On the Back Porch of NoDa

Husbands Scott Lindsley (left) and Joey Hewell (right) are serial entrepreneurs and local influencers, so there’s any number of places from where you might know them.

Scott is a Charlotte native and a top Queen City realtor, having founded a property appraisal firm and helped establish a couple of successful realty companies. He now works as an independent realtor in the neighborhood (www.januscharlotte.com).

For a little over a decade, Joey ran chic hair salon, J. Studio, designed avant-garde clothing, and produced fashion shows locally. In 2011, with Scott at the helm as editor and Joey as Fashion Director, the couple (with other partners) started the lifestyle magazine SEEN Uptown, one of several publication projects Scott has been involved with over the years. You might also remember Joey from TV, he was a regular segment contributor on WCCB programs from 2007 to 2018.

NoDa has long been dear to the couple. Joey, transplanted from Georgia, found his first Charlotte friends hanging out at Fat City, and much of the pair’s early courtship happened in the neighborhood during the Gallery Crawl Years. However, the opportunity to relocate from South End didn’t present itself until the Great Recession. In 2012, realtor Scott showed the historic home at 704 East 36th Street to a holistic doctor looking for a place he could live and from which he could also potentially operate a medical practice. The home was in foreclosure, and the zoning was appropriate for business. When the physician definitively passed on the property, Scott called Joey. “We fell in love with it immediately,” says Hewell.

Large sections of their new back yard were paved in concrete, likely envisioned as an office’s parking lot. Instead, Joey and Scott saw a massive garden—eleven raised vegetable beds, edible landscaping, and eventually two beehives. They just called it “the garden,” but their little urban farm began to attract attention, and soon it was dubbed “Linwell Farms,” as in [Lin]dsley and He[well]. Get it? Known for its dinner parties, the spot was even featured on PBS’s The Victory Garden. It wasn’t their first garden, but it was the biggest.

After some initial conversations with a retiring grower, Joey and Scott began eyeing the empty lot across from their home and decided to bring a farmers’ market to NoDa. Joey decided he no longer wanted to be a stylist and was considering what he wanted to do next. “It was ideal timing. It was a really fun project,” says Scott. The NoDa Farmers’ Market, open Saturdays spring-to-fall, is now run by Jason Baker and located at Canvas Tattoo on North Davidson Street (@canvastattooandartgallery).

The Linwells weren’t looking for a new project—not at all. But then one fall morning in 2015, after getting their regular morning coffee at Smelly Cat, they noticed an “Available” sign on the building behind the coffee shop—the former studio of sculptor and artist James Clark. The couple walked around the structure with their coffee trying to figure out what sort of place it had the potential to be. The pair worked out a concept that, because of all its many unique pieces, became hard to articulate. They got the keys on December 3rd and worked until March 4th getting The NoDa Company Store ready.

If you haven’t been, The NoDa Company Store (@nodacostore) is technically, well, a store, but it’s also a twelve-tap beer bar, wine shop, snack seller, and rotating art gallery that hosts food trucks, live music, art fairs, and cookouts, all with a Zen garden attached. Yeah, it is hard to describe. “We’re a neighborhood hangout,” Joey explains. “We jokingly called it ‘the back porch of NoDa,’ because we’re right behind the main strip. We designed it around THAT.”

The Linwells wanted the venue to be extremely laid back and designed a place where an individual would feel comfortable “hanging out for ten minutes or two hours” and where people would meet. Its many large tables are designed to facilitate patrons having conversations with strangers and sometimes people rove from table to table. “When we moved here, everyone was so welcoming to us. So, we wanted to create a place where people could be friendly and welcoming to new people,” says Joey.

The store’s proprietors don’t believe the concept would work without a neighborhood like NoDa. Joey explains, “It’s the neighborhood and the way people are open and diverse and able to be whoever they want to be. The neighborhood allows [The Company Store] to be a place where community can grow.” Scott finds the words to sum it up, “It evolved because of the neighborhood and from the neighborhood.”

Photo and article by Ryan Sumner, the creative director of Fenix Fotography, and specializes in artful portraiture of business and cultural leaders, corporate headshots, and other advertising images. He can photograph you and your coworkers at his portrait studio at the Colony in NoDa and is available for location work too. His fine-art work is available through his gallery at the Charlotte Art League.