Located in the heart of the Elizabeth neighborhood of Uptown Charlotte, at the corner of 7th Street and Pecan Avenue, lies The Stanley, the area’s up and coming farm to table inspired restaurant. With over 20 years’ experience, James Beard-nominated Chef Paul Verica is passionate about the locally sourced art of cooking.

The Stanley The Carolinas Equestrian 01

Paul Verica began his intricate journey to success by washing dishes at age 15 in his hometown outside of Philadelphia, Pa., and was “hooked to the hospitality industry.” After high school, Paul enrolled in the hospitality program at Delaware Community College where he received an Associate’s Degree in Hotel and Restaurant Management. He later enrolled at The Restaurant School at Walnut Hill. While attending school and simultaneously working at the French and Thai inspired restaurant, Nais Cuisine, Paul realized he “wanted to be a chef” and attained his culinary degree. From a stint in France to becoming executive chef at several restaurants in the US including Executive Chef and Director of Food Service at the Club of Longview, Paul was introduced to, embraced, and later acclaimed for his farm to table style.

While Paul credits the “amazing” cooking of his paternal grandmother, mother, and sister along with a multitude of professional influences and peers as his inspirations for becoming a chef, he claims, “the restaurant business has always come naturally to me. I have been working in the industry for more than half my life and my goal was always to start my own business.” Paul achieved this goal upon opening Heritage Food and Drink in Waxhaw in 2013. Paul relocated to Charlotte over 20 years ago and describes the area as “a great place to raise a family (specifically his 3 children), the weather is awesome, and the people are nice…I consider Charlotte my home.” Paul has been a supporter and a driving force in the farm to table movement in Charlotte for the past 15 years. Heritage Food and Drink earned Charlotte Magazine’s Best Restaurant award in 2016 emphasizing Paul’s influence in the area.

The Stanley The Carolinas Equestrian 02While Paul fondly describes Heritage’s 4-year business as a “great run,” he realized he “needed a bigger space” and searched for a year to find the perfect spot. Paul says, “I recall the day I walked into this space and saw the original pressed tin ceiling and these beautiful etched glass windows. The neighborhood is awesome … I do not think I chose the space … I think it chose me.” The 1937 building rests in a section of the modern Elizabeth neighborhood formerly known as “Stanleyville” which is how The Stanley received its name. Paul wanted to pay homage to the history of the neighborhood and honor the history of where the restaurant is located. The Stanley is a 2,800 square foot building and hosts fine-dining for brunch, dinner, with wine, cocktails and beer. The soft lighting in the main room provides an intimate setting for diners. There is also a private space in the back for hosting private parties and events.

The vintage and historical charm of the building is the perfect setting for Chef Paul and his sous chef and son, Alex, to carry out their locally sourced, creative approach to their farm to table style. With a food style blend of classic, modern, and a “whimsical” approach, Paul says, “Our menu is a constant evolution.” Paul believes “there are no rules” in creating new menu ideas and he and his team are currently “playing with ideas that include pop rocks and push up pops.” Paul firmly believes in toying with new items and ingredients and enjoys modifying his craft. He and his team must create new dishes based on the seasonal availability of the local item. Paul agrees, “sometimes I get a little carried away with my ideas, but Alex does a great job of reeling me in and making sure we can execute.” One of the restaurant’s top sellers on his ever-evolving menu are the Paul Verica “take” on chicken nuggets. Paul playfully says, “Why? Because we can and who doesn’t love chicken nuggets? I take this business so seriously; sometimes too seriously. I work about 60 hours per week, so I need to have fun while I’m doing it.” He also believes that his “customers like that our menu is always changing; I hope it is as much fun for them as it is for us.”

Paul describes the concept of The Stanley as “driven by our farmers and the ingredients that they provide for us … everything starts and ends with them.” Paul supports North Carolina agriculture by “purchasing from around 10 local farms per week within 50 miles of Charlotte.” Of these main suppliers, “two are located in Waxhaw including New Town Farms and Boy and Girl Farm. Another main supplier is located just outside of uptown called Small City Farm.”

With his farm to table philosophy and his creative, passionate, and critically acclaimed approach to food, Chef Paul Verica and The Stanley are pillars in North Carolina’s local agriculture and cemented in honoring the history of Charlotte. For more information about The Stanley, menu options, or to make reservations, please visit thestanleyclt.com or call 980-299-2741.

The Stanley The Carolinas Equestrian 03

Photographs courtesy of The Stanley