Rhubarb on the rise: Chef John Fleer hopes his restaurant will open early this fall with food that’s evocative, but not necessarily regional. Max Cooper

John Fleer’s restaurant gets a name

It’s not often that chefs market their restaurants as vegetal and ambiguous, but that’s John Fleer’s tack.

His Pack Square restaurant, which will open this fall in the former Bistro 1896 space, goes by the name Rhubarb.

Fleer thinks the name sounds evocative, but not in any particular way. “Ultimately, I don’t think you should have to explain the name of your restaurant,” he says. “It should conjure things, and it might conjure different things for different people.”

Rhubarb is a rather indeterminate plant, he explains. “It’s thought to be a fruit, but it grows like asparagus,” he says. “That’s one of the things I love about it: It’s ambiguous in how it’s defined.” Although it is technically a vegetable, he adds.

So what does the name have to do with the food Fleer will serve? Well, in some ways, nothing. Rhubarb is a Chinese plant, and he’s not necessarily planning to do stir-fry.

In the United States, it grows in most regions. “More than anything, it’s breaking some sort of barrier to give myself more freedom,” Fleer says. “I’m trying to break out of that Southern stereotype.”

Of course, the menu will feature rhubarb, particularly roasted and in sauces, Fleer says.

For more information about Fleer’s plans, check out

Food trucks take South Slope

Hungry at The Prospect or Dirty Jack’s? The city recently OK’d a food truck location behind the Green Man Brewing. Melt Your Heart’s Steven Paulson has been pushing to use that site since last fall.

Melt Your Heart, El Kimchi and Smash Box will serve food in the space (one at a time), and other trucks could set up there eventually. For each truck’s particular location, search for it on Facebook.

Barbecue lunch at Blackbird

Starting this week, Blackbird becomes a barbecue restaurant at lunchtime, a slight departure from its more upscale Southern dinner offerings. The restaurant is marketing the new menu as “very affordable” and “down home.”

Smoked pork, chicken, brisket and ribs come with one of four sauces — peach bourbon, apple cider vinegar, sweet and spicy, and Troy and Son’s Moonshine. Sandwiches start at $5, and platters run from $6 to $19.50 (for a 12-rack of ribs).

For more information, visit

Tupelo Honey expands to Charlotte (officially)

Back in May, The Charlotte Observer broke the news that Tupelo Honey would open a location there. Still, the restaurant hasn’t been ready to make the news official until last week.

Elizabeth Sims, director of marketing, confirmed the location, which will open in Charlotte’s South End neighborhood in the former Pewter Rose restaurant location. She called it the “worst kept secret ever” and hopes it will be up and running by December.

The Tupelo Honey brand now encompasses seven restaurants. In addition to the two Asheville locations, the restaurant serves three squares, Southern-style, in Greenville and Knoxville. Chattanooga and Johnson City Tupelos will open within a year.


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