800˚ Woodfired Kitchen

Now open in South Charlotte

Behind the successful launch of 800˚ Woodfired Kitchen, the newest restaurant in Charlotte, is an ancient Chinese proverb: “The wise adapt themselves to circumstances, as water molds itself to the pitcher.”

To co-owner Steven Jensen, the proverb aptly describes his circuitous journey to start 800˚ Woodfired Kitchen with partner Kyle O’Brien. It started with a search for a new challenge after a 30-year career as a Los Angeles-based talent manager/producer, got rudely interrupted by Covid, was resuscitated by O’Brien reaching out to Charlotte developer and Phillips Place owner Johnny Harris, and ended where it started: Jensen’s commitment to put family first.

After moving from Los Angeles to Ballantyne with his two children in the Summer of 2019, Jensen met with the national partners of 800˚ Woodfired Kitchen and narrowed the search for the restaurant’s first location in the Carolinas. Shortly after, in early 2020, the business of dine-in restaurants came to a screeching halt, and all plans for expansion halted.

Enter Kyle O’Brien, a Charlotte-based businessperson and longtime food and beverage entrepreneur. O’Brien was interested in bringing the 800˚ Woodfired Kitchen concept – founded in 2011 by chef Anthony Carron – to the Carolinas, namely Charlotte, and contacted Jensen.

O’Brien connected with Johnny Harris, who was looking to continue a refresh of Phillips Place. 800˚ Woodfired Kitchen fit into the new feel of the well-known retail destination.

The restaurant opened in July 2021, as 800˚ Woodfired Kitchen’s 15th location, after extensive renovations, to create the brand’s first true fine-dining experience.

The restaurant gets its name from the custom-built woodfire oven, with a rotating circular base, using almond wood at a consistent 800˚ temperature, which works to infuse the right amount of smokiness in each individual dish.

The inspired dishes include the Honey Badger Pizza, topped with spicy soppressata, Calabrian chile and a hint of wildflower honey, offering a delicious combination of spicy and sweet. For those who prefer a fine-dining experience, they offer salmon, crab cakes an amazing filet and weekly specials all cooked to perfection in the 800° oven.

Locally and organically-sourced ingredients are the staple of every dish, most notably in the generous portion offered in the $20 Salad, created specifically for the Carolinas, with quinoa tabbouleh, Tuscan kale, garbanzo beans, avocado and cucumbers, tossed in a delicious lemon tahini dressing and topped with your choice of protein.

Jensen and O’Brien didn’t stop there, after realizing the local limited late-nite dining and cocktailing options, they opened BAR ONE LOUNGE, which is attached to 800. The space has an exclusive, yet comfortable feel with original artwork, walnut cabinetry and leather booths in addition to a distinguished cocktail menu and a hand-picked wine list. Jensen and O’Brien refer to the feel of BAR ONE LOUNGE simply as “the anti-mixologist vibe.”

Yet, still, family remains paramount to Jensen. After moving to the area with his family, he’s determined to make the restaurant a family affair, even adding a family favorite to the menu: his grandmother’s meatloaf (Nana Gloria’s Meatloaf), from a recipe honed by his cousin, an internationally recognized chef. Some of the walls are decorated with Jensen’s fiance’s original oil paintings, his Mother’s watercolor work and other eclectic artwork procured locally. Jensen’s children are loyal customers and have become an integral part of the 800 family.

Family is the only one who would support a first-time restauranteur opening a restaurant during a pandemic. Jensen and O’Brien refer to their staff as their extended family. Located at 6815 Phillips Place Court, the restaurant is open for lunch and dinner Sunday through Thursday, 11 a.m. to 10 p.m., and Friday and Saturday, from 11 a.m. to 11 p.m. BAR ONE LOUNGE, which also serves the full menu, is open from 11 a.m. to 11 p.m. Sunday through Thursday and 11 a.m. to 2 a.m. on weekends.