Bradshaw Social House Is Ready To Rock on Rea Road
Bradshaw Social House slipped onto the South Charlotte scene this week with a hushed opening on Wednesday for friends and family. They opened their doors to the public this Thursday and I took advantage of an invitation from Justin Sprowles to check out what I hoped would be a welcome addition to the limited bar scene outside the 485 perimeter around Rea and Providence Roads. There are plenty of great places to eat around that area but really few options for going and catching a game on decent TVs in a laid back setting with solid food. That part of Charlotte needed a place like Mac’s or the Lodge or The Diamond or Pinky’s.
When I arrived with the twilight on Thursday evening, the dining room floor and bar was filled without being on a wait for the tables and booths. Word had yet to get out on the Queen City blogosphere that BSH was open for business. People, mostly 20 to 40 somethings, were laughing and smiling as they watched baseball or waited for the NBA playoffs to start. The music was a nice mix that drifted from a Bob Marley redux to Jason Aldean into the Offspring and then Lauryn Hill. This is in no way a grimy little sports bar or dank pub. It is a well-assembled operation that manages an upscale vibe while remaining casual.
The space is big and open. Retractable garage-style doors exposed the entire restaurant to the welcome breezes of this cool summer. A huge L-shaped bar runs close to a third of the space along the outside walls. DIY metro shelving flashing the goods- barware, top shelf liquors, a respectable inventory of craft beers, a massive bottle of Knob Creek I coveted like the sinner I am, and a half a menu page worth of red and white wines. There are 17 taps with all the local breweries on draft along with bell weathers like Guinness and the usually-suspect domestics. I believe Justin told me they could accommodate nearly 160 people- with a good amount of seating for 30-40 people on the patio. The layout looked prime for serving crowds and turning tables without dumping the folks eating on top of the crowd bellied up to the bar. I’ll be eager to see where the bands set-up for live music on Wednesdays, Fridays, and Saturdays.
Twenty sparkling TVs, including one massive interconnected display of eight flat panels arranged in a rectangle for the marque events, offered everyone in house and on the patio a view of the event they wanted to watch. The wide open galley style of the bar is filled with a shitload of custom bistro tables made of slick, stamped concrete and anchored by steel welded into hubcaps. The decor suggests a polished, rustic vibe that comes across in the exposed blue-grey trusses, incandescent lights with orange, squiggly filaments dangled in wire baskets over the handful of booths and dining tables, and shiny duct work. BSH was able to build out the restaurant from the dirt floor and the custom touches show in the signage, decor, and branding.
I got to talking with Justin Sprowles about the background of the Bradshaw Social House. He said he grew up in Charlotte, went onto college at Kentucky to grind it out as a redshirt for football and get a degree in business, then made his way back home. He knew he wanted to be an entrepreneur but wasn’t sure into which direction he wanted to leap after graduation. Now I’ve got to say I’m a sucker for stories like these because I believe immigrants, rebels, and hard-nosed upstarts in the restaurant business are great examples of the American spirit. Empires may crumble and governments may be overthrown but it is a constant that people always need to eat. And all around the world, enterprising individuals make a decent living selling the rest of us tasty eats, served with a smile, in a place where we can enjoy ourselves.
BSH is a family affair with Justin managing the front of the house, his brother Jaime commanding the kitchen, and their father Spanky keeping everything smooth out on the floor. Anyone familiar with the stealthily-located Yellow Rose pool hall will know Spanky- for nearly two decades he put his skin in the game at that under-the-radar, much beloved Charlotte stalwart. I couldn’t think of a better way to learn the fundamentals and demands of the restaurant business than watching your father do the job. And I tell you what, Spanky was straight hustling- touching tables, busting my chops for taking pictures (“Who are you with?”), clearing dishes, and running orders. The waitstaff was attractive, engaging, and seemed to be hitting their marks on Thursday.
When it came to the menu, I was atypically indecisive because Lil’ Mama made me a heaping portion of spaghetti and meatballs before I hit up the BSH. I took Justin’s advice and went with the Industry Standard. It was their signature bison burger and highlighted on a menu of comfort foods like shrimp and grits, fried chicken, homemade chips, jerk chicken wings, ribs, steak tips, and much more. And after all, he recommended it and offered to buy my meal (a Lannister takes what is given) but I bought my own drinks. I might be prone to temptation and influence by food from time-to-time but nothing I’ve discovered quite compromises a man’s integrity like free booze.
Sweet, airy challah bread covers the half pound of lean bison meat. Threads of red onion sank into the melted cheese slices. Tender and savory and spicy with a bun durable enough to absorb the flood of drippings from the bison patty.It was a hot chipotle pepper white cheddar meat and gluten mouth love orgy. The Industry Standard is not for a sissy. It is a heavy hitter and requires an appetite but you won’t disappointed in the portion size or quality of ingredients.
For a side I went with the sweet potato fries. I like how thin my sweet potato fries were cut- it helps keep them crispy. And I enjoyed the spicy, subtle chipotle kick tempered with a dusting of cinnamon. My particular batch had somebody get a little too friendly with the salt shaker but that happens from time to time. You could also pick from a couple types of fries, tater tots, grilled zucchini and onions, herbed jasmine rice, and a few other side options.
On the first go round, Bradshaw Social House certainly met my expectations. Given how busy places like Brixx or Cosmos or Buffalo Wings & Rings are during the week and weekends, BSH looks primed to capitalize on the South Charlotte demographic as they continue to dial in their execution and maintain their commitment to deliver fresh ingredients, attentive service, and good times.
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