The WP Kitchen + Bar, formerly know as Wolfgang Puck Pizza Kitchen, is located at Phillips Place in Charlotte, NC. According to the Charlotte Agenda, a name change occurred because the restaurant wanted to pivot away from being known as a pizza joint. The restaurant offers an upscale casual dining experience containing a full bar and plenty of table seating. Lunch and dinner are served each day. Their operating hours are Monday through Thursday from 11:30 - 2:30 p.m. and 5 - 10 p.m. On Friday, they stay open until 11 p.m. As for Saturday and Sunday, WP Kitchen + Bar serves continuously throughout the day.
The dinner menu contains an assortment of starters, sandwiches, entrees, pastas, and pizzas. While many of the food options are Italian inspired, there is a large assortment of other offerings available. It is relatively easy to share items on the menu with others. When I eat at WP Kitchen + Bar, pizzas and pastas are shared around the table. The portion sizes are also small enough for one person to finish.
One thing that has not changed over time at WP Kitchen + Bar is the delicious pizzas. They are the go-to items on the menu for my friends and I. The Pepperoni and Fennel Sausage pizzas are my personal favorites. If you are not interested in ordering pizza, they do offer other great food options. My wife greatly enjoys the Turkey Bolognese. One of our friends also recommends the Rigatoni Alfredo.
The alcoholic beverage options are plentiful and reasonably priced. We have ordered multiple bottles of the Augustinos Reserva Malbec. You cannot go wrong with their specialty cocktails as well. Whether you are in the mood for pizza or a casual dining experience, WP Kitchen + Bar is a fine choice in SouthPark.
Ichibancon 10 was another great experience in Concord, NC. I attended the convention for most of Saturday. My panel on traveling to Japan kicked off the day at 10 a.m. I was impressed with the friendly and helpful volunteer staff that got the room ready. There was a dedicated technician for Events 2 all day. The room was huge and could hold up to 180 people. It was quite an upgrade from the previous year. Thank you to everyone who attended my panel and for asking great questions. My goal is to always have people walk away with the basic knowledge and information to plan their own amazing adventure.
I attended other panels throughout the day including Best Beatdowns in Boruto/Naruto! by cyberkaiser. It was a panel on the differences between fighting and action scenes, character development, and a little history about ninjutsu. He hosted an impressive 8 panels throughout the weekend. I recommend attending one of his panels at a future convention.
One of the most well-attended panels was Beyond Sushi: Japanese Recipes for the American Otaku. The host covered simple recipes for karaage, port cutlet, and udon dishes along with where to buy ingredients. She did a great job explaining each step and ingredient to the audience. Japanese cookbooks sometimes do a poor job showing what ingredients are called in English and where to purchase them.
The most audience engaging panel I attended was Japanese Class with Kohei. The panel was hosted by Kohei, an aspiring singer and composer living in New York City. He was very energetic and encouraged attendees to try pronouncing various phrases in Japanese. At the end of the panel, he did a small singing performance.
The Japanese arcade room had even more games and offerings this year. A few new notable games were present including Time Crisis 5. I never saw an arcade cabinet unattended throughout Saturday. The back of the room was full of console games. Most of the stations were fighting games available across multiple consoles. They held a number of fighting game tournaments over the weekend.
The convention had a fair amount of voice actors and other guests. The most notable voice actors in attendance were Steve Blum and Vic Mignoga. Blum is famous for his role as Spike Spiegel in Cowboy Bebop and Wolverine across multiple animated X-Men shows. Mignoga voice acted popular characters like Edward Elric in Fullmetal Alchemist and Eld Gin in Attack on Titan.
While I did not attend the main event or the late night glow stick parties, I saw they very popular. There were some amazing costumes people wore on Saturday. One of my favorite outfits was a gentlemen dressed as Kefka from Final Fantasy VI. There were dozens of attendees dressed as characters from popular shows like Naruto and My Hero Academia. I encourage anyone in the Charlotte area with an interest in Japanese culture or anime to attend Ichibancon in 2020.
The 2018 Belk Bowl saw two college football teams play at Bank of America Stadium in Charlotte, NC. The stadium hosts home games for the Carolina Panthers NFL team. The University of Virginia defeated the University of South Carolina with a final score of 28-0. I was fortunate enough to win two tickets to the Gridiron Club for the Belk Bowl. The Gridiron Club luxury suite renovation was complete ahead of the 2008-2009 football season according to Turner Construction. Normally, season ticket prices for one of the 282 seats in the Gridiron Club run $4,900 plus a one time fee of $10,000 to $15,000 dollars.
The Gridiron Club offers a unique fan experience not found in other luxury suites at Bank of America Stadium. As you walk in the Gridiron Club, everything is to the right except for bathrooms and a coat rack. Before you reach the large bar area, you will pass by private lockers and a viewing area with theater seating. For a typical Panthers football game, the bar is fully stocked with beer, wine, liquor, mixers, coffee, and bottled water. Everything but liquor was offered for the Belk Bowl. The large area past the bar contains food stations with various options. There are a number tables and seats around the bar area for people to eat or watch a plethora of televisions.
In addition to enjoying the indoor amenities, each game ticket includes an assigned outdoor seat. The outdoor seats are cushioned and larger than the average stadium seat. Televisions and heaters hang overhead to make the experience even more enjoyable. There is ample legroom and a shelf to hold food and beverages. I have never had a more comfortable experience watching a football game. While end zone corner seating is considered a less desirable view of the field, the amenities more than make up for the location. My friend and I had an amazing day at the Belk Bowl. I highly recommend attending any football game if you are given the chance to experience it inside the Gridiron Club.