A meal that makes you feel like a real MVP

by Molly Reitter

CHARLOTTE – Greg Taylor walks out of the kitchen in spotless khaki pants and a striped shirt. He stops for an instant to correct a chair that’s sitting askew and heartily greet a customer as he makes his way to the table.

The Low Country Boil features steamed shrimp, crab legs, sausage, corn and potatoes. (Erik Reitter/MI Monitor photo)

“I’ve been chopping onions in the back,” he said with a gravelly voice and wide grin. “I must stink to high heaven.”

After years working as a general manager and district manager for various restaurant chains, Taylor has struck out on his own with a new restaurant.

“This area really needs a restaurant,” he said. “But it needs a restaurant that caters to the customer.”

MVP’s Raw Bar & Grill is located where the old Vinnie’s used to be, and while it looks similar, the philosophy is all new. The bar and grill has large doors that open to a patio with ample seating. When the doors are open, fresh, cool air circulates as the waitresses prepare for the lunch crowd.

There’s not one seat in the main dining area that does not have a view of a TV. Sports memorabilia and beach items commingle on the walls. There are no low tables. Bar stools pepper the dining room circled around tables.

This seating is strategic as the bar and grill have to maintain a dual life: family-friendly dining for lunch and dinner with a lively bar crowd in the evening.

Taylor worked as a manager at the Vinnie’s but left several years ago when management changed. The similarities to Vinnie’s are bound to happen, but Taylor sees that as a plus.

“People already were familiar with having a restaurant in this location,” he said. “Now we just have to show them how we are better!”

The menu is short and sweet, with fewer seafood options but more creativity. The cod BLT is a dense masterpiece of a sandwich, guaranteed to satisfy even the largest appetite.

The Cobb salad is gigantic and gorgeously laid out with perfect lines of egg, blue cheese, tomato, cheese, olives and marinated chicken.

The low country seafood boil is filled with fresh crab legs and shrimp with the perfect amount of seasoning.

Ashley Jacobs, of Mooresville, familiarly known as AJ, is a bartender who just got promoted to assistant manager. She worked with Taylor at the Vinnie’s in Lake Norman. When he called Jacobs to see if she was available to work at his new restaurant, she jumped at the chance.

“Truly, his only fault is that he’s a Steelers fan,” Jacobs said with a big grin.

Waitress Brittany Moose, of Mount Holly, also came running when Taylor asked her to work at the restaurant. They had also worked together at a previous restaurant.

“He is so helpful that sometimes I forget he is the manager,” Moose said.

Scott Bigelow, of Huntersville, and Bobby Thompson, of Mountain Island, are bellied up to the bar having lunch.

“He his getting his mail delivered here,” Bigelow joked about Thompson, who eats here most weekdays.

“It’s the quality and tastiness of the food,” Thompson said. He said he’s tried at least half of the menu.

“Plus [Taylor] has this charming personality and can really control the crowd,” Bigelow added, finishing off his “chicken bomber” sandwich.

Taylor has been so successful with the Mountain Island location that a new MVP’s is on the way, down in the University area on W.T. Harris Blvd. But that won’ diminish the attention given to this location.

Taylor still has to attend to his MVP’s.

“The customer is THE most important thing to us,” he said. “The customer is truly the MVP.”

MVP’s Raw Bar & Grill

10916 Black Dog Lane, Charlotte

704-394-2129

www.mvpsrawbar.com

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