The Man Who Ate the Town Podcast Episode 129

Mixed green salad topped with roasted red pepper, eggplant, hazelnut crusted goat cheese medallion.

In Episode #129 proudly recorded at The Lab at Industry Hill:

Tim and Ray talk about:

  • Tim got to be a tester for a wine dinner pairing happening at Carrabba’s later this month. Listen for more details.
  • King’s Classic Bakery is coming to Trade Street.
  • Five Loaves Catering opens an actual retail location on Coliseum.
  • Carrabba’s is teaming up with iGoPink/Breast Cancer Charities of America. Listen for more details.
  • Food holidays and history.

The Man Who Ate the Town Podcast Episode 128

West End Cafe will have its first-ever wine dinner featuring J. Lohr wines on October 27

In Episode #128 proudly recorded at The Lab at Industry Hill:

Tim and Ray talk about:

  • Tim went to The Big Sip Festival this weekend and reviews it.
  • The Hot Dog Tasting Trolley Tour happened.
  • Hops Burger Bar opens this weekend
  • Alex’s Cafe closes.
  • Dave Hillman to put Poke restaurant in Alex’s Cafe spot.
  • West End Cafe has its first-ever wine dinner on October 27. Call for reservations.
  • Carrabba’s is teaming up with iGoPink/Breast Cancer Charities of America. Listen for more details.
  • Food holidays and history.

Don’t forget our sponsors:

Carrabba’s Italian Grill Healthy, grilled meats, wood-fired pizzas, fresh ingredients, and phenomenal wine dinners. That’s just some of the offerings of Carrabba’s and Daniel Butner, the local proprietario, is salt of the earth and a pillar of good in the community. Go taste the goodness that is Carrabba’s and see why Tim and Ray are always talking it up!

Washington Perk & Provision Company. Better than a convenience store but not quite a grocery store, in the heart of Washington Park and Downtown WSNC.

The Humble Bee Shoppe is challenging your perception of scratch made and leaving you with an experience you couldn’t possibly forget! With inventive flavor combos and a sense of artistry, The Humble Bee Shoppe isn’t your average bakery.

The Man Who Ate the Town is part of The Less Desirables Network. Give it a listen on iTunes, Stitcher, Podcast Addict and TuneIn, basically anywhere you can listen to podcasts. Or you can listen here (at the bottom of the post).

Bon Appetit!

The Moment You’ve All Been Waiting For

In May, I announced that I was embarking on a quest for the “best burger in Winston-Salem.” I declared it the “Summer of Burgers” and said I was looking for my top 10 burgers in town and would formulate a list from there. My wife and my doctor both grimaced when I said I was going to do this and I had to make promises as to the practice.

So, let’s review. I could only have three burgers a week with some green/healthier things in between. Toward the end of the summer, I had to have a few more to get the ones in that I needed to get in. I went to places that my readers, listeners and friends recommended. I tried to get every recommendation in but I didn’t achieve that, either by lack of funds available or just timing. A few of the burgers on the tour was sponsored by said listeners, readers and friends.

So, before I go any further, I want to thank those who did sponsor burgers for me. Daniel Butner, owner of Carrabba’s and our sponsor on this blog and podcast sponsored the Blarney Burger at Finnigan’s Wake and the burger at King’s Crab Shack. “Street Team” member, Steven McDowall sponsored the Boone Doggies trip and Thunder Road Grill burger. Steven Gallo sponsored the Krankie’s burger. My pal Jeff Davids sponsored both the Small Batch “Morning After” burger and Zesto’s “Chubby Decker” burger. Jason Cobb and Yamas! Mediterranean Street Food donated $50 for gas on the “tour.” Brandon Cassidy of Food Freaks, Chef Travis Myers of Willows Bistro, Chef David Swing of Sir Winston, Chef Antwan Hairston of Mac & Nelli’s, and my friend Dawn McDaniel with Bad Daddy’s did sponsor their own burgers. None of the sponsorship consideration influenced the correlating establishment’s standing in this list. No advantage was given for me not having to pay for them. That being said, thank you all so very much for your help and consideration in this very fun and delicious project.

Now, let’s get to the “housekeeping” stuff. I didn’t get to everyone. I just couldn’t. There is a burger in almost every restaurant, it seems. In some, those are the focus and in others, it’s just a menu placeholder. I tried to get to the ones that people were the most adamant about. I think I got most of them but just couldn’t get to all of them.

To be on this list the burgers had to be on the menu or at least mostly available. Specialty “off-menu” items or things that were made just to “wow” me are much appreciated but I couldn’t count that here. The biggest of these was Chef Travis’ first entry at Willows. Had I accepted that burger, it would have probably been top 3, but it was made for me, special, and not available all the time. Chef Swing at Sir Winston had a “special” burger that couldn’t be counted, as well, but it was darn good. In all, I had 34 burgers from 30 restaurants.

I kept a “journal” of the burgers that I had. It was a spreadsheet that I kept track of the name of the establishment, the name of the burger (if applicable), the amount of seasoning, the “doneness,” the juiciness of the burger, the type of bun and my thoughts on the burger itself.

I thought about breaking it down into “diner burgers” and “gourmet burgers.” Some have said it would be unfair to put a diner burger against a gourmet burger. I don’t see that as the case. I think it’s more unfair to impose some kind of “affirmative action” on burgers. Categorization is more of a problem than letting the burgers stand on their own, in my opinion. And that brings me to what I see as an important aspect of this list. This is my list. It’s not meant as a “readers’ choice” or a popularity contest. I respect the lists made in local publications but I feel it is just a popularity contest more than a true top list. I can’t compete with those lists and I don’t want to. I did take recommendations from others to get a broader knowledge of what is available to us. Burgers I either didn’t know or wouldn’t expect showed up and I am a better burger eater because of it. There were a lot of fantastic burgers on this list and some of your favorites will not make the top list. That doesn’t mean that those burgers that do not show up on the top list aren’t worth having. That’s not what this is about.

And it comes down to this, the list is about how I felt while eating these burgers. I love burgers and this list is representative of much joy.

So, to quote Marty DiBergi, “But hey, enough of my yakkin’; whaddya say? Let’s boogie!”

10. Small Batch

My pal, Jeff Davids sponsored this burger, which was us having a good lunch together in a place where burgers were prominent. I chose the “Morning After” burger. Yes, it’s a gourmet burger and was what I was in the mood for that day. This burger was a big patty with a fried egg, bacon, fries, pepper jack cheese and grilled onions on what I believe is a brioche bun. In addition to “Done” for doneness and “Very Good” for flavor/seasoning, my notes state: “Some of the juiciness comes from the egg, but still a very flavorful burger. Once you bite into it, you aren’t putting it down until it’s done because of that egg and the mess, but also because it’s a darned good burger.”

The Morning After from Small Batch

9. Maxburger

This was a late entry and I didn’t know much about it because it is kind of down in the boondocks (Old Salisbury/Hickory Tree Rd area). This was also my first “Juicy Lucy” even though I had heard that term a good bit. I had it with both Pepper Jack and American cheese, onion, tomato and while I usually leave off the lettuce on burgers, I forgot to order it that way, and really on a “diner burger,” that’s not a problem. I think it adds to the flavor. This was on a brioche bun.  It was a fantastic diner burger at that. Under the doneness and flavor/seasoning categories, both were listed as “perfect.” And, as the name states, it was juicy. Notes: “A really great burger which I had no expectations of. A surprise. The cheeses and fixings made this a delicious entry.”

Juicy Lucy from Maxburger

8. West End Cafe

Full disclosure, when I had the first burger from WEC just before the start of the burger tour, I was set to let that be the first one but it was a little disappointing. I talked with John, the GM of WEC and he said they had been having a bit of trouble with their grill. I told him that I was going to give him a “mulligan.” This was the only mulligan on this tour and only because I had it before the “tour” started. Now, also in full disclosure, I gave John a heads up that I was coming and he gave me recommendations, as I welcomed from all establishments (after all it is their entry). I paid for the burger and it wasn’t comped. Now, this was certainly a different burger. This was, for all intents and purposes, a burger and a half. This burger was a Hamburger Grinder with habanero jack/provolone cheeses, spinach, 1000 island and pickles. I forgot to add onions, but they weren’t needed. The cheesy/1000 island combo is one thing that made this burger a winner. It was a bit messy but delicious. “Perfect” for the doneness, and “very good” for the seasoning, the majority of the flavor came from the accouterments. Per John, “the most underrated sandwich on the menu.” Per me: “Basically 1.5 burgers, great flavors and great unique sandwich.”

Hamburger Grinder from West End Cafe

7. Cin-Cin Burger Bar

Another full disclosure moment: Cin Cin is owned by the Michael family who also owns Yamas! who did sponsor me in gas. Again, that has nothing to do with this burger’s merit which is what this is about. I had the “Speakeasy Deluxe” burger which is their “classic” burger. This is a gourmet burger that tastes like a diner burger. There is a great underlying onion flavor that I enjoy in diner burgers, this I counted in the “flavor/seasoning.” It was a very juicy burger, too. I do kind of wish that restaurants would get away from the brioche bun as the end-all-be-all of gourmet burgers, though. My notes: “A gourmet burger that tasted like a diner burger, onions-on-the-grill quality. A very good burger.”

The Speakeasy Deluxe from Cin-Cin

6. Canteen Market & Bistro

I will be honest and say that I had little expectations for this burger. I can’t explain why, either. This is a “Smashburger” with American cheese, grilled onions, tomato and 1000 Island on a bun. The burger was perfectly cooked and seasoned. The grilled onions made it more like a diner burger and I love that. The burger wasn’t a thing of aesthetic beauty but it was delicious. “Perfect” in both doneness and seasoning. My notes: “A fantastic burger. Pricey but the flavors were top notch with the grilled onions.” My only knock on Canteen isn’t a knock because I try to stay clear of opining on the prices of restaurants’ wares. That’s their business but my business what I pay. It was more than I’d expect to pay for a burger usually, but the flavors made it worth it.

“Smashburger” from Canteen Market & Bistro

 

SO! That’s 10-6. Now, for the Top 5 Burgers of Winston-Salem (ish).

5. Food Freaks of NC Food Truck

Brandon Cassidy sponsored this burger, but again, there was no bearing on the outcome for that. This was the only “actual” food truck that I got to, although there were a few that were on my “to do” list. This was also the first “official” burger of the tour on May 29. As I said in the Instagram post, “This is perhaps the messiest thing I’ve ever eaten but goodness! This is phenomenal.” It is the Wild Mexi burger which is andouille sausage stuffed into a double burger with jalapeno peppers, Muenster cheese and topped with a Sriracha chili mayo on Martin’s potato bun. This burger is huge and if you put it down, it would be all over everything. So, I recommend keeping a roll of paper towels near and don’t put it down until you’ve downed it. The flavors in this burger burst in your mouth and it’s juicy as all get out. Perfect in doneness. My notes (being my first entry): “What a burger should be.”

Wild Mexi from Food Freaks of NC

4. Zito Pizzeria and Grill

The biggest “didn’t see that coming” moment on this tour was when I ate the burger at Zito. It came as a recommendation and I was like, okay, let’s give it a shot. I had only eaten at Zito once and that was right after they re-opened. That was a pizza-kind of day. I sat down and looked over the menu. I decided I wanted a double burger and got it with cheese, onion, mayo and tomato. The flavors in this burger were amazing. It was juicy, seasoned perfectly and worthy of the #4 spot on my list. Doneness and flavor/seasoning was “perfect.” My notes: “Was pleasantly surprised at how good this burger was. Better once it cooled off a bit. Lots of flavor with no fluff.”

Double Cheeseburger from Zito Pizzeria and Grill

3. Social. Southern Kitchen & Cocktails

A beautiful chunk of filet, NY strip, ribeye and ground beef ground together into a delicious patty of perfection. “All that wonderful beef with mayo, American cheese, housemade pickled onions and housemade pickle chips on a brioche bun. Woot… and BAM!” I said on Instagram. The pickled onions were amazing. The pickle chips were also unlike I’ve had anywhere else. This could have easily been #1 on the list. “Perfect” in flavor and doneness. My notes: “A darn fine burger. Great seasoning and temperature. Made with filet, strip, ribeye and ground beef.” It is in a location far from where I usually go, but it was worth that “drive.”

Burger from Social. Southern Kitchen

2. Zesto Burgers & Ice Cream

Of course, this had to be on the top 10 list, right? You were probably looking for it earlier, huh? Well, there is undoubtedly no burger that gets as much public love from me than that of the “Chubby Decker” from Zesto. There is something about having this double burger with its 8-minute char, the mayo, ketchup, onion, tomato and melty American cheese that puts me in a great mood. It makes me happy. I love eating at Zesto, too. Algenon and his staff make it a great place to eat a delicious, always flavorful and juicy burger. Zesto is much more than its burgers but for this, the burger reigns supreme. At least at the #2 spot.

The Chubby Decker from Zesto Burgers & Ice Cream

And, then there’s #1…

1. Boone Doggies

If you notice throughout my writing of this post, I have mentioned Winston-Salem (ish) a time or two. Boone Doggies is not in Winston-Salem. Luckily for us all, it’s also not in Boone. It located in Yadkinville. Named for the fact that Drew Ausley, who started the Boone Doggies food truck graduated from Appalachian State University in, you guessed it, Boone. The truck focused on hot dogs, mainly. But, the time came to do something different and he opened a restaurant. The location is a true “greasy spoon”-type building and the dining room can get quite crowded. All that being said, you are completely remiss if you don’t make the drive there to have the burgers from this heavenly place. So, about the burger. Steven McDowall alerted me to this restaurant and took me there, and sponsored the tasting. It was an overall win-win for me. I was honored to taste not one. Not two. But three different burgers from Drew and company. I will say that these burgers were probably the best burgers I’ve ever tasted. Ever. First, we had the “Grandfather” which is their classic burger, named after Grandfather Mountain (a Boone reference). It’s a double burger with chopped onion, tomatoes, mayo and American cheese. Next was “The Rock” (another Boone reference): mayo, grilled onions they char in their homemade bbq sauce, bacon, and cheddar cheese. They even char the patty in the bbq sauce for a little something extra! Was it ever. The third is “The Peacock,” named after a chancellor at ASU that Drew had. It’s made with Papa Ausley’s homemade pimento, perfect bacon, tomato and mayo! Seared (and smashed) on the flattop and placed on a buttered toasted bun. I couldn’t pick a favorite of the three but why should I? I got to have all three at the same time. Thank you, Drew and thank you, Steven!

“The Grandfather” from Boone Doggies

“The Peacock” by Boone Doggies

“The Rock” from Boone Doggies

 

 

 

So, here you have it. MY Top 10 Burgers of WSNC (ish). I want to thank all the restaurants for their contributions to the tour and even if they didn’t make the top 10, they all are worth a try. You can’t know how incredibly hard it was to leave anything off this top list. Except for about three places, any of these could have made this list. Thank you to Mac & Nelli’s, Willows Bistro, Campus Gas, Sir Winston, North Point Grill, PB’s Takeout, King’s Crab Shack, Crafted, Earl’s, Allen’s Dairy Treats, Quiet Pint, Trade Street Diner, Mooney’s, Bad Daddy’s, Thunder Road Grill, Krankies, Mozelle’s, the Katharine and New Yorker Pizza Pasta and Wings for your burgers. My apologies to Burger Supreme, Jeffrey Adams, Athena Taverna, Hot Dog City and Sweet Potatoes for not getting to you.

It was a long-yet-short summer. It was a great burger summer. It was great eating great burgers with great friends. Let’s just say it was all great. I know some of yours didn’t make the list. I know some of you don’t agree with this list. But, that’s okay. Convince me otherwise. Tell me about your top list. Tell me the ones you like I left off. Tell me why you don’t agree with the list. I love the conversation and I love the interaction.

Now, I’m off to finding the next “tour” to take. What’re your recommendations on that?

As always, thank you for reading and thank you for listening!

Bon appetit!

The Man Who Ate the Town Podcast Episode 127

©Fam Brownlee

In Episode #127 proudly recorded at The Lab at Industry Hill:

Tim and Ray talk about:

  • Tim announces his Top 10 Burgers in WSNC (ish)! Will your favorite make the cut?
  • Chef Pam Cager opens 3 Layer Cakery tomorrow, October 1 on Liberty Street.
  • Carrabba’s and Daniel Butner involved in a lot of cool things around town and Daniel being a “steward of the community.”
  • Tim will be judging a chili/stew cookoff at The Big Sip, presented by Piedmont Local Magazine/336 Events, this Saturday, on October 5. More details including purchasing tix here.
  • Hot Dog Tasting Trolley Tour is rescheduled for this Saturday, October 5. You can purchase discounted tix using the code “Man5” on this link.
  • Food holidays and history.

Don’t forget our sponsors:

Carrabba’s Italian Grill Healthy, grilled meats, wood-fired pizzas, fresh ingredients, and phenomenal wine dinners. That’s just some of the offerings of Carrabba’s and Daniel Butner, the local proprietario, is salt of the earth and a pillar of good in the community. Go taste the goodness that is Carrabba’s and see why Tim and Ray are always talking it up!

Washington Perk & Provision Company. Better than a convenience store but not quite a grocery store, in the heart of Washington Park and Downtown WSNC.

The Humble Bee Shoppe is challenging your perception of scratch made and leaving you with an experience you couldn’t possibly forget! With inventive flavor combos and a sense of artistry, The Humble Bee Shoppe isn’t your average bakery.

The Man Who Ate the Town is part of The Less Desirables Network. Give it a listen on iTunes, Stitcher, Podcast Addict and TuneIn, basically anywhere you can listen to podcasts. Or you can listen here (at the bottom of the post).

Bon Appetit!

The Man Who Ate the Town Podcast Episode 123

In Episode #123 proudly recorded at The Lab at Industry Hill:

Tim and Ray talk about:

  • Caitlin Weaver, former co-host on The Less Desirables podcast visits the studio and talks foodstuffs with Tim and Ray.
  • Daniel Butner and Carrabba’s is doing awesome things in the community, including the Oncology/Hematology Prom, as well as a wine dinner and this Friday, he’s feeding the road crew that’s doing the work on Old Business 40/Salem Parkway!
  • Tim will be judging a chili/stew cookoff at The Big Sip, presented by Piedmont Local Magazine/336 Events on October 5. More details including purchasing tix here.
  • Hot Dog Tasting Trolley Tour is rescheduled for October 5. You can purchase discounted tix using the code “Man5” on this link.
  • Update on Summer of Burgers Tour.
  • Food holidays and history.

Don’t forget our sponsors:

DiLisio’s Italian Family Restaurant Italian food like you’re sitting, eating in Naples. Wonderful Italian dishes from traditional spaghetti and lasagna to contemporary delights. Rich, flavorful sauces, a variety of pasta options, seafood, meat and more. Just south of Downtown and Business 40 (SOB40).

Washington Perk & Provision Company. Better than a convenience store but not quite a grocery store, in the heart of Washington Park and Downtown WSNC.

The Humble Bee Shoppe is challenging your perception of scratch made and leaving you with an experience you couldn’t possibly forget! With inventive flavor combos and a sense of artistry, The Humble Bee Shoppe isn’t your average bakery.

The Man Who Ate the Town is part of The Less Desirables Network. Give it a listen on iTunes, Stitcher, Podcast Addict and TuneIn, basically anywhere you can listen to podcasts. Or you can listen here (at the bottom of the post).

Bon Appetit!

West End Cafe and Wise Man Team Up!

Wise Man Brewing is taking over the taps at West End Cafe and Chef Sean McCulley will be creating a special dinner menu to accompany the event, each course made from Wise Man beer. This starts tonight, March 22, when the beer dinner will happen and the takeover will run for a week. So, your “what will I do for dinner tonight” question has been answered!

Wise Man will have three or four taps at West End Cafe.

The special menu will be as follows (the menu is subject to change with availability and is on a first come basis):

Small Plates:
Body Electric IPA-Apricot Glazed Seared Diver Scallops with Arugula Salad and Hibiscus Vinaigrette
or
Chasing Happiness Hefeweizen Tempura Chicken Skewers with Chili-Coconut Jam and Jicama Slaw

Entrees:
Citrus-Body Electric DIPA Striped Bass en Papillote with Fennel, Zucchini, Red Bell Pepper, Scallion and Carrot over Basmati Rice.
or
Alt-Acquaintance Braised Pork Ribeye Ribeye with Apple Mostarda and Roasted Red Potato-Bacon Hash

Dessert:
Alt-Acquaintance Beignets with Banana-Hefeweizen Caramel

Of course, the regular full menu will be available as well. There is no preset price as everything is à la carte.
No reservations, no call ahead, just show up and enjoy some delicious food (because it is, after all, West End Cafe) and delicious beer.

West End Cafe is located at 926 W 4th Street in Winston-Salem. For more information call (336) 723-4774. You can always visit them on their Facebook page.

The Man Who Ate the Town Podcast Episode 65

In Episode #65, proudly recorded at Test Pattern Studios:

  • Wise Man Brewing is doing a beer dinner at West End Cafe on March 22.
  • The Salute! NC Wine Festival and Texas Pete Culinary Arts Festival have merged into the Texas Pete Spirits of Summer Festival. More on that to come in future podcasts.
  • Kelly talks about Reboot’s new menu and events calendar.
  • Food Holidays.

Don’t forget our sponsors:

Washington Perk & Provision Company. Better than a convenience store but not quite a grocery store, in the heart of Washington Park and Downtown WSNC.

The Humble Bee Shoppe is challenging your perception of scratch made and leaving you with an experience you couldn’t possibly forget! With inventive flavor combos and a sense of artistry, The Humble Bee Shoppe isn’t your average bakery.

The Man Who Ate the Town is part of The Less Desirables Network. Give it a listen on iTunes, Stitcher, Podcast Addict and TuneIn, basically anywhere you can listen to podcasts. Or you can listen here (at the bottom of the post).

Bon Appetit!

The Man Who Ate the Town Podcast Episode 4

Recorded at Test Pattern Studios, the fourth episode of The Man Who Ate the Town Podcast was actually out two weeks ago but I didn’t post it here, for whatever reason. It was posted on the site and through the RSS feeds. Oh well. I’m releasing both #4 and #5 today. Listen when you want. 2016-08-16 17.52.53

For show #4:

I bring back the food holidays and history that Stephanie used to do on Tart & Tangy Triad.

I also review a recent visit to West End Cafe.

Don’t forget my sponsor, Washington Perk & Provision Company.

Give it a listen on iTunes, Stitcher, Podcast Addict and TuneIn. Or you can listen here.

Bon appetit!

A Contemplation of Fourth

This is reprinted from an article that was published today from Tim’s daily blog, Useless Things Need Love, Too.

Salutations™!!

There have been two high profile (at least to me) closings announced this week in my favorite part of Winston-Salem and on the same city block.  This past Tuesday Augustine’s Bistro sent out a very short, but to the point, email to the restaurant’s closest supporters, friends and family announcing that they were closing as of that day.  No head’s up, no closing ceremony, no time for goodbyes.  About 45 minutes prior to that I received texts from both Aly Reich, the manager and Chris McDonough, the Mixologist (Intoxicologist?) Extraordinaire informing me that they were closing.  They had just found out minutes before.  According to an article by Michael Hastings of the Winston-Salem Journal, Eric Muck, the owner said that business just wasn’t there, as well as some preconceived notions of potential clients about the location.  We’ll get to that in a bit.

Today, in an article from Lynn Felder of Relish and WSJ, it was announced that The Community Arts Cafe is closing as of March 31. CAC was a performance center, cafe, wine & beer bar with a kitchen that was, for a time, a restaurant and catering area.  I saw a performance by Spirit Gum Theater Company there as well as some of the SoundLizzard showcases there.  The kitchen was the kitchen for La Rana Loca and Encore restaurants before that, complete with some beer taps.

Fourth Street is the new main street in Downtown Winston-Salem. a/perture Cinema, Camino Bakery, Washington Perk, Mellow Mushroom, Jeffrey Adams on 4th, Hutch & Harris, Kings Crab Shack & Oyster Bar, Downtown Thai, The Honey Pot, Kabobs on 4th, Tropical Smoothie Cafe, Jimmy John’s, Foothills Brewing, Skippy’s Hot Dogs, Corks Caps & Taps, Quanto Basta, West End Coffee Shop, Mozelle’s, Olde Fourth Street Filling Station, Mooney’s, Downtown Deli, West End Cafe, Recreation Billiards, Bulls Tavern, The Stevens Center, The Winston-Salem Chamber of Commerce and The Less Desirables are just a FEW businesses on this street within a 9 block (or so) area.  This is the street to be on.  Now, both of these are on the 400 block of 4th Street.  That’s two locations in one week announcing closings within 100 yards of each other. What in the world is going on!?  I have some theories and I’m going to expound on them.  These may be slightly off base or they may be close, but they’re mine.

CAC

Let’s start with CAC.  When it opened, it was an innovation to what was going on downtown.  It was Fourth Street’s alternative to Trade Streets art galleries and had a performance center area that had a decent beer and wine selection.  They eventually added catering and a restaurant. The space is huge and they’ve sublet some of it.  But, really most people didn’t even know it was there.  There was a sign, yes, but it wasn’t flashy and didn’t get in your face.  Even when people did see it, it wasn’t really clear what it was. A chalk sandwich board outside becomes commonplace on the street and people tend to stop reading or looking.  Posters in the windows weren’t really indicative, either.  So, there was challenge number one. Then not too long ago, the WS Chamber took over the entire upper part, of the building. In doing so, they basically branded the whole building as WS Chamber.  That’s the prominent signage and I’ll admit, that while I knew about CAC being in there, it was lost on the appearance that it was WS Chamber’s building and they did everything in there.  If someone didn’t have business to do with the Chamber, then why go in, right?  The Chamber are so dominant in that space that when they moved in they demanded (and got) all the parking behind the building and no one is allowed to park there without having credentials. The Chamber are brutal, at times. Yeah, I said it.

UNCSA Stevens Center

Let’s talk Augustine’s.  Augustine’s was at 401 W 4th. It was located in the UNCSA’s Stevens Center complex. Notice I said in the complex. Yes, it was in the same building but it wasn’t necessarily part of the Stevens Center.  However, that is one of the major problems.  People see the decorative awning of the Stevens Center that wraps all the way around the building and it full encompasses where Augustine’s was.  In fact, the Stevens Center’s branding was on the extreme edges of the awning, beyond any signage that any restaurant had out there. You can see from the picture here, what I mean. Thank you to Fam Brownlee for that picture.

So, with the perception of Augustine’s being part of the UNCSA, there are a few stigmas.  You get the low-brows who think the theatre is snooty and pompous and “I don’t want anything to do with those artsy-fartsy kind.” Or, because it’s in there, then it must be expensive.  The fact is, I believe that Augustine’s prices could have actually been a little higher; the quality and portion size (no matter what some ridiculous Yelp! reviewers may have said) were very reasonably priced and I think Eric and Audrey shorted themselves slightly.  I commend them for keeping the prices down as best as they can.  I just think it was particular component of the problem. Another thing, being that no matter how much signage you put out, UNCSA isn’t going to let you outshine them so your signs will never be indicative of what is inside. That being said, they think the restaurant is just part of the Steven Center which gives the misconception that they’re only open when there are shows going on.  They were open Tuesday through Saturday and even opening for lunches in the last month or so.

Another thing about this location is no restauranteur is going to have money to spend on upfitting the kitchen and refrigeration of the place and they’re in dire need of it.  UNCSA certainly isn’t going to pay to replace that, but they’ve had a problem with it for a while.  Compound all these ingredients and they either all are the problem or they contribute to it.

I’m not putting down either the Chamber nor UNCSA’s Stevens Center, but their being there is killing the potential for smaller businesses, namely restaurants in their presence.  The 400 block of Fourth Street at least on the northern side is dominated by those two locations. The irony is that the Chamber is supposed to be there to help businesses not oppress them. Whilst they maintain such visible and occupied presence, nothing else can survive.  Like grass when there are large trees around.  The trees absorb all the nutrients and the surrounding area is barren.

Both CAC and Augustine’s were reliant on word of mouth, however, if no one knows you’re there, they can’t tell anyone else. These locations have no money for marketing and without a marketing budget, there will be no traffic to your place.  Places like I mentioned before on this street had prominent signage that represented their establishments.

I’m challenging you all to become more aware of what is happening in this town that we love or if you’re from out of town, at least try to be more aware of what this town has to offer.  I’m bracing for the next big closure.  Which, sometimes when one thing goes another takes its place, but I’m afraid that the two spaces I’ve discussed are prompted to fail no matter what goes in there unless something changes on the marketing/signage front.  According to Hastings’s article about UNCSA there’s talk that they’ll re-purpose Augustine’s for something that isn’t a restaurant. I’d be relieved if that happened because anything that goes in there, to would be doomed for failure.

None of these factors are the lone factors, I believe.  It’s a culmination of many things, these just being the prominent ones in my mind. These are great locations that happen to be horrible locales.

Enough of my venting for the day.  Don’t let our foodie town erode away.

Until tomorrow, same blog channel…
Scorp out!


For an adult, the world is constantly trying to clamp down on itself. Routine, responsibility, decay of institutions, corruption: this is all the world closing in.” – Bruce Springsteen