An Italian concept in NoDa with a notable beverage program
February 22, 2023
The craft cocktail bar will open this spring on The Plaza
by Kristen Wile
Humbug, the craft cocktail bar by bartenders Andy Schools and Larry Suggs, has secured permits and is set to begin construction on March 1 in its new location near where Parkwood Avenue meets The Plaza. The new space, above Summit Coffee at 2501 The Plaza, is a corner space with exposed brick that can hold a significant amount of outdoor seating. The craft cocktail bar got its start as a pop-up in the lobby of Refuge, a microhotel on Central Avenue in Plaza Midwood. After launching the concept as a pilot late last summer, they paused service last month in preparation for the new location’s buildout.
Schools returned to Charlotte from Greensboro, where he worked as beverage director at highly respected, James Beard-recognized restaurant Machete. Suggs has worked at a number of Charlotte cocktail bars and restaurants during his tenure here, most recently The Royal Tot. Humbug is meant to be a combination of two sides of the bar scene: the quality cocktails you’d find at a craft bar, with the feel and relationships you’d expect at your local dive — including close relationships with the folks behind the bar.
“Our whole business model is owner-operated,” Schools says, “so Larry and I will usually be behind the bar on every shift, or one of us will definitely be here. You’ll always run into me and Larry in the bar, and we want people to know when they come in, it’s going to be me or Larry that they’re going to see, or both of us.”
The new location of Humbug will have two bar areas, a front space with a 14-seat bar and high-top tables, as well as an area with a pool table in the back thanks to Schools’ and Suggs’ love of billiards. That space will also include tables but will have more of a lounge feel, and can be rented out for private parties. In total, the cocktail bar can serve about 70 guests inside. There are two roll-up garage doors, which on nice days will be opened onto one of the restaurant’s two patios. The patio spaces will open later in the season, however, likely in the fall. Outdoor space was one of the things the duo sought while seeking a permanent location for Humbug in the Plaza Midwood area. Suggs says he and Schools also liked the fact that the space was an adaptive re-use project, instead of a new build.
“We’re moving into a space with already some character and some grit, just like us,” he says.
The cocktail menu will feature both classic cocktails as well more creative options, and a list of classic bar shots that take on a craft bent, too. An in-house ice program will provide both cocktail ice and nugget ice, and there will be a small prep kitchen from which the bar will be able to serve a small number of dishes — most prepared off-site. Suggs says to expect a few options of “frenchies,” baguettes with butter and varied toppings.
If construction stays on schedule for the six-week buildout, the bar will open in May. In an attempt to be more inclusive to more schedules, including hospitality industry professionals, the bar will be open 6 days a week, closed only on Tuesdays, with hours beginning at 4 p.m. and a 2 a.m. close.