By Timothy G. Beeman II
Fans of Silo needn’t worry. While things will change, they will only change for the better. Not that things weren’t already good. Chris Barnes, the establishment’s owner until now, did a first-rate service to Reynolda Village by bringing the bistro aspect in and they gathered a lot of frequent clients from it. Will said he wants to expand on that concept.
“A lot of locals love what is on the menu and they do a great job and have an amazing kitchen staff and front of house staff, too. We’re going to add staff so we have better service and (be) faster in the kitchen. More ideas for menu items and daily specials, and have more ingredients for the chefs to play with,” Kingery said.
I asked Will if he planned to keep true to the menu that Silo has been known for. “Oh yeah, we’re gonna have fun paninis. Simple stuff like turkey and havarti sandwiches, french dips, etc.” Something I didn’t know (because I’m not a chef, I just play one in my kitchen, sometimes), there is no hood system in the kitchen. Will continues, “the challenge is there’s no hoods. So, there’s no stoves, no grills. Everything that’s created there is created in a small convection oven and a panini press. So you have to be innovative and creative to pump food out of there and the chefs that have been there have done a great job of it.”
Service has been a point of contention from those Will has asked about Silo. He went on, “It does have a good following and in talking to customers around town: they love the location and the idea of it, their biggest frustration is the service. They feel like there could have been a couple more servers on and the food could get out to them a little quicker. That’s two of the big things we’re going to focus on. Just constantly being better than yesterday.”
When I asked Will how the whole deal came about, he said that Barnes was ready to get out of the restaurant business and Reynolda Village approached them about taking over the space. They negotiated a good price, Barnes agreed and Will and Cooper then took over the space. Reynolda Village has plans for the entire area to be more creative. In fact, Cooper is opening a beta salon in the old Ringmasters. Will also said that Wake Forest University, owner of the Reynolda Village and Reynolda House Art Museum, has allotted funds for renovation ideas and infrastructure for the area in the future.
Another “coming soon” feature is the opening of a full bar, a complete ABC license. The interview that I conducted with Will was, indeed, on the phone whilst he and Cooper were on their way back from Raleigh, securing the license. “We have the ability to sell everything,” he said.
Confirming that Corks and Taps is not part of Silo, Will did say this: “We may look into it in the future, but with us putting a full bar in Silo, we’re going to concentrate on that and our other two businesses and we’re going to make sure that everyone is solid and taken care of. If there is a need for another bar, if the demand is there, we’ll definitely explore that option.”
Prepackaged food will be one of the things that is available. Grab-and-go type items like sandwiches and sides are going to be a benefit for both the hurried and rushing customers or those who just want to lounge around the grounds. “If you want to hop in and get a cold wrap real quick, a simple turkey wrap, some chips or a cup of fruit, it’s already ready, you don’t have to wait on the kitchen. Have a bottle of wine with a couple of glasses and go out into Reynolda Village and have a little picnic. Return your glasses please,” he says with a chuckle.
On the Willow’s and King’s Crab Shack front, they have a little shuffling of chefs. “I moved some chefs around. My old chef at Willow’s stepped down to take care of his family more and one of my other chefs, Jamie Cline (Klein?), former executive chef of Sapona Country Club and Lexington Country Club, stepped up. I took my sous chef from Willow’s and put him in at King’s Crab Shack because they needed a strong leader and were doing good numbers. We felt that was a good move. King’s quality and service and speed will be stepped up as well, now.”
Will knows the keys to his success and he tells me why, outright. “The key is good people. I’m only a tiny part of it. It’s the chefs, the waitresses, the hostesses… the dishwashers. Dishwashers are the key to the restaurant. It sounds insane but if you work or own a restaurant and the dishwasher walks out, you have a whole new respect for them.”
Will gets his people and Winston-Salem gets Will and Norb Cooper. They get their expertise. They get benefit of fantastic food and fantastic eateries. I have a feeling we’re seeing more and more of the iceberg emerge, not just the tip. Silo Deli, Wine & Cheese is located at 114 D Reynolda Village, Winston-Salem. (336) 608-4359.