Yep! It’s that time! My monthly “Supporting Local” blog post.
(I only promised it approximately a good month ago -eek! Sorry for the delay.
I can blame COVID-19 still, right?!)
Every time I do one of these “Supporting Local” blog posts, I get so excited thinking about who I should highlight. It can be a tad overwhelming, in a good way, because there is so much around our beautiful city to get into!! Not just Concord, NC, too… in fact, two of the three businesses I plan to shout out today are located in Kannapolis, NC. I love bee-bopping between the two different areas, and I hope after reading about these fun places that you too will give them a try!! Let’s dive in…
Havana Carolina Restaurant & Bar
11 Union Street S Suite #108, Concord, NC 28025
Click HERE to be directed to their Facebook page!!
I have to give my husband props on this one! He was the one who introduced me to this faaaaabulous restaurant, tucked away in the heart of Downtown Concord. I believe I’ve mentioned that my husband and I are both “sandwich people”, right? Well, if you’re hearing it here for the first time, trust and believe, we live for sandwiches of all shapes and kinds. Feel like you’ve never seen this restaurant before? That’s probably because you haven’t looked close enough! Like I said, it’s kind of tucked away and to the unobservant eye, you may totally miss a Concord gem. There are a couple ways to get inside: Union Street side & Church Street side. Here are walking instructions for the Union Street side: If you’re walking along Union Street, window shopping through adorable Downtown, & pass Cabarrus Creamery on your right? You’ll find yourself in front of a building with two glass store fronts (one’s a restaurant called The Grille, and I believe the other one is retail. It recently changed, so I apologize for not being 100% sure… it may even be currently empty). You’ll walk through the automatic doors into the air conditioning , and you’ll see a long hallway straight ahead. Dead end at the back of that hallway, and you’ll have found yourself at the front doors of Havana Carolina!! You may be able to just follow the aroma and not need my instructions, but just in case. Now, for the Church Street side instructions: If you’re driving down Church Street, you just crossed over Cabarrus Ave E, and you can see the WhataBurger sign up on the right. BEFORE you pass Whataburger, there is a parking lot to the right. Pull in! Be careful, some spots are reserved and they don’t play when it comes to reserved parking in DTC. As you pull in, you’ll see a patio area for one of our favorite local bars, Lil’ Roberts Place, to the right you’ll see signs for Red Hill Brewing, and then there will be a building to the right of that. There’s a glass door, and usually a sign pointing you in the right direction for Havana! Through that glass down, down some steps, you’ll find the back entrance of this amazing restaurant. You’ll have to walk around the restaurant to the front entrance to be greeted by a host, but as you do so you can look into the windows and enjoy the decor and atmosphere of this Cuban themed restaurant. I hope that helped when it comes to finding this staple, and know it’s totally worth the hunt! Honestly, it’s not really even a hunt, but I remember thinking the first time eating there that I would have never thought to look here to find this level of deliciousness.
Now, let me walk you through what we typically order, and our review on their food!! The REAL reason you’ve probably read this far, right?! “Where’s the meat?!” Ok, ok. I shall deliver. If you have no idea what to get at a Cuban restaurant, you really cannot go wrong by ordering the classic: A Cuban Sandwich.
Check. Out. That. Beauty!
I cannot stress this enough: you need to try this sandwich. It really speaks for itself in just a photo alone, but do yourself a flavor and go order one TODAY! Ham… pulled pork… cheese… pickles…. that Cuban bread?! MM!
So, what should you get to go with it?? I mean, the safe choice is always french fries. Right? That’s my comfort zone, any way. But I decided “to hell with my comfort zone” and tried something new! Plantain chips or Mariquitas. I have tried sweet plantains before, they’re called “Maduros” (and are absolutely amazing, you have to get a side of those as well), but these were like fried little chips of plantain goodness, lightly salted, and addictive as all get out.
We like to dip them in the dipping sauce that comes with the Croquettes, it’s like a mayo-garlic-cilantro mixture (called Salsa de Cilantro) and it pairs very nicely with the crunch of the chip! Let me not mention croquettes and not explain to you how AMAZING these are! These are yet another item on their menu that you must try when you go to Havana Carolina. I’ll admit though, my first time going and trying these? I was skeptical. I googled what the heck a Croquette was, and found some interesting descriptions: Croquettes are simply a breadcrumbed and fried roll of food leftovers, usually bound with bechamel sauce or mashed potatoes. Um… what?! Leftovers? But, rest assured, they’re not using leftovers. That obviously would not be up to code. It kind of reminds me of finely chopped ham salad on the inside, and it’s rolled in a beautifully golden, deep fried & crunchy outside. Again, the dipping sauce that comes with it gives me LIFE and I want to marinate all my meats in it. I need to find out what it consists of, exactly, just so that I can do that! I’m a texture person, and if something tastes great but also, texture wise, is pleasant? I’ll become addicted, and sure enough, these are truly addictive for taste and texture both. You’ve been warned!
Havana Carolina has quite a lot more on their menu that I have yet to try, but I know that regardless of what you order that you will be pleasantly surprised and delighted! They’re a full bar restaurant, and their margarita’s are bomb! If you know me, I’m a bit of a margarita connoisseur. I can practically point you in the direction of the top 5 best in this area (light bulb: oooooh, that’d be a fun blog post!) Havana Carolina DEFINITELY makes the cut!!
My family and I love this Concord staple, and we hope that you are intrigued and plan to try it soon! If you try something not mentioned in this blog post, comment below and let us know what you think! Promise you won’t be disappointed, yet totally in love with the whole shebang. Enjoy!!
Something fun AND yum:
Lovely Lines Boutique
2071 Dale Earnhardt Blvd Kannapolis, NC 28083
Click HERE to check out their Facebook page!!
Take a step into the most loving and accepting boutique you’ve ever been to: Lovely Lines Boutique. Seriously, though. Even before I got to know the two owners somewhat, they treated me like one of their life long girlfriends from the moment I first stepped into their space. Erica & Jess are always eager to help me find a special item, make suggestions based off what will flatter my “lovely lines” and always make me feel beautiful by the time I leave. The atmosphere is so positive and so loving, it’s almost like they have it in an air freshener plugged into the wall somewhere. Need a moment of chill and a moment of full acceptance for who you are? Drive over to Kannapolis and TREAT YO SELF.
Let me introduce you to these masterminds behind this lovely boutique!
(wording in italics are taken from their Facebook page)
Meet Erica… Mother of three – Lexia, Sybella and Emerick and wife to Jeremy! Full time digital artist at WE Creative. She’s the tech behind this duo.
Erica STAYS cracking me up!! She’s so down to Earth, easy to talk to, always makes me laugh and has a great eye for what fits my plus size body. If I can’t make a choice between two shirts, or two colors of a pair of earrings or clutch? Erica is the one I ask, and then she’s likely also the one to talk me into just getting both. I’m worth it, I’m supporting local, and the prices are that good that I can do that! MM! Erica is someone that I just want to go get pedicures with, and then a margarita. She’s someone who you can see yourself being friends with for a lifetime, and she truly cares about all the customers who comes into the boutique. I appreciate knowing that if I need to find a special item for a date night, or a gift for a friend, that her awesome personality will be there to fill up the room and absolutely make my day. Thank you Erica for being a girl’s girl, and for your contribution to making this boutique for us curvy girls.
Meet Jessica… Mother to Grayson and wife to Josh! Full time Designer at WE Creative. She’s got marketing in her blood and never stops plotting the next step to her dream!
Jessica is, without a doubt, the sweetest person I’ve met in a long time. She will totally captivate you with her smile, and her customer service as well. I remember around Christmas time of 2019, when they were temporarily also located inside Carolina Mall, I was trying to pick out a gift to personalize for my daughter and sweet Jessica took the time to help me make the best selection. My daughter and I LOVE our monogrammed crossbody purses, and every time I wear mine I am reminded at how truly awesome that experience was. That’s just one story of many, too, where Jessica helped me personalize or pick out an item. Jessica has always taken the time out of her busy schedule to chat when I come into their boutique. It’s so nice to feel like a priority when you come into their space, and feel surrounded by love and kindness the whole time. If I’m trying on a size, and it’s a little snug? There is ZERO judgement on her sweet face, and she’s super discreet in helping me grab the next size up. In fact, it’s almost like a celebration rather than a let down. Like, “ayeee, rock them curves you sexy beast.” Thank you Jessica for being so kind, and for being a part of this awesome duo who brought Lovely Lines to us!!
You might be thinking to yourself, “Well, I’m not a plus sized girl so this post is a little disappointing.” GIRL. If you think they only help women size 14 and up? You dead wrong. Their choices of one-size-fits-all accessories are to die for! They also are really great at curating other local small business items, like jewelry from The Little White Willow and apparel or novelty items from Dammit Boy, to name a few. So, please don’t feel like you can’t step inside this positive space just because their clothing may not be your size. They have something for EVERYONE and would be more than happy to help you!
Photos above are taken of family & dear friends of mine who were LLB models!
Are they not GORGEOUS?!
Body positivity and feeling good in clothes that make you feel empowered and HOTT is just the minimum of what you can expect to experience when you visit Lovely Lines Boutique. I can guarantee that you will fall in love with their selection, their atmosphere, and their loving personalities. Check out their Facebook page by clicking on the link above for store hours, more information, and even more photos of real customers and women who are totally rocking their awesome curvy figures!
One of my most favorite experiences at LLB was when they had a model call (they frequently do this so follow them on Facebook for the next event), and I had the privilege of being chosen to come model clothes for their online sales and photos for their social media platform! Speaking of EMPOWERING!? I left there feeling like a true model, like my plus sized body was important, and that I was a part of something beautiful. I was so nervous to step in front of that camera, but all of that went out the window as soon as Jess & Erica began to select an outfit for me.
Jess, Erica, and all the staff at LLB have been an integral part in me feeling comfortable in my own skin. You have got to go visit them in Kannapolis, and experience this for yourself. If you go see Jess & Erica? Let them know that Katie sent ya!!
Something fun, yum and YAASS:
Hair Stylist at Maven Salon
109 West Avenue Kannapolis, NC 28081
Find Jenny’s work on her IG: @nipperlinkerlynn
Visit Maven Salon’s Facebook Page by clicking HERE
Also, you can visit their website… here!
Where do I even begin with this sweet & fiery soul? How about with the fact that she does an amazing job on my stubborn head of hair. That’s probably the understatement of the year, to be honest. I have had many hair dressers, all have done a decent job. I’m not knocking anyone who used to do my hair. I’ve had some real talent all up on my head… but JENNY LINKER!! OOOH WEE!!! I’ve heard that finding a soul mate is hard, & that finding a true friend is even harder. No, no, no. I say that finding your soul mate hair dresser, one who colors your hair the way you imagined and styles it to perfection every. single. time. is damn near impossible! Well, I stopped saying that after I sat in her chair after the first time. And the second time. And the fifth time…. you get my point. You see, Jenny goes above and beyond every time I sit in her chair. This mop on top of my head is no walk in the park either. It’s long, it’s thick, it’s gray at the roots, it’s a weird funky wavy that has a mind of its own, AND I want one of the more complicated coloring styles possible: blonde balayage. You know, the intentional look of dark roots to light ends? Each visit we are bringing my hair up to go as blonde as possible, slowly, as to not totally damage my hair. Ohhhh that patience she must have to do one process for my grays and another separate process for the blonde. I know it’s a beast of a job based off the length of my hair, and how long it takes to cover it all. Here’s the thing: Despite it being an absolute JOB?! She never seems bothered, she never seems rushed, and she always tells me to relax when I apologize for the whole ordeal. I am, naturally, and “over-apologizer” any way, yet she consistently reassures me that I have noting to be sorry for. Even after the lengthy ordeal of two different processes plus toning, a thorough washing (probably my favorite part), trimming my dead ends, and THEN blow drying my hair to a smooth and soft blow out?? She still takes the time to put some curl in it & style it nicely. This is no “2 hour hair appointment” we are talking about, y’all. This is her putting in some WORK, and my goodness the end results are BOMB!! She always makes sure to educate me on how to take care of it in between appointments, and points me in the direction of what products I’ll love. She really covers all the bases, and all my grays. Hallelujah!
Besides being the best hair stylist I have ever seen, Jenny also has a banging personality. This chick just gets me. I can spill alllll the tea, and I know that it stays locked away in a vault where only her and I keep tabs on it. I have trusted her with some pretty serious stories, and I have never once worried if it would be repeated. That’s worth its weight in gold to me, y’all. Especially amongst southern women. HAA! We are known for our small town gossip. She doesn’t just sit there and “uh huh” me to death, either. She gives me real advice, applicable advice, loving and caring advice that really resonates with me. She doesn’t come across as a “know it all” but just instead like a therapist who points you in the direction you didn’t know you needed to go. Sitting in her chair is like sitting in a therapist’ chair, and I feel “mind-body-soul” taken care of after each appointment. That’s rare, chicas. That’s why I mentioned before that I no longer say that it’s damn near impossible to find a soul mate hair stylist, because I finally found her in THE Jenny Linker of Maven Salon in Downtown Kannapolis, NC.
If you’re looking for a hair stylist that not only will leave you looking like a million bucks, but make you feel worth that, too? Then look no further. Give this gal a ring, book an appointment, and let me know what ya think!
Besides, the new cute Maven Salon is truly a looker. The boho decor was something I took mental note on the entire time I was there, and plan to implement in my own home. CURTIS!! Get your paint brushes ready, babe*wink*. The salon fits right in with the newness of the Downtown Kannapolis area, and if you haven’t taken a stroll down the recently (and still, currently being) renovated streets of DTK, then I urge you to go. Like, now.
Thank you so much for reading this months “supporting local’ blog post! It’s one of my favorite things to write about, and I really hope that you are eager to give these 3 spots and small businesses a try! If you have a small business and want us to give it a shout, go to the “Holla” page at the top and send us a message! We’d be honored to feature your business in our next post!!
Support local, support small, support your city!!
So much love to ya,