What is the Restaurateur of the Year?
Each year since 1999, Charlotte magazine has recognized an individual whose work has raised the bar for the local dining scene with the Restaurateur of the Year. John "J.D." Duncan, owner of Bonterra, Las Ramblas, and Mac’s, is the eighth winner. Here are the past seven, and what they’re up to now:
Then: Founder of LaVecchia’s Seafood Grille, which brought flashy, upscale, urban dining to Charlotte.
Now: Still owns LaVecchia’s, as well as Old Stone Steakhouse in Belmont.
Then: Owner of French fine-dining restaurant Marais, laid-back Cajun joint Zydeco, and upscale French brasserie Bijoux.
Now: All three restaurants are closed, and Steedman lives at Lake Norman, where he works as a consultant.
Then: Partner and front man for Harper’s Restaurant Group, which included Harper’s, Mimosa Grill, and Upstream.
Now: He’s got the same gig, and the portfolio now includes Arpa, Harper’s ToGoGo, Harper’s Blue Ribbon Grill, M5, and Zink.
Jim Alexander and Pete Pappas
Then: Cofounders of Zebra, which was—and is—Charlotte’s most ambitious restaurant, food-wise.
Now: Pappas is no longer part of the business, but Alexander is still doing his thing.
Then: Head corporate chef for Bank of America (through Compass Group) and a key force behind Charlotte Shout
Now: He still works for Compass Group, but no longer at Bank of America. Still involved with Shout.
Then: Owner of Sonoma and Town restaurants, each of which charted their own course and set new standards for quality of food.
Now: Still has Sonoma (which has moved) and Town, and has opened Taverna 100. He’s also planning to open a wine bar with developer David Furman.
Then: Owner of Coco Osteria, Il Posto, Toscana, and Luce restaurants, four of the top Italian restaurants in town
Now: Still has those four, and will soon open two more, Il Positano and Mezzanote
Then: Owner of Blue, then Uptown’s hottest restaurant, and Table, which brought upscale, almost glam dining to Ballantyne
Now: Still has Blue and Table, and each are still smokin’.