From giant subs to tiny pieces of raw fish, students at Winthrop University soon will have some new dining options close to campus.
A Charlotte restaurateur has finalized plans for a sushi restaurant in the old Time Out bar on Cherry Road, hoping to bring new life to a building vacant for about five years. The news comes shortly after Groucho's Deli announced it would open next door in the former Cupps coffee shop.
The deals mark two steps forward in the long-running effort to revitalize Cherry Road and, at least on this stretch, create more college-type hangouts around campus.
"People still see the opportunity associated with Winthrop, and Cherry Road carries a lot of traffic," said broker Randy Graham, who handled the sushi deal on behalf of Sperry Van Ness/Southern Commercial Realty. "There's a captive audience there. And really, if you want to serve the Winthrop population, that's where you have to be."
A similar sentiment came from the people at Groucho's, set to open next month in the former Cupps building. The Columbia-based sandwich maker boasts 18 franchises in the Carolinas, but this is the first in Rock Hill.
"The more activity there is, the better it is for all of us," store owner Meg Jenkins Locke said. "You can eat sushi one day, Groucho's the next day, White Horse the next day. If we can just get the old Taco Bueno set up, we'll be in good shape."
The sushi restaurant will be owned by Raymond Lam, who is involved with a Fuji Japanese steakhouse near the Super Target off N.C. 49 and a Chinese buffet off Arrowood Road in Charlotte. Lam could not be reached for comment Monday.
Renovation work should start sometime this fall, Graham said.
Coupled with the recent opening of an Earth Fare grocery store, the restaurant plans have delivered positive news to a street with its share of troubles.
For years, the block has been a mishmash of student rental houses, empty buildings and restaurants that come and go. Developers have tried to buy up properties in hopes of assembling enough land for a strip shopping center or multilevel retail project, but nothing has worked out.
Winthrop's stake in the revitalization effort is clear: Cherry Road represents the one side of campus that lacks a defined future. School boosters long have said a snazzy new project on Cherry Road could have kick-started redevelopment progress in the city's "Textile Corridor" -- a large swath of former mills near downtown -- by serving as a model of the possibilities.
Instead, the two recent deals show that the block appears more likely to be redeveloped one property at a time.