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June 25, 2024

At upcoming bar Chief’s, Bob Peters gets personal

As a consultant, Peters has helped create drink menus for bars across Charlotte. This time, he’s creating an entire experience as part of Built On Hospitality

by Kristen Wile

Bob Peters will be behind the bar at Chief’s in NoDa when it opens later this summer. Photo courtesy

Bob Peters has been a fixture in the Charlotte restaurant scene since 1996. He first gained the city’s notice as the longtime bartender at Midtown sushi spot Pisces, but became one of Charlotte’s most-recognizable hospitality talents as the opening mixologist at The Punch Room, now led by Kel Minton

When he shifted to start his own bar consulting business, he stepped behind the bars of a long list of recognizable restaurants, either helping them launch their cocktail program or revamp it, including The Grinning Mule, Queen & Glass, and Aria. Each concept had a different bar focus, but the menus indicated Peters’ signature ability to create a cocktail for a wide range of palates — all equally complex and creative. 

After lending his talents to restaurants and bars across the city, he joined the team at Built On Hospitality as beverage director just over a year ago. His role includes overseeing the bar programs and The Goodyear House, Haymaker, and Rock Hill restaurant Old Town Kitchen & Cocktails. And with the upcoming opening of NoDa cocktail bar Chief’s, Peters will finally be behind the bar of a concept of his own making. 

Like sister concept The Goodyear House, Chief’s is in an old mill house in NoDa. Photo courtesy.

Chief’s, housed in an old mill next door to The Goodyear House on North Davidson Street, will feature the high-end cocktails Peters is known for in a casual, intimate setting. The bar is named in honor of Peters’ father, who passed away a decade ago. Chief was the name Peters’ father decided his grandchildren would call him when he became a grandfather. 

“I was thinking about a concept to put in that space, and I kind of had this epiphany that if it was going to be something great, then it needed to be something personal,” Peters says. 

The cocktail bar will seat about 45 guests, likely with both reservations and walk-in seating available. The cocktail list will feature what Peters calls “technique-driven” drinks, with fresh juices, homemade syrups, and high-end glassware. There will be a few familiar classics for those unfamiliar with Peters’ style of cocktails to ease into, though the majority of the menu will feature Peters’ own unique, balanced creations with an addition of low ABV and nonalcoholic options. The mixologist’s love of drink technology and methods will show up in touches like sous vide syrups, fat-infused spirits, and foams, as will the thoughtfulness of his cocktails. 

“If you do a cocktail really right — the garnish is perfect and the balance of the cocktail is perfect — it’s beautiful and it’s delicious,” Peters says. “When you can strike those two chords at the same time, and also add an element of something that’s mindful — and I’m not saying I always do — but if you do get there, then you get really close to art.”

There will be snacks available to enjoy with your drinks, such as homemade Chex mix and nuts  — the kinds of things his parents would serve at a happy hour in their home. In fact, much of the concept — from snacks to decor — borrows from cocktail hour with Peters’ parents.  

“My parents really embody Southern hospitality, and obviously that translates very directly and very easily to restaurant hospitality,” he says. “If you came over to my parents’ house, then my dad would meet you at the front door, and couldn’t get a drink in your hand fast enough, and my mom would already be cooking something magical in the kitchen and would come out and give you a big hug. You just felt at ease and at home almost immediately after you crossed the threshold.”

Like The Goodyear House, Chief’s is in an old mill house — this one more than 120 years old. Renovations began last fall and remain underway, adding modern touches to the space while still maintaining its historic nature. Peters’ father was an architect, inspiring several architectural touches to the interior as well. 

Chief’s is currently targeting a late summer opening. Peters will be behind the bar at Chief’s when it opens, and remain there most often until shifting his focus to upcoming South End spot Folia. With Chief’s, however, opening such a personal concept adds a new level to a process he’s become quite familiar with after decades helping open bars in Charlotte.

“I want to make [chef] Chris Coleman and the rest of the Built On Hospitality people proud,” he says. “I want to make my family proud. I want to honor my parents in the most humble yet elegant way. I’m definitely feeling pressure.”

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