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News, notes, and gossip about the restaurant scene


Chances are by now you’ve heard about the dramatic changes taking place at the city’s favorite dive dining establishment, The Penguin Diner (1921 Commonwealth Ave., 704-375-6959). On October 24, the restaurant will shift management to franchisor Martin Sprock with the intention of eventually creating a chain of Penguins. Meanwhile, Greg Auten, a former operator at the Penguin who left to open Pinky’s Westside Grill on Morehead, was set to return to work with Sprock. However, he has now said he will not participate and will focus solely on Pinky’s, which is scheduled to open in October. The restaurant’s most recent operators, Jimmy King and Brian Rowe, are now partners in The Diamond restaurant, just around the corner from the Penguin, which is also supposed to open before the end of October.

On the Move

Chic SouthPark restaurant M5 Modern Mediterranean has closed, and Harper’s Restaurant Group has reopened Zink American Kitchen (704-909-5500, 4310 Sharon Rd.) in its place. (Zink, which was originally located uptown, closed in July.) The new Zink offers the top-selling dishes from M5 and Zink, as well as a few from other Harper’s Group restaurants. And speaking of uptown moves, Nick LaVecchia’s seafood restaurant, LaVecchia’s Seafood Grill, is moving in October from its Seventh Street Station location to a new spot in the bottom of the Hearst Tower.

Trendy Tacos

Charlotte must be in the mood for margaritas, because the Mexican restaurants just keep coming. Frank Scibelli’s newest venture, Paco’s Tacos & Tequila (704-716-8226, 6401 Morrison Blvd.), has opened in SouthPark and Vida Kitchen y Cantina (704-971-8432, 210 E. Trade St.) is serving crowds at the EpiCenter. In October, Matthews residents can look forward to the opening of Pure Taqueria (110 Matthews Station St.), an Atlanta-based chain known for its prickly pear margaritas and fish tacos.

Categories: Food + Drink, Local Flavor, Restaurants