Uptown Greenville, North Carolina’s Dickinson Avenue will gain a new outdoor dining experience as Taft Family Ventures and Monteith Construction Company work to finish the construction of Amante Tacos & Spirits.
The property, located at the corner of Dickinson Avenue and Reade Circle, will bring a new Central American cuisine restaurant to Uptown, set to open in the upcoming weeks of November. Thomas Taft Jr., principal of Taft Family Ventures Development Group, said that the construction company is still waiting on building supplies.
“They are in huge demand, so prices have gone up about three times and they are also a pain in the rear to work with. We found a company out of Charlotte (North Carolina) called Boxman. They actually create modular units that look just like shipping containers,” Taft said.
Taft said the idea for the construction of the restaurant was to incorporate refurbished shipping crates, but with demand for these being high, the development group was unable to use them. Even though using modular units seems silly for the original intent of the restaurant, Taft said this solution is best to combat the increasing expense of actual shipping containers.
Shipping materials have tripled in cost due to high demand in this past year, Taft said. Instead, modular containers made and shipped out of Charlotte, North Carolina, will be used for the main building of Amante Tacos & Spirits restaurant.
“No indoor dining, it will be all outside. So January and February are going to be interesting months. The idea is that we have two fire pits and a bunch of gas heaters,” Taft said.
The inspiration for the design of this outdoor dining experience was centered around the Greenville family, game day and night-life culture, Taft said. He said he wants the restaurant to be a safe and entertaining place that will cater to all people during lunch, dinner and late nights with street food and drinks.
Taft said there will be a lawn area where picnics will be encouraged and there will be a signature Amante Tacos & Spirits alcoholic beverage.
“The idea is to fill a gap in the market as well. In Greenville, we’re pretty blessed to have a diverse food scene, but you sort of got Americanized Mexican and Central American food,” Taft said. “That’s a very specific client base that you are going to get from them (Greenville restaurants). Pupusas, empanadas, tacos, that is going to be the focus foods.”
Snacks, tacos, homemade chips and salsa and all hand-held foods are the idea for the restaurant's menu, Taft said. He also said that, if the restaurant is successful, then Amante Tacos & Spirits will plan to expand the menu.
Taft said his company’s initial concern would be help from the Greenville community. He said Taft Family Ventures was worried that Greenville natives and East Carolina University students would be hesitant to invest in such a different dining experience, but nonetheless, he also added that the appreciation of the Greenville community has been overwhelming.
“We were worried about this being a challenge, but the appreciation and desire to invest has been really strong,” Taft said.
Amante Tacos & Spirits is a business that is unique to Greenville, Taft said. He said if the business shows great success within this college community, Taft Family Ventures may look to help Amante Tacos & Spirits open a new location in Greenville, South Carolina.
Taft said his company is currently working on unrelated commercial development in South Carolina, but the company would be eager to bring Amante Tacos & Spirits to this new location.
“If we kept it (Amante Spirits & Tacos) here in Greenville, that would probably drive out decision making one way. We have been toying with the idea, we work a lot in Greenville, South Carolina, we have a big project there that’s a great space. If we went there, we would probably change it up a little bit,” Taft said.
As of date of publication, Amante Tacos & Spirits has not yet returned comment on its upcoming opening.
Graham Smith, senior operations manager for Monteith Construction Company and an ECU alumnus, said he is excited to see Amante Tacos & Spirits open because he sees the restaurant construction as a way to give back to his college community.
Smith said he enjoys seeing the progress Greenville’s Uptown area has made in the past years, and he said with Monteith Construction, he gets to be a part of that progress.
“I was there (ECU) for Construction Management, it’s been great to be back in Greenville to give back to the community that gave me my education and a ton of memories,” Smith said.
Monteith Construction has faced various challenges throughout the duration of this project, Smith said. He said the company has experienced issues obtaining building materials such as the shipping containers that were to be used for this project.
With supply and demand trends for shipping containers, prices are high for the containers, Smith said, so that is why the project is using Boxman Studios’ modular units.
“The current market has created many challenges with procurement of readily available materials. We have been able to pivot as needed to find alternate materials and new material sources to maintain our schedule,” Smith said.
Faith Davenport, senior entrepreneurship major and resident of University Edge and Dickinson Lofts, said she is excited to see a new restaurant open so close to her apartment.
Davenport said the restaurant is conveniently located. She said if the restaurant was higher scale, it would be harder for her to support the business, but with it being an outdoor, street-style restaurant, Amante Tacos & Spirits will be a great place for her to stop and get a quick bite to eat.
“It sounds like it will be a very convenient sport to pick up food on my way home. However, if it is more like a fancy restaurant, I don’t see myself going there that much,” Davenport said.
Davenport said she expects Amante Tacos & Spirits to be a big hit for ECU fans before football games. Her only concern for the area is parking, as Dickinson Avenue has few options for parking during crowded game days, and this might cause a problem, Davenport said.
Parking already seems to be an issue on Dickinson Avenue and this is before the restaurant opens, Davenport said. She said she doesn't want Amante Tacos & Spirits to be another concern for parking near her apartment building.
“I feel like it might be a great spot for families to eat on game days. Parking might be an issue, however, because I know a lot of people that already struggle with that a lot in this area,” Davenport said.
The City of Greenville is in need of change, Davenport said. This idea of hers may be because she is a Greenville native and lived here her entire life, she said, but she thinks this restaurant has the potential to be a great addition to Uptown.
Davenport said she thinks ECU students are more inclined to attend the clubs after dark, but she said there really isn’t a place that would offer late-night outdoor drinks like Amante Tacos & Spirits plans to right now.
“I know college students are more into clubs, however, a night of drinking with friends in an outdoor setting sounds like a lot of fun,” Davenport said.