Epicurean Charlotte

Food & Wine Magazine


Charlotte’s Best Beer Gardens


by Bryan Richards
images courtesy Craft Tasting Room and Growler Shop, NoDa Brewing, Olde Mecklenburg Brewery, VBGB Beer Hall and Garden

My wife and I landed in Munich after a flight that was more eventful than it should have been. All we wanted to do was check in to our hotel for a shower and a nap. However, as is the case with most transatlantic flights, our room wasn’t ready. More than a little defeated, we did as most tourists in Munich do: we found the nearest beer garden for a liter of fresh keller lager and a juicy bratwurst to right our wrongs.

The chestnut shaded community spaces became a staple in our daily itineraries. Each day, we’d wake and start exploring the Bavarian capital. Around lunch time, we’d break for an hour or two in the nearest beer garden, sampling their frothy beverages and gorging on wiener schnitzel or currywurst. We came home lamenting the fact that nothing similar existed in Charlotte. Of course, this was 10 years ago, when craft beer was a forethought. Today, beer gardens have popped up throughout the city, and following are some of our favorites.

The Authentic
No article on Charlotte beer gardens is worth its hops without including Olde Mecklenburg Brewery. Not only is OMB the brewery to kick-start Charlotte’s now exploding craft beer scene, they’re also the most authentic in terms of German beer gardens.

Shaded under a canopy of oak, pecan, and hickory trees is over two acres of beer garden heaven ripped out of a travel article on Munich. Shared picnic tables seat around 1,000 thirsty beer patrons, beer huts keep steins full of German-style lagers, and a stationary food truck serves up bratwursts, kielbasas, burgers, and Bavarian pretzels with beer cheese. Beyond the picnic tables, there’s plenty of green space for kids and dogs to play, rounding out the parklike atmosphere that completes the German beer garden experience.

On any given weekend afternoon, you’ll find customers playing friendly matches of cornhole, live music entertaining crowds, and beer fans sipping frosty mugs of refreshing Capt. Jack Pilsner. It’s the perfect spot to waste away an afternoon. If that afternoon happens to bleed into the evening, then cozy up to one of the fire pits.

The Neighborhood Favorite
Whereas as OMB’s beer garden is the largest on this list, Craft Tasting Room and Growler Shop is the smallest. Just 12 picnic tables complete the neighborhood beer shop’s quaint, gravel filled space. Don’t let the size scare you away, though. Like most German beer gardens, Craft Tasting Room is a neighborhood watering hole. On sunny afternoons, a wall of hops plants and overhead canopies shade neighborhood residents while they enjoy a pint of their favorite local brew. In the evenings, string lights create that picture-perfect atmosphere.

Craft Tasting Room offers 36 taps pouring craft beer. A good 80 percent of those taps are North Carolina breweries. Non-beer drinkers can enjoy a small selection of ciders or wine by the bottle. Craft Tasting Room pairs their beer menu with Instagram-worthy charcuterie plates and creative yet filling flatbreads.

Check out Craft Tasting Room on Friday nights for movies under the stars. Order a summer seasonal beer, fill up on a prosciutto flatbread with marinara, fresh mozzarella, and pickled chilies, and wax ecstatic about drive-in movie theaters of yesteryear.

The Gamer
Giant sized versions of Jenga, Connect Four, and chess are just a few of the games that make VBGB Beer Hall and Garden the patio for fun-loving gamers in Charlotte. There’s also cornhole and—if you’re feeling adventurous enough—over three million pounds of sand for beach volleyball excitement.

When you need a break from the fun, grab a seat at one of the many shared tables to catch up with friends or make new friends with your neighbors. Stay hydrated with one of 30 craft beers on draft. VBGB’s state-of-the-art tap system guarantees beer pours at that magic number of 32 degrees for the proper refreshment. The popular beer garden also has a full bar for those who prefer a margarita for their day-drinking.

Not only is VBGB’s one of the most thrilling beer gardens in Charlotte, it’s also a great spot to catch a beer and dinner before a show at the Charlotte Metro Credit Union Amphitheatre. Insider tip: while the Zweigle Brats always hit the spot, do yourself a favor and try the beer cheese nachos or char-grilled chicken wings with sweet and spicy Wango Tango sauce.

The Playground
If you could roll the best of the above into one, you’d have NoDa Brewing’s beer garden. What NoDa’s original brewery lacked in outdoor space, the brewery more than made up for in their new location off North Tryon Street. Located behind the brewery is a large beer garden neatly divided into areas with shared picnic tables and green space with games for kids of all ages. In the peak of summer, canopies are erected over the tables to ward off the blistering Carolina sunshine. My favorite spot is at night seated on one of the Adirondack chairs that circle the firepits.

The real selling point is the games. Beyond your requisite cornhole boards, NoDa’s beer garden boasts a bocce ball court, disc golf, and both hula hoops and jump ropes to keep the little ones from interfering with adult cornhole games. All that fun can work up a serious appetite, so Tin Kitchen has a permanent food truck onsite cooking a mix of Latin influenced modern pub fare.

Just like the beer garden offers something for everyone in terms of aversions, so does the brewery in terms of beer. While the brewery’s claim to fame is the Great American Beer Festival gold medal winning Hop, Drop ‘N Roll monster of an IPA, NoDa brews plenty of other beers to please everyone’s palate. Their 25 taps run the gamut of style and tastes.

The Epicurean
New to Charlotte’s summer beer scene is Rivermen Brewing in Belmont. The recently reopened location is more than just a brewery, pouring classic America beers like blondes, porters, and IPAs. The brewery also houses a farm-to-table restaurant that can rival anything in Charlotte. The menu changes regularly based on what’s locally available. Think dishes like pork jowl tacos, roasted rabbit tagliatelle, and wild mushroom ramen.

The beer garden is admittedly more of a patio off the back of the refurbished 1940s mill than a beer garden. However, it’s one of the hottest pieces of outdoor seating real estate in Belmont. The space seats 80 and enjoys shade from the hot Carolina sun from the towering building. Gather up the family, order a Foundation Black IPA to sip on and a 3 Little Pigs Flatbread (pork marmalade, pork brisket, and chicharones) to share, and enjoy an evening of al fresco dining.

With so many breweries and beer gardens in Charlotte, it’s a good time to be living in the Buzz City!

Cork & Crate: The Wine Shop Plaza Midwood Has Been Waiting for

by Brianna Melanson
images by Bobby Mack of Mack Photography

Christopher and Lakendra Walker’s mission is to give Charlotte a rare wine experience through their new business Cork & Crate. Located on Central Avenue, this cozy wine shop and tasting room is unlike any other in the area.

Partners in both business and marriage for 12 years, the wine shop is not their first career collaboration. Chris is an attorney and Kendra is a paralegal. When they aren’t at the wine shop, they’re still practicing law, training their new puppy, and parenting in addition to homeschooling their 9-year-old daughter. It’s impressive how they juggle everything so gracefully. Since they spend almost every waking hour together, Kendra would wind down with a glass of wine. That’s why they tell their customers that wine “saved” their marriage.

Kendra started to go to wine tastings, and eventually Chris would go with her for a romantic night out. It was during those magical moments they realized wine’s positive impact on their life. They embraced the wine industry, tasting wines from all over the world. They were especially inspired by the intimate wine shops where the owners would take their time to personally talk with the couple about their selections.

Chris says the two knew that a wine shop would be a great addition to their lifestyle on a trip to Atlanta in April of 2017. It all fell into place fast, and it is precisely what they envisioned. They already had a realtor who knew what they were looking for, and in 30 days, they signed the lease with the landlord of the space.

Cork & Crate opened to the public in September 2017, and they have really assimilated into Plaza Midwood’s unique culture. In less than a year, they’ve gained a hefty following and have been building a newfound relationship with Charlotteans. Chris and Kendra love being able to interact with everyone and teaching them beneficial information about wine. Kendra points out that Cork & Crate is the epitome of the phrase, “Good people, good times, good wine.”

No matter what the price, from $13 to over $200, the Walkers have a wine perfect for you. Even if your budget is small, you’ll wind up bringing home a bottle that tastes expensive. Not every occasion is as special as a 15 year wedding anniversary, for instance.

Those who love to indulge in wine aren’t always wine experts. Even if you do have something specific in mind, Chris and Kendra may have another suggestion that you may have not thought to try before. Going into your typical wine store can be intimidating, and the staff at a grocery store may not be well-versed in wine. Here, you can get away from the fluorescent lights and enjoy a pleasant buying experience.

The friendly folks at Cork & Crate want to take all of the stress of wine purchasing off your shoulders. If you have no idea what to buy, they are confident that you’ll end up with an exceptional bottle that you’ll never second guess. The Rudd Samantha’s Cabernet Sauvignon 2013 Oakville Collection is one of the couple’s favorites for when they decide to have a very elegant date night or are celebrating something nice.

Pamplune is a French grapefruit and peach Rosé that is currently in New York City’s top 10 wines. Kendra recommends it for a sweet date or a girl’s night. All your friends at the table will be able to smell the delicious fragrance as it’s poured.

Chris says, “It makes me happy when someone takes their first sip and confirms it’s good. And I know they’re not just being polite, because they’ll buy a second bottle.” They love hearing your feedback, so be sure to come back and tell them how your friend or significant other enjoyed the wine. The Walkers genuinely want your time there to be positive before you go off to your destination.

Special wine tastings are held on Fridays for $8 to $15 depending on the varietals. Each week’s tasting includes five wines of a similar variety, like red blends or Merlots.

This summer, they’re excited to bring back the Rosé tasting. They also have a tasting called “Oysters & Bubbles,” where they’ll serve oysters (included in the price) paired with Prosecco, Cava, Champagne, or Mimosas.

During each tasting, Chris walks you through the wines, explaining each one and the story behind it. His profound sense of humor makes it an unforgettable experience, and you’re bound to make new friends and even see some familiar faces.

During the tasting, you’re encouraged to offer your feedback by giving each wine a one to five star rating and a review, like if you found a particular wine to be too dry or just the right amount of oak. Chris and Kendra take these reviews into consideration when they go to restock their shelves.

Kendra notes that through these tastings, they’ve been able to discern the distinguishable palate of the Plaza Midwood neighborhood. Currently, the neighborhood’s favorite found from their shelves is The Federalist’s Zinfandel 2014.

Cork & Crate has hosted birthday parties, book clubs, ugly sweater parties, and more in their secluded back room, accommodating up to 40 people. Many people in the neighborhood are able to walk to the shop, but there’s also parking in front as well as at Nick’s Auto. For bigger events, they conveniently offer valet parking. The shop provides the wine in a signature Cork & Crate wine glass based on the number of people to be served. You can add charcuterie or other catering for a more filling menu. The Walkers will set up everything in the room for you from the food to the décor, so you’ll have nothing to worry about when it comes time for your special event. To really get the party started, belt out your favorite songs with their karaoke machine!

The back room is open to the public as long as there aren’t any events booked—it’s where most of the Walkers’ favorite memories in the shop have been made.

While the shop is open late—until 11 p.m.—the Walkers have made such strong connections with people around their elegant wooden table, that they’ve often been invited into their homes after closing to continue conversations. The fact that people feel they can open up to them and feel so comfortable at the wine shop has been extremely rewarding to them.

It’s a comfortable, casual environment, complete with a fireplace and beautiful paintings of Italy. Locals come in with their laptops to work while sipping on a glass of wine, which they offer by the glass. This year, you can look forward to more wines by the glass and a wine machine. Plus, now that they have a space to sell wine, the Walkers plan to travel to Europe to gather and bring back more ideas of premier wines to continue expanding their inventory.

You’ll also want to keep an eye out for their very own food truck coming soon. Since the shop doesn’t have room for a kitchen (and Charlotteans can’t seem to get enough of food trucks), they’re creating their very own, and it’ll be parked in front of the shop. The Walkers don’t mean to brag but, they also excel in culinary arts. They’re thrilled to share their dishes, which will pair well with any of their wines. There’ll be a staple dish in addition to meals that will change from week to week. What can’t the Walkers do? They also plan to feature other local chefs to show off their food.

Cork & Crate supports local as much as possible. All of their fresh flowers come from the beloved Midwood Flower Shop. Scott Reading, a Plaza Midwood resident for 20 years, made the backdrop with their logo as a gift. Now, customers take pictures in front of it for Instagram. Local artist Lee Halliburton designed the logo, and local artist Sarah Dowell painted the countries on the crates on top of their shelves. Plaza Midwood continues to exceed their expectations and is now on their radar for a new place to live because of all the wonderful people they’ve encountered along the way.

Chris and Lakendra Walker are grateful for Charlotte’s prolific support and kindness. They are dedicated to making everyone feel satisfied with both their experience and wine purchase. Let’s raise a glass to the Walkers for being such a wonderful addition to Plaza Midwood.

Charlotte Gets Social

by Yvonne Ackerman
images courtesy Kyo H. Nam

If you ask any Charlotte native just how far our city has come in recent years in terms of dining and recreation, they’ll tell you without hesitation that Uptown has evolved substantially from what it used to be—that is, a ghost town outside of the hours of 9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. Now, we have a rapidly growing dining scene bolstered by the proliferation of high-rise apartment buildings and hotels.

However, anyone who frequents Uptown after dark knows there’s still a need for something more in order to put us in true competition with larger cities. Charlotteans can rejoice in the New Year, though, as we now have the perfect player to capture our city’s enthusiasm and desire for innovation in our city’s nightlife. Enter: QC Social.

QC Social is, at its essence, an “enthusiast’s lounge,” describes General Manager Morgan Leitert. Every moment of a guest’s experience at QC Social is curated and finely tailored, from the drinks to the culinary selections. At once a bar, lounge, and venue, QC Social draws on collaboration from its creative team, staff, patrons, and our city’s local talent to ensure each visit offers a snapshot of the Queen City at its very best.

This ethos is evident everywhere from the innovative cocktail menu to the vision for the lounge’s place in the community. QC Social will feature local artists and artisans everywhere—from their menu and talented bar staff to their walls and stage area, where they will host artists, musicians, and performers.

“We want to highlight people’s talents and what they can bring to the table,” says Bar Director Jade Finn. The feel of the lounge is, above all, intimate (think: cozy lounge seating), but the vibe can change from night to night, depending on whether QC Social is hosting live music or showcasing a local artist.

Charlotte’s storied history will also take center stage, from the design of the building to the cocktail menu. In the building process, QC Social worked to preserve the history of their space rather than tearing it all down and starting fresh. The team sought out local metalworkers and woodworkers to enhance the original exposed brick and wood in the open and airy lounge.

Celebrating Charlotte’s past is central to QC Social, and this philosophy is realized most fully in their graphically-designed libations and elixirs menu. Going far beyond a simple description of their cocktails, Finn crafted a vision for a menu that is at once an illustrated history of Charlotte and an inspired list of libations whose creativity and style goes well beyond what we have seen from any cocktail menu in the Queen City.

Part cocktail menu and part graphic novel, the list of drinks is sorted into sections, each inspired by a piece of our city’s history. The opening part of the innovative menu describes Charlotte’s founding days and is titled after our city’s most famous (and infamous) descriptor by General Cornwallis of our city as a “hornet’s nest of rebellion.” The cocktails in this section draw from a well-curated spirits list and are inspired by Charlotte’s fiery beginnings, like the Yeoman’s Uprising and the Whistle-Belly Vengeance. Finn describes this section of the menu as drinks you would find “in a tavern in colonial North Carolina, but with a modern twist.”

Although just that amount of originality would be enough to impress, the cocktails are even more than their clever names and adherence to the local theme—they take the art of mixology to a new level.

For example, rather than using only egg whites, the Yeoman’s Uprising incorporates a whole egg, and all of its ingredients are shaken with whiskey barrel-aged wood chips, which imparts a woodsy, smoky flavor profile to the finished product. Cocktailers create their own shrubs, cordials, and barrel-aged spirits for all of the 32 cocktails spread across four menus. The themes of the other menus relate to the ascendancy of Charlotte as a banking empire and celebrate our city’s diversity with globally-inspired cocktails.

Each cocktail is made using an advanced ice system—purified water is used to create hand-cut ice cubes for each drink. QC Social’s attention to each detail, right down to the ice, ensures that each cocktail’s flavor profile is well-balanced. Sometimes, the ice even is used to enhance the flavor of the drink, like in the Uptown Cavalier, which uses a hopped grapefruit bitters-flavored ice cube to add both flavor and chill. Another cocktail, the Mecklenburg Farmer #4, uses hand-shaved ice flavored with sage, cucumber, and Aviation gin.

Beyond cocktails, QC Social serves a variety of wines and beers. The tap beer menu is “regional and rotational” says Leitert, and the bottle menu is also regional, unique, and includes Belgian and Trappist beers. The feel of the menu is “curated and not overwhelming,” says Leitert. The wine selection is focused on small Italian producers and unique varietals. QC Social is passionate about highlighting smaller producers on all of their menus, and there are plans to host tastings to introduce the Charlotte community to their selection of wine and beer.

The shareable plates menu will adhere to the finely curated feel of the beverage menus as well. Food options are small plates with a focus on local and seasonal items, many of them plant-based.

Leitert and Current Culinary Olympic Team member Master Chef Jason Hall developed the menu to incorporate items from local growers and producers. Their charcuterie plate will feature cheeses from their neighbors at Orrman’s Cheese Shop, and their produce will come from local farms.

Look for inventive shareable plates like a polenta and white bean tart, or a beet and apple mille feuille. The menu items will surprise even those already familiar with the North Carolina farm scene, like a vegan cheesecake made with (wait for it) North Carolina passion fruit (when in season). Their signature dessert is also plant-based and pure decadence: a chocolate chestnut tart with shortbread crust. QC Social’s small plates menu has an attention to detail and excellence writ large in the experience of the lounge as a whole.

With their grand opening at the end of January, QC Social is breathing new life into Uptown Charlotte, and its creative and management team believes in the Charlotte community. “We feel strongly about promoting our scene and talent here,” says Finn. He recognizes that many people from larger markets are moving to Charlotte, and they arrive and want that same dining scene to which they are accustomed. People are ready for creative food and drink options, and they don’t want to be limited in their choices. “It’s a good time to be in Charlotte,” says Finn, “and we want to be a part of that movement.”

QC Social is ushering in a new era with their social lounge concept by providing a place for patrons to enjoy great drinks, small plates, and music in a relaxed atmosphere. Gone are the days when Charlotteans have to venture out of town for an experience that is a cut above—QC Social provides something for everyone. Each evening at QC Social, the team will go out of their way to ensure guests have an experience that is at once unique and focused on excellence, and that philosophy is ultimately what will put Charlotte on the map as a destination city.

The Christkindlmarkt: Charlotte's Christmas Village

by Brianna Melanson • images courtesy Carol Hambridge, Nicole Jenkins

The tradition of a Christkindlmarkt, or open winter market, began in 1310 Munich, Germany. Decorated wooden booths would take over the village’s town square to celebrate the Christmas season by selling homemade crafts and glühwein. Glühwein is the mulled red wine of Germany, literally meaning “glow wine,” as the hot irons would be glowing as they mulled. It’s not a Christmas drink without spices such as cinnamon, clove, and star anise. Sometimes vanilla and citrus are also included in the recipe. The community would stroll around the market with their warm glühwein in a commemorative mug while they shopped and watched talented performers. This marvelous tradition is still strong today and has since moved to the United States and now our beloved city.

Thanksgiving day begins the second year of the Charlotte Christmas Village, or Christkindlmarkt. Romare Bearden Park will once again transform into a German Christmas market featuring glühwein, German food favorites, gifts, a Christmas tree lot, and entertainers. Opening day will kick off with Charlotte Ballet’s Nutcracker dancers.

County Commissioner Matthew Ridenhour says, “Last year’s Christmas Village was a wonderful event, and this year is shaping up to be even bigger and better with more vendors, a new village design, and the return of exciting community partners. My family and I can’t wait to go!”

Paul Claus and Dena Bruton-Claus (Claus in a German pronunciation) have been preparing for this magical event all year, and they are rightly proud of it. That’s right, Mr. and Mrs. Claus created Charlotte’s first ever Christmas Village.

Paul and Dena are event planners from Texas and have been in Charlotte for 10 years. They were previously volunteers at the largest free art and music festival in the southwest, and Dena was a member of the festival’s board for 11 years. Some of their fondest memories come from outdoor festivals, which were a big part of their kids’ childhood.

When their daughter went off to school in Philadelphia a few years ago, the Claus’ witnessed the Philadelphia Christmas Market being set up, which is one of the largest in the United States next to Chicago and Baltimore. They were immediately inspired by their thorough and extravagant village and thought that’s exactly what Charlotte needed. With Charlotte’s diversity and rich German heritage, a Charlotte Christkindlmarkt seemed like a natural fit, so they began working to make it official. They succeeded.

The vibrant Christmas Villages are found all over Germany in December. As some of you may recall, some of last year’s customers were disappointed that there were no traditional wooden huts as advertised. Well, Dena and Paul were already in the process of building those huts when they found out that due to the city and county fire regulations, they would not be able to use the huts and had to resort to white tents. Remember that it was their first year. Despite the controversy, the Village brought in more than 7,500 visitors last year, and they expect this year’s numbers to jump to 120,000. The majority of their vendors are returning from last year because they enjoyed it so much. This year’s patrons will see many great changes based on what the Claus’s learned from last year, and they even became a nonprofit. We hear some other excellent plans are in the works, too. Did someone say Christmas brunch?

Dena made another great point. The disappointment meant people were delighted that Charlotte was finally going to have a German Village for which people wouldn’t have to fly across the States or the Atlantic. The Claus’ want to make their visions come to life and have an authentic atmosphere, but it will take some time.

Though this year will not bring wooden huts, the Claus’ won’t give up on finding an alternative material to satisfy the code enforcements. But you better not pout, because I’m telling you why. With the twinkling lights and decorations, and the gorgeous Uptown backdrop, the Village will be unlike any other Christmas celebration in Charlotte.

It’s also conveniently located, especially if you live in an Uptown apartment and want a real Christmas tree. Plus, it’s free thanks to their wonderful sponsors and partners, which include Charlotte Center City Partners and Mecklenburg County Parks and Recreation. And you won’t find a more delicious glühwein.

If you don’t get a mug of the glühwein, you won’t get the full Christmas Village experience. Last year, Dena and Paul invited German nationals to taste different recipes of glühwein in order to decide which one was the best and most genuine for the Village. Dover Vineyards of Concord generously recreated their favorite and will be selling a variety of their wines as well as the specially-made glühwein again this year. All glühwein will be served in a souvenir Charlotte Christmas Village mug. Two other familiar vendors will be providing alcoholic beverages to get you feeling holly jolly. Red Clay Ciderworks’ Co-Founder, Deanna Bradish, says they will again serve, “‘Wool Socks,’ a warm or cold winter spiced cider, to add to the festive alcohol choices. Since it helps warm from the insides, our customers call it Christmas in a cup.” Finally, Blue Blaze Brewery will be serving their German-inspired craft beers, such as the Blue Blaze Altbier and the Yellow Blazer Kölsch. Dena and Paul are grateful to work with these local businesses who continue to outdo their holiday spirit.

Carolers, accordion players, dancers, and other musicians will fill the area with holiday music as you shop. If the weather gets chilly, the hospitality tent will be heated and filled with other live music so you can relax with your loved ones and devour some of the scrumptious food. Kids can bundle up there with hot chocolate or other non-alcoholic beverages after meeting Santa Claus on the weekends or participating in arts and crafts.

Get your Christmas sweets, such as roasted nuts, Lebkuchen (gingerbread), almond shortbread, and macaroons from the German bakeries. If you’re in the mood for something savory, popular upscale steakhouse 5Church will be making the bratwurst, or German sausage, sauerkraut, and a mean German potato salad. The village only accepts high quality food choices and products.

“To qualify for the Christmas Market here, you have to be either hand crafted or directly imported from the country of origin,” says Dena. If you need original gift ideas, look no further. Vendors will be selling hand-painted ornaments, nesting dolls from Russia, homemade figurines and toys, and more. Pet Wants will have all natural treats to fill your pet’s stocking and maybe one for your dog being good walking around the Village. A Nepalese woman sells beautiful alpaca wool gloves, scarves, and sweaters—everything is unique and made with love.

Once the sun sets, the Village becomes less busy and more romantic. The evening will feel like a separate event. Go with your friends during the day and then your significant other at night. You’ll be surrounded by dazzling lights, soft music, and a sugary aroma. Your glühwein will warm one hand, and your loved one’s hand will hold the other. It’s a dreamy place to make and capture everlasting memories. The Christmas Village will be open as late as 9 p.m.

Santa’s helpers will close the Charlotte Christmas Village on Christmas Eve. Mr. and Mrs. Claus will then get ready for the 2018 Christmas Village starting as soon as January. This is the beginning of what will someday be as big as Chicago’s Christmas Village. So come out this holiday season to Romare Bearden Park, grab your glühwein, and become a part of the cherished tradition.