Different is Good: The Story Behind The Name

Everyone wants to know why we chose a name like The Rusty Onion for the place that serves the best pizza Carolina has to offer After all, rust and food don’t generally go together and, as a beloved beast in a Disney movie pointed out, “not everybody likes onions” – most onions, anyway. The response to this particular onion has been really good, and we’re pretty proud of that. So, how did we come up with the name, you ask? Well, we wanted a place that would stand out in the local restaurant line up, and in order to do that, we had to be willing to take some risks. We know that some critics will try to point out the obvious and say that our name was one of those risks – we’re actually counting on it. It made you curious, right? You’re here, after all, and that was the point.

Our goal is to provide a dining experience that goes beyond the usual, one that dares to cross over into the “you just have to try it” when you talk about us. So yes, we did name our restaurant with the word “rust” in it, and we did use an onion as our ambassador – and we promise that once you try it, you’ll tell anyone who tries to steal a bite to “get your own.”

Who Is Behind The Concept?

Charlotte Restauranteurs, The Margiotis Family

Charlotte Restauranteurs, The Margiotis Family. Left to Right: Maria, Jimmy and Yia Yia Margaret at the soft opening June 2013

If you’re a Charlotte area dining veteran, you’ve probably heard of John’s Country Kitchen in Plaza-Midwood. It’s a little family-owned diner at the corner of Central Avenue and Thomas Street that has been serving breakfast and lunch faithfully for 30 years. Because of the friendly service and the mother-son cooking team, John’s has become a staple of the Charlotte culinary scene. Jimmy took over the family business for his father, John, just after he finished high school.

Jimmy has worked hard to honor his father’s memory and he has continued to provide a product and level of customer service worthy of his father’s good name at John’s County Kitchen. As a result, it’s no surprise how diverse the clientele at John’s has grown to be. Every day, Jimmy serves breakfast and lunch to Charlotte’s blue-collar, white-collar, government and public service professionals, and they have all asked for something new and different in town. With The Rusty Onion, Jimmy is giving them exactly that.

Building the Onion | About the Team

Inside the Onion | Custom Finishings by NORTEK Construction
In 2012, Jimmy enlisted the help of his friend and frequent John’s customer, Dave Carmona – a Charlotte-area general contractor who owns NORTEK Construction to help bring the architectural vision of W. Stanley Russell into three dimensions at the flagship location of The Rusty Onion in Carmel Commons shopping center. Dave has a flair for specialty finishes (concrete, metalwork, woodwork) and an appreciation for quality food and microbrews. The finishings inside the restaurant – from the custom concrete bar tops and floors to the woodwork of the shelving, tables and benches – are the fruits of Dave’s artistry.

Charlotte Pizza | Charlotte Restaurants | The Rusty Onion

A confident name needs a confident brand

Both Stan and Dave knew that a name like The Rusty Onion called for a confident brand, so Dave enlisted a local graphic designer named Lindy Dobbins to create an identity that had enough swagger to really sell the name. Dave met Lindy in the Charlotte music scene, and he knew her style would be a great fit based on the work she did to promote her music. Lindy took one look at the name and said, “If you’re gonna name your restaurant using rust and onions, you’ve really gotta own it.” Her mission was to do just that.

What none of us could imagine was how much the community wanted a new place in town, one that would offer something different from the standard fare. As soon as the temporary signs appeared on the building and the Facebook page was set up, the good people of Charlotte made their interest known, and we have been truly humbled by the response to our efforts.

What Makes The Rusty Onion Anything But Typical?

From our name to our cuisine, we aim to be unique. We know that this counts most for our menu, and we want to provide the best pizza Carolina has to offer. We have listened to your feedback and worked with local industry experts to deliver a selection that will appeal to the adventurous as well as the conservative, the big spenders and the thrifty. We want to be the best at what we do, so we also appreciate and welcome your feedback. Got an idea for a unique and interesting menu item or event? Tell us about it – we’d love to hear from you!