MATTHEWS – Jason Niec is making a clean start of sorts at the Black Chicken Market, which had its grand opening May 8.
Niec has been in the same spot for nearly a decade operating the 500-square-foot Black Chicken Wine Cellar while also co-owning and running Black Chicken in Waxhaw for the past four and a half years.
He and his partner and co-owner recently sold their Waxhaw location, which Niec is helping to transition into a Cork and Ale with the new owners soon.
Niec’s wine shop had been next to the Subway that closed at 131-1B Matthews Station St. When it did, he went all in and completed construction on the new Black Chicken Market on March 4.
So what’s changed? Everything.
The market now has eight beers on tap and 35 to 40 more selections of bottles. The taps change every time they run out, but Kronenbourg is Niec’s favorite beer and always on tap.
There is wine from wall to wall in a large section of the store. There are around 12 by-the-glass selections, but Niec will allow customers to open any bottle on his shelves. Niec is very knowledgeable, but most of his reviews on Yelp.com paint him as friendly and not pushy.
The market has an expanded selection of fine and imported cheeses, but also a fully staffed kitchen that serves food from 11 a.m. to close.
“It’s more of a deli/daily market and a place to get a quick lunch of high quality and a place to come have a glass or bottle of wine and some good draft beer,” Niec said. “There is something for everyone.”
Black Chicken Market serves cheese and charcuterie boards and salads like a chef with ham, turkey, swiss, cheddar, tomatoes and egg or a popular smoked salmon salad that comes with avocado, arugula, spinach, red onion, d’anjou pear, walnuts and a house made lemon vinaigrette.
Niec said some of the most popular sandwiches, which range in price from $5 to $9, include the smoked salmon that’s served with goat cheese, tomato, red onion, capers, dill, ground black pepper, greens; the Italian loaded with salami, mortadella, capicola, provolone, greens, tomato, red onion, banana peppers and Duke’s Mayo; or the Italian Caprese topped with fresh mozzarella, tomato, basil, pesto, olive oil and a drizzle of balsamic.
There’s also choices like egg salad, reuben, pimento cheese, roast beef and cheddar melt and about a half-dozen more selections.
The old space had just three patio tables, but now there are at least seven. Inside, there is a 10-person bar and a few more tables to sit and relax in the casual environment.
There are also the specials.
Wednesday nights are half-priced draft beer evenings with any of the eight selections.
On Thursdays, there are wine tastings from 5 to 7 p.m. They cost $10 and Niec and his staff will choose an ever-rotating group of four bottles from a certain winery and region to be sampled. If guests buy a bottle of the four selections, the $10 fee is waived.
The atmosphere is relaxed, the vibe is calm, the prices are right and the quality is outstanding.
It’s all done on purpose. Niec got to watch as downtown Waxhaw grew from a sleepy town to a thriving area with restaurants, shops and people out having a good time.
“It was neat to watch it boom,” he said. “I took that place away from Southsiders as soon as they closed down. I was having brunch across the street and when the “for lease” sign went up and I walked over and said, ‘You can take the sign down because I’m going to take that spot.’
“I loved it there. My old partner and I are still great friends, but now it’s time for me to focus just on this and put everything into it.”
Niec hopes to be in Matthews for another 10 years as it continues with the same type of changes he witnessed in Waxhaw.
And he’s very happy to be a part of it.
“I started here in 2010 and there was nothing down here,” he said. “There has been a lot of change. I’ve seen all of this come in and it’s nice to see it grow. This feels more like home to me. I used to live in Matthews, but I live closer to Waxhaw now but this is where my heart is. This is where I want to be.”