NYC wine bar prepares to pop the cork in Charlotte

| Jennifer Thomas | Charlotte Business Journal | Full Article

Corkbuzz Wine Studio has set its sights on a spring opening in Charlotte’s SouthPark.

The 3,000-square-foot wine bar and restaurant is now targeting a May 15 launch, says Laura Maniec, who co-founded Corkbuzz and is a master sommelier

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“It took longer than we wanted but we know we will be tenants for 20-plus years so we wanted to get the design correct,” Maniec says.

CorkBuzz will be located in the Sharon Square mixed-use development at Sharon and Fairview roads.

The project is being designed by Kelly Cook and Steve Meyer of K2M Design in Charlotte. Metrolina Builders is the contractor.

“We are very excited as we think Charlotte is the perfect location for our first out-of-state venture,” Maniec says.

Continued progress updates and invitations to friends-and-family test dinners and lunches are available by joining CorkBuzz’s mailing list.

Corkbuzz has a wine and dining concept that caters to both expert and novice wine enthusiasts, with wine education and menus that complement available vintages.

The wine list will have about 250 selections, with about 40 wines available by the glass. That global wine list will cover all price points, providing options for customers whether they want to try a $30 wine or splurge for a $100 bottle.

Classes will be offered on topics such as Wine 101 or food and wine pairings.

The restaurant will offer wine-inspired cuisine for lunch and dinner. That means fare such as fresh salads and house-made pastas with seasonal ingredients.

The Charlotte location will be the wine bar’s third site. Its first opened in New York City’s Union Square in 2011, and a second was added in Chelsea Market last year.

As Maniec considered expansion, she targeted other markets, including Charlotte.

A key reason Charlotte is a good fit for Corkbuzz is because of Maniec’s family ties to the area, including her uncle and co-founder Frank Vafier, who has a home here.

Sharon Square is being co-developed by Pappas Properties and Allen Tate Co.

Bryan Wyker of The Providence Group represented Corkbuzz. Brian Roth of Pappas Properties represented the developer.

The Sharon Square development incorporates apartment homes, restaurants, shops and offices. It includes Charlotte’s first Whole Foods Market, which opened in 2012.

CEO: SunTrust plans to continue growth in Charlotte

| Rick Rothacker | Charlotte Observer | Full Article

Fresh off the opening of a new regional headquarters building in SouthPark, Atlanta-based SunTrust Banks plans to continue its growth in Charlotte, CEO Bill Rogers said in an interview Tuesday.

“We want to continue to invest in this market,” Rogers said during a Charlotte visit that included meetings with employees, customers and community leaders.

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The bank now has about 500 employees in the Charlotte area, and Rogers expects that number to increase over time. About 200 of those employees, in businesses ranging from wealth management to bond trading, work in the new five-story headquarters building off Sharon Road.

“It’s a great symbol,” said Rogers, 57, who joined a SunTrust predecessor in 1980 and became CEO in 2011. “It’s the first post-crisis, large investment made in SouthPark, and we really love being part of that.”

SunTrust first entered North Carolina in 2004 when it acquired Memphis, Tenn.-based National Commerce Financial, parent of Central Carolina Bank. That deal came after the bank was unsuccessful in breaking up Charlotte-based First Union’s 2001 bid to buy Winston-Salem-based Wachovia.

“I don’t spend a lot of time looking in the rear-view mirror,” Rogers said of the thwarted Wachovia deal. “I want to keep my eyes focused on the windshield and the opportunities that sit in front of us.”

Later, the combined Wachovia nearly failed during the financial crisis before being bought in 2008 by San Francisco-based Wells Fargo.

“Wachovia was a great competitor,” said Rogers, who grew up in Durham and earned a bachelor’s degree in business administration from UNC-Chapel Hill. “And Wells Fargo is a great competitor. And SunTrust is an incredibly good competitor.”

SunTrust, the 13th-biggest U.S. bank by assets, has long been considered a possible acquisition target for a rival interested in entering the Southeast, but Rogers said the bank is focused on building its client base and improving shareholder value.

“Our goal is to control our destiny and make our company great,” he said.

As far as making acquisitions of its own, Rogers said the best investments the company can make are in SunTrust. For example, it’s adding premier bankers for select clients and expanding its corporate banking service nationally.

“Those are the equivalent of small acquisitions,” he said.

SunTrust remains a relatively small player in the Charlotte area, especially compared to Charlotte-based Bank of America and Wells Fargo. As of June 30, the Atlanta-based bank was the sixth-biggest by deposits, with 0.69 percent market share and 38 branches, according to Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. data.

“What we want to do is grow,” Rogers said. “We don’t sit back and say, ‘Gosh, we want to have this amount of deposit share or loan share.’ We say, ‘Here’s the opportunity for the things we do, and how do we make sure we’re growing those businesses?”

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