The DolsonTom and Sherie Hewitt could sense it was time for a change. Their restaurant — The Gavel — had been a Charlotte destination for 32 years, but they knew community members have been yearning for something fresh and new. Reinventing their downtown Charlotte establishment, however, would require a little more youth and enthusiasm.
Enter in Jason and Darryl Vanderstelt, Charlotte natives and owners of Dutch Brothers Development. The two learned of Tom’s desire to retire from the restaurant business and had long since been intrigued by the potential of his building. Knowing many people in the restaurant industry through their work in the development group, they approached Potent Potables — the restaurant group that owns popular Lansing eateries, The Cosmos, The Creole, and Zoobie’s Old Town Tavern — and discussed the possibility of opening a new restaurant in Charlotte.
All parties immediately recognized the great potential for a new restaurant to capitalize on the growing momentum currently being created in Charlotte.
“There is real community here,” said Sam Short of the potential he and his Potent Potables partners saw in Charlotte. “There is a knowledge here of who owns the businesses, how it can be better, and a real feeling that it is becoming a more vibrant downtown for the community that surrounds it.”
Over the course of the last 10 months, Dutch Brothers Development, Potent Potables and the Hewitts have been working on a transition that would allow for new ownership and a redesigned restaurant concept. It’s a concept that is ready to come to life as The Gavel will officially close its doors Saturday, Dec. 31.
“I have to thank my wife and partner, who for 32 years was a huge part of the success of our business,” Hewitt said. “It’s been a great run for us. We’ve always been big supporters of Charlotte, it’s a great community. We’ve raised our family here and have always been very much Charlotte oriented, but it’s time for us to move on and see someone bring in some new concepts.”
Hewitt said the Charlotte community should really be excited about what’s to come.
“With Sam coming in, we’re bringing new life into this community, and I believe that is what people are asking for,” Hewitt said. “That is not a slam on what is here, but we are all very similar. In order to attract young people, or keep some of the young professional people here, you need to have something a little more trendy. I think that’s what Sam brings to this organization and to Charlotte.”
The Dolson, as it will be named, is tentatively planned to open some time around March. Jason Vanderstelt said the name was inspired by Charlotte’s manufacturing roots, which include the Dolson automotive manufacturer that called Charlotte home in the early 1900s. Renovations on the current building will begin immediately. He said the new restaurant will have a completely new, more open feel.
“This is a quality of life play for the City of Charlotte,” Jason said. “Darrell and I want to see Charlotte grow and prosper. We are willing to take risks here because the payoff is bigger for us, because this is our community.”
The restaurant will be considered a gastropub, Short said, where everything is made from scratch in the restaurant’s kitchen.
“It’ll be a true scratch kitchen, with a real focus on quality of craftsmanship, not just ingredients, but the cocktails we have, the beer we have, the wine we have,” Short said. “What Charlotte has had for 32 years is an old stalwart, someone who is going to be there no matter what to serve good food at good prices and be a good community gathering spot. It’s not just a place for food and booze, it’s a place where your community goes. If we can continue those things, that is what we want. That feel is all together important. If we can do it and breathe a little bit of life into some of those trends, that’s where we want to be.
More information on the menu will be revealed as the restaurant nears its open date.
Hewitt said he plans to remain active in Charlotte and continue to work with Weichert Realtors. He said the new restaurant will honor all Gavel gift certificates when it opens in the spring.