Since mid-2008, it’s been common knowledge in Charlotte that the owners of the Old Brick Store were trying to sell. As months wore on and no buyer emerged, they shut down the Manhattan Pizza operation in favor of simple sandwiches, and the shelves grew more and more bare.
But last Thursday, the OBS got a new lease on life when it was purchased by Carrie MacKillop, also co-owner of Burlington’s Muddy Waters. She’s seeking to raise additional funds by adopting the “community-supported” business model, recently used by Claire’s Restaurant & Bar in Hardwick, The Bee’s Knees in Morrisville (see below) and Nunyuns in Burlington’s Old North End.
MacKillop, who lives in the area, plans to keep many aspects of the store the same — it will continue to serve the dual roles of grocery and casual eatery. But she’ll tweak some details. “We’ll really focus on natural, local and organic [items] while providing conventional options as well,” MacKillop explains. An espresso machine, hot chocolate and chai will warm up customers, and “the deli will have more prepared foods, really good products.”
The store’s mission, says MacKillop, is “convenience with a conscience.” To that end, she’s also adding new, energy-efficient refrigeration units and plans future “green” updates.
The goal is to complete renovations and reopen the store by Valentine’s Day. In the spring, MacKillop will reboot the pizza operation: “It will be the same products that my husband and I had when we owned Fibonacci’s,” she says, referring to the now-defunct Shelburne pizzeria.
Is she worried about starting a small community business in a bad economy? MacKillop sounds upbeat: “My intuition is that people will stay closer to home, they’ll cook more; they won’t be going out to restaurants as much,” she says. “The trend is going to smaller stores and local products as people become more in tune with their food, [and this is] pushing grocery stores in a much more intimate direction.”