Chef Sam Diminich’s Restaurant Constance is set to open Friday, Jan. 27, right next door to The City Kitch on Thrift Road in the Wesley Heights neighborhood.
Diminich has a lot of accolades to his name — recovery advocate, founder of Your Farms Your Table, winner of ”Beat Bobby Flay” on Food Network, former personal chef to Christian McCaffrey — but if you ask him, his most important title is simply , “Daddy.”
When Diminich named his daughter Constance 18 years ago, he had no idea he’d also be naming his future restaurant. A nod to his daughter, the restaurant will be in the former Counter- location — adjacent to Diminich’s Your Farms Your Table space at The City Kitch.
“I didn’t even really have any aspirations of opening a restaurant, especially when the pandemic happened — I was really resentful of the industry,” Diminich said. “But when I started doing in-home events as part of Your Farms Your Table, I started to remember the person-to-person energy and how it feels to connect with people. Food is my language and seeing people’s reaction to it is special.”
The food at Restaurant Constance
The concept for Restaurant Constance is similar to Your Farms Your Table delivery service in that it will feature all locally grown, seasonal food that changes regularly and supports the local farming community. The difference is that Restaurant Constance will feature a carefully refined menu of what Diminich says are the most important foods in his life.
A peek at one menu shows raw bar offerings and other starters such as shrimp dumplings ($17) and smoked chicken lettuce wraps ($15.50). Entrees include striped bass ($31), marinated scallops ($37.50) and short ribs ($35.50).
So how did Diminich pick the name?
“When I think of energy and creativity I think of Constance — there is no blueprint for first-time parenthood, so we really grew up together,” Diminich said.
Things were not always smooth sailing between Diminich and his children. He battled addiction and homelessness and was violently attacked while living on the streets of Charlotte before starting on his sobriety journey in 2014.
“I get a lot of love for being a solid parent but I think it’s important to point out that when I was struggling I wasn’t around for almost three years. There was a reintroduction process with me and my kids and their mom, and it took about a year and a half,” Diminich said. “They showed me such compassion and empathy — things I haven’t witnessed yet.”
Diminich felt stigmatized and uncomfortable with himself, but having them there as he grew, allowed their relationship to do the same.
“Something really special happened — the relationship with my kids shifted from a parental dynamic to more of a friendship-based relationship. I wouldn’t be the person I am today without them. They were witnesses to someone failing — and failing in a big way — but also picking themselves back up as well. They have a front-row seat and there is something to learn from that,” Diminich said.
When Diminich shared with his daughter that he was planning to name his new restaurant after her, Constance was elated — but how did his son, Allan Grey, feel?
“He joked, can I at least get a burger? A sandwich named after me? Something?” Diminich said.
There will be a doorway between Restaurant Constance and Your Farms Your Table so that both spaces can be used for meal and event preparation, and Diminich can oversee all operations. He also has also handpicked a leadership team, which he described as humble, resilient and reflective of the diverse community it is serving.
Location: 2200 Thrift Road, Charlotte, NC 28208