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Second Comings 

Several restaurants branch out

* Brothers and Sicilian natives Giacoma (Jack), Joe, and Frank Brucia have opened the 156-seat Carlo's Italian Grill at 322 South Church Street (formerly Crawford's). An upstairs lunch buffet is featured for $6.95. There used to be six Carlo's Charlotte locations, but the only Carlo's Restaurant & Pizza now is at the University. Hours downtown are Monday through Friday 11am until 4pm, buffet closes at 2pm Sunday when there is a home Panther game. Dinner will begin the first of the year. 704-373-1451.

* Owner Tre Luong has opened a second Miro's Spanish Grill in Quail Corners, 8418 Park Road, (the space occupied by Foda, Mama Ricotta, and Si). The menu is identical to the one in Stonecrest, but the hours are different: Sunday through Thursday 5pm until 10pm, and Friday and Saturday 5pm until 11pm. Closed for lunch. 704-553-8588.

* Will King is the new General Manager and Fred Baker is the Assistant Manager of BD Mongolian Barbecue at 9609 N. Tryon Street in the Terraces at University Place. Also new is their store in Sycamore Commons Plaza, in Matthews (at the intersection of Independence Boulevard and Matthews Township Parkway). 704-944-5000.

* Also opened in Sycamore Commons Plaza is another Qdoba Mexican Grill. In 2001 Qdoba Restaurant Corporation of Denver, CO had $50 million in system-wide sales.

* Upstream, part of Charlotte-based Harper's, has opened its second location. This one is in Charleston, SC, at 200 Meeting Place, the site formerly Louis's Restaurant and Bar.

Holiday Notes

* Sante, 165 North Trade Street, Matthews, will host their annual Christmas Dinner Show on Thursday, December 13. The Charlotte Chorale Society will perform traditional Christmas carols. Two seatings are available at 6pm and 8:30pm. The three-course dinner features prime rib, stuffed flounder, and holiday pies. Cost is $39 per person. On New Year's Eve they will have a four-course dinner with three seatings 5pm, 7pm, and 9:30pm. That menu will feature filet mignon and grilled lamb loin au jus and is $75 per couple. 704-845-1899.

* Morton's of Chicago, 227 West Trade Street (in the Carillon building) is offering a Festive Luncheon Package to groups of 10 or more, starting at $35 per person. The price includes choice of soup, salad, entree and dessert as well as a special gift from Morton of Chicago. Upgraded packages feature limousine service. Also Morton's is selling their six-inch tall pewter pig lamps, depicting a contented pig happily resting after savoring a meal. The lamp sells for $75. In the Washington, DC, Morton's, donkey and elephant lamps are used instead of the pigs. These are also available for $75. 704-333-2602.

* Ferrucci's Old Tyme Market at Shops on the Green in Cornelius, will have the following holiday specialties; pignoli cookies, torrone, perugina, panettone, struffoli, cannoli, tiramisu, torta di ricotta (Italian cheesecake), baba rhum, and mascarpone cheese tortas. For more information: 704-896-3190.

* And after you visit Ferrucci's, here's a tip: Weight Watchers is offering their booklet: Savor the Season -- A Guilt-Free Guide to the Holidays, which contains low-calories holiday recipes and a list of healthy alternatives to traditional holiday dishes. I'm figuring the torta di ricotta will not be in this booklet. Call 800-651-6000 (business hours CST).

* Since 1996 Janet and Andy Goldstein, owners of Good Ol' Days, 3351 Pineville Matthews Road in the Arboretum Shopping Center, have opened their doors on Christmas Day to celebrate Christmas with the less fortunate children in our community. The first year 23 children attended. The next year 200 were expected, but 3000 showed up. Now volunteers take gifts to CMC, Presbyterian, and Mercy hospitals as well as charitable organizations. Last year Andy Goldstein estimated 10,000 children benefited. At the restaurant, Christmas dinner is served, and children are given presents by Santa, Mrs. Claus, and a few elves. The restaurant staff gives their time and community volunteers help inside the restaurant and by bringing the children to the restaurant and with delivering the gifts to hospitals and other organizations. Gifts are donated by the public. This year, however, there is serious shortage of toys and clothing to give to the children. If you are interested in helping, the Goldsteins are requesting new toys for ages infant to 18 years and new clothes, wrapped or unwrapped. Any donations may be dropped off at the restaurant. For more information call: 704-517-9911.

* The winner of Grove Park Inn's annual Gingerbread House Competition held November 12, was Elizabeth Prioli of Chapel Hill. Prioli created "Harry Potter at Hogwarts School," an entirely edible two-foot by two-foot 360-degree, four scene depiction from Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone. Scenes include Harry riding his Nimbus 2000 and carrying the golden snitch, Harry and the sorting hat, Hagrid and the Hatching of Norbert, and Gryffindor versus Slytherin. Prioli's creation won this competition before the release of the movie. The Gingerbread House Competition attracted 166 entries, a 56 percent increase from the 2000 event. Participants came from nine states. Entries will be on display in the hotel's Vanderbilt Wing through New Year's. The 2002 competition will be held Monday, November 11.

Law Change
* Mecklenburg County Health Department has announced a new law which went into effect on October 15, 2001, limiting the food service exemption. Before the new law took effect, individual food vendors were granted a two-day exemption before being required to obtain a permit. Now non-profit organizations and political fund-raisers are the only two exceptions to a new state law limiting who can prepare or serve food to the public without a permit. While news of this law is being publicized, food vendors violating this law will be allowed to complete food service at the event at which they are found if there is not imminent danger to public health. However, second offenders will face civil penalties for serving food without a permit.

Also from Mecklenburg County, restaurants which participated in the November 15 "Great American Smoke-Out, Go for the ATMOSPHERE" by going smoke-free and those restaurants which are smoke-free year round will be posted on the Mecklenburg County Health Department's website, www.meckhealth.org, and the county's web site, www.4citizenhelp.com. The Mecklenburg County site also posts the results of recent restaurant inspections they perform. Said Bill Hardister, Program Chief for Mecklenburg County Food and Facilities Sanitation, "Having this information on our web site allows people to see more than just a number. It allows them to see the nuts and bolts of what is really going on inside the restaurant." For more information, call 704-336-7600.

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