Learn the history of Merino Mill in Mooresville, NC

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Where can you find years of history, antique shops and pizzas made with fresh, imported buffalo mozzarella? Merino mill.

The Mooresville building housed the original Moor Turkish Towel Company mill. Although the factory closed in 1999, the building remained and had to be demolished, as it had become a handicap. Then, the contractor Michal Bay gave a second life to the building. Today, Merino Mill has been transformed into a thriving center for shopping, business, food and community, while preserving the building’s history.

“It was the only mill in America where you would get cotton delivered and it would go out as a finished product,” Bay said. “It’s like a second or third life for this type of building. Unfortunately, people didn’t like it much before, but now they are starting to appreciate American heritage buildings. It is a wonderful thing for the community and the city.

When Bay’s real estate agent first approached him about the opportunity, he warned him that it was a nice building but a big mess.

“It was true it was a big mess, but I would have preferred not to have a roof than to have a roof,” Bay said. “The guy in charge of (the restoration) counted 248 points where the roof was leaking, then gave up. So he was in bad shape. But the bones of the building and the walls were really strong.

Bay, originally from Mesopotamia, understands the importance of preserving history. Almost the whole building is original, up to the floors. Instead of painting on the walls, Bay chose to pressure wash them and let the original paint show through.

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Entrepreneur Michal Bay owns Merino Mill in Mooresville. Alex Cason Photography Charlotte five

“I cleaned it up but kept everything original,” Bay said. “So now we have something beautiful for the community. “

From factory to pleasure

Merino Mill measures approximately 1.1 million square feet and Bay has developed approximately 820,000 square feet in several buildings to date. As such, Bay received the 2017 Great Places Award from the North Carolina Chapter of the American Planning Association for his work in reclamation of the plant. The plant even has the largest rooftop solar panel in North Carolina, and it’s working closely with Boomerang Water – a local small-batch bottling company – to replace single-use plastic water bottles. throughout the facility to avoid shipping and waste.

Bay said about 110,000 people visit the plant per month and that he has met people who have traveled from Virginia and even Ohio.

“It really has become a destination. Everyone is excited. Everyone is happy, ”he said.

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Mooresville’s Merino Mill offers event space, as well as restaurants and retail outlets. Alex Cason Photography Charlotte five

Bay first opened the mill cabinet, then the Main Street Antiques and Design Gallery. Soon he started to think about adding places to eat for hungry shoppers. He offered 11 of his friends the option of opening a pizzeria or hamburger within Merino Mill, but all refused.

So Bay went to Italy to learn how to make pizzas on his own. He returned to the United States with knowledge and supplies – he even bought special ovens and began donating food to the health department, firefighters, and health facilities to practice the trade.

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Fresh buffalo mozzarella from Aliño Pizzeria’s Margherita pizza is shipped weekly from Italy. Alex Cason Photography Charlotte five

When Alino Pizzeria finally open, there was already a queue outside, and the spot has since enjoyed a strong clientele. The pizzeria uses fresh buffalo mozzarella from Italy, and everything is made from scratch in-house.

“We didn’t know how to trim because we’re not restaurateurs,” he said.

Today, seven of the 11 friends who opened the pizzeria for the first time are currently working at Alino.

To build on the pizza place’s success, Bay researched other types of restaurants that are working well in the United States and continued to open. The Barcelona Burger and the Beer Garden, home to North Carolina’s best cheeseburger. Coffee defined, a state-of-the-art espresso bar and coffee roaster, will soon open its second North Carolina location at Merino Mill. And Bay exclusively told CharlotteFive that he plans to open a taqueria next to the antique store, which he says will open before Christmas.

“It will be offering tacos in a 100% open kitchen, so visitors can see how we prepare everything, which will be prepared fresh daily. “

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The Barcelona Burger and Beer Garden at Merino Mill has indoor and outdoor seating. Alex Cason Photography Charlotte five

Bay compares the revitalization of the mill to the movie “Chocolate”.

“This lady and her daughter are going to this small village in France, and everyone is hesitating. They do not speak to them, and after the opening of the chocolate factory, everything changes. When we arrived (at the mill), there was a small chain-link fence around the building. No green trees or anything. And it was a cold feeling – no one would walk around, ”Bay said. “Now you see people doing yoga and having picnics. It’s a whole different feeling over the past 11 years. So much has changed. There is a story and some great stories behind it. Now I’m just a small part of it.

Merino mill

Location: 500 S. Main St., Mooresville, NC 28115

Instagram: @merinomill


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Jessica is a writer nourished by coffee, cookies, and long walks in the Magic Kingdom. She is often found exploring the food scene (mostly pasta) and traveling. Follow her on Twitter and Instagram @jessicaswannie.



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