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REGIONALREPORT Charlotte

Beyond meals on wheels

https://asoft10294.accrisoft.com/businessnc/clientuploads/Archive_Images/2013/05/CharlotteTinKitchen.jpgIt’s a Thursday afternoon in a Charlotte craft brewer’s taproom. David Stuck drinks a beer while chatting about his business, which happens to be parked outside serving tacos. Not ordinary tacos, these are made with brisket, chipotle coleslaw and duck confit. “I love a good taco,” he says between sips. “What can I say?” It’s his day off, but he’s here anyway with The TIN Truck (formerly The TIN Kitchen), the bread van he converted into a food truck. But Stuck and his partners — Nick Lischerong and Charlie Reid, his primary chef — are driving it in an unusual direction.

In April, they opened TK Café, a 1,200- square-foot takeout place in a 19-story office tower in downtown Charlotte. It serves breakfast and lunch, including hot sandwiches, salads, juices and smoothies. One of the building’s owners, in search of a novel food tenant, offered to rent it at a substantial discount. “Not saying it’s going to work,” Stuck says, “but we figured, ‘What the heck?’” Lischerong, a developer and investment manager, is bankrolling most of the café’s cost.

Their food truck, which debuted in January 2012, will keep rolling. But it’ll be just a wing of the business, which is changing its name from The Artisan Gourmet Group LLC to The TIN Partners. They also will add to their staff of four full-time and seven part-time employees. “I got into this with the ambition to grow, and I can do only so much out of the truck,” Stuck, 30, says. He plans to open a second TK Café downtown before the end of the year and, eventually, a full-service restaurant.

Stuck, who is from Columbia, S.C., owned a furniture store there before it went under in the recession. Looking for a new career, he drove cross-country and settled in Portland, Ore., where he enrolled in cooking school — it was the only other job skill he had, having worked in restaurants during high school and college. He moved to Charlotte after graduating, planning to convert an Airstream trailer into a mobile restaurant (thus the name) but settled for a cheaper option. Largely a West Coast trend until recently, food trucks have multiplied like minnows in Charlotte the last year or so.

Brian Seeley, who owns The Herban Legend food truck, says The TIN Partners are the only local food-truck operators he is aware of with plans for sit-down restaurants. “With the economy the way it is right now, it’s just better to be able to go after the customer rather than wait for them to come to you.” Stuck is willing to take the chance. More than 1,000 people work in the building, and there’s little competition nearby. He won’t disclose 2012 revenue but says, “We had a healthy enough profit to move on to the next thing.”

Briefs

CHARLOTTEXPO Logistics will expand its operations center here, adding 287 to its local workforce of 245 and investing $688,000 by the end of 2014. The Greenwich, Conn.-based company, which provides third-party transportation logistics, opened the center last year.

GASTONIA Alliance Bank & Trust named Don Harrison CEO. He has more than 30 years’ experience with financial institutions and was executive vice president of commercial banking at Asheboro-based CommunityOne Bank.

CHARLOTTE SCHLEICH North America, which makes figurines and collectibles, will move its North American headquarters here from Canada. The German company is expected to hire 60 and move into a 125,000-square-foot space that will house offices and a distribution center.

ALBEMARLE Uwharrie Capital repaid about $7.7 million of the bailout money it received through the federal Troubled Asset Relief Program. That’s about 75% of what it owed. The bank plans to repay the rest within 18 months.

SPINDALE Isothermal Community College named former Lt. Gov. Walter Dalton president. He replaces Myra Johnson, who retired after leading the school for six years. Dalton, the unsuccessful Democratic nominee for governor last year, is a former chairman of the school’s board of trustees.