The Man Who Ate the Town Podcast Episode 218a – A Supplement Podcast

Tim talks about the impending closing of Finnigan’s Wake and what the restaurant/bar means to this city, the community, THIS PODCAST, and to him personally. No crowd noise. No background music. Just the intro/outro and Tim.

Slàinte mhath, Finnigan’s Wake.

Finnigan’s Wake to close for good Oct. 30

This is a reprint of the Winston-Salem Journal article, it is not mine, I don’t own it. Michael is my cohost and he wrote it for the Journal. Here is the original article. I just wanted the copyright issue out of the way.

Finnigan’s Wake, a mainstay bar and restaurant downtown for 15 years, has announced it will close permanently on Oct. 30.

Owner Philip “Opie” Kirby” posted an announcement on the business’ Facebook page on Monday.

“It’s been an amazing 15 years. One-third of my life has been in this space that you helped create. People make the place and we’ve been blessed with the best staff and customers. Y’all have always stepped up and made our events, fundraisers, and community outreach your own. Your generosity has multiplied over the years to make Winston Salem a better place to live.”

Finnigan’s Wake, 620 Trade St., was one of the first restaurants in the Downtown Arts District, opening in 2006. It celebrated its 15th anniversary on Oct. 6.

Like many restaurants this year, Finnigan’s Wake had reduced its hours — in particular eliminating Sunday brunch — as a result of the labor shortage that has affected many industries during the coronavirus pandemic.

Kirby said in an email that the decision to close was not related to the coronavirus pandemic. “We’ve stayed steady thanks to our amazing community,” he said.

Instead, Kirby, 47, said he personally was ready for a change. “It’s time for me to do something different after this many years in the business. Looking for a new adventure,” he said.

Finnigan’s Wake was known for its big St. Patrick’s Day parties, as well its annual fundraisers for the St. Baldrick’s Foundation, in which hundreds of people would get their heads shaved outside the restaurant to help raise money for pediatric cancer research. This fall’s fundraiser raised $50,000.

But, perhaps most of all, Finnigan’s was known for its unassuming owner, who always had a smile for everyone and was known for posting positive, supportive sayings on social media.

Some of his Facebook messages include:

“Don’t fill the space with the first person who fits. Fill the space with the right person who fits.”

“You have more bounce to the ounce. Don’t ever forget it!”

“Gratitude is good.”

His most recent one, on Saturday: “Walk your path.”

Kirby said he didn’t quite know what his future path will be. But he definitely wants to do some volunteering.


Mr. Barbecue to Finally Re-Open Its Doors on March 15

©Walt Unks/WSJournal

The heck with the Ides of March! Winston-Salemites or as I like to call them Camel Citizens, will finally be getting their BBQ Mecca back on Monday, March 15 when Jimmy Carros reopens the famed restaurant almost two years after the fire that gutted part of the building. Thankfully, when that fire happened on April 10, 2019, during prime dinner service, everyone got out and no one was injured. The restaurant has been open and serving delicious “Q” since 1962.

To find out more, visit their Facebook page or their website. I will talk more about this on Monday’s podcast!

Those We’ve Lost

2020 was a bad year for everyone, but especially the Food & Beverage Community.

Here’s a list of those that have closed since the pandemic started. The dates are the dates of the posted announcements (if known). Not all restaurants closed because of the pandemic, necessarily, but it certainly didn’t help matters. This list will update as needed.

Bib’s Downtown – Dec 31, 2020
Bonefish – June 23, 2020
Cafe Vera Du – Oct 17, 2020
Carmine Italian Restaurant – Sept 15, 2020
Cheddar’s Scratch Kitchen – May 18, 2020
Cimarron Steakhouse – August 26, 2020
Corks Caps & Taps – August 24, 2020
Dr. Chops – September 24, 2020 (Closed since March 2020)
Lighthouse Grill – September 17, 2020
Mary’s Gourmet Diner – May 25, 2020 (Closed since March 14, 2020)
Miyako Japanese Restaurant – January 1, 2021 (Sold and changed to a chain)
Mooney’s Mediterranean Cafe – October 12, 2020 (Closed since March 2020)
Mozzarella Fellas – January 1, 2021 (Rebranded to Dom’s on Spruce Street)
Organix Juice Bar – November 2, 2020
Paul’s Fine Italian Dining – July 1, 2020
Providence at BB&T – May 29, 2020
Ruby Tuesday in Clemmons – August 11, 2020 (Closed since March 2020)
Silo – March 31, 2020 (Turned keys in long before the announcement)
Social Southern Kitchen & Cocktails – January 2, 2021
Spruce Street Garden – Craft Tavern – October 30, 2020
Tart Sweets – October 22, 2020
The Beer Growler – December 14, 2020 (Closed since September 2020)
The Slanted Shed – October 18, 2020
Trade Street Diner – July 1, 2020 (Closed since March 2020/rebranded Cibo)
West End Coffee House – August 31, 2020
Zesto’s Burgers & Ice Cream – Official date unknown.

Wild Willie’s Wiener Wagon – Moved to Myrtle Beach September 2020
Twin City Hive – Moved to Gibsonville August 22, 2020 (and have since closed again).
The Flour Box is closed temporarily in search of a new location (late February 2020).

Take-Out Pledge Winston-Salem

I have taken the #TakeOutPledgeWS and pledge to support local businesses. Some are only doing downtown but I think all businesses in WSNC need some push. Here’s a video to explain more.

Take the pledge with me!

Bib’s Downtown Closes Today

We held out hope that one of our downtown food staples, Bib’s Downtown, would find a buyer and continue on. It seems that’s not to be. This is reposted from Michael Hastings’ article in the Winston-Salem Journal, it’s not mine.


Bib’s Downtown, 675 W. Fifth St., has decided to permanently close. Its last day of business will be Thursday.

In mid-December, the owners announced that they were negotiating to sell the business. They expressed confidence that the sale would go through, saying they needed only to finalize details and they expected a seamless transition.

But in a statement Tuesday, co-owner Robert Moreau said that the sale did not go through as planned.

“We have had ongoing talks with potential buyers over the last year,” Moreau said. “Despite favorable lease rates, buyers just weren’t able to get past the uncertainty of what the pandemic holds for 2021 and 2022.”
Bib’s opened in December 2008, a partnership between Moreau, chef Mark Little and Little’s son-in-law Ricky Seamon. The restaurant quickly became a popular destination downtown, offering what Little called neither Eastern nor Western barbecue but “Bestern.”

The restaurant sold a variety of smoked meats, including pulled pork, ribs, Texas-style beef brisket, smoked sausage, and smoked turkey breast and chicken.

The restaurant participated in many community events and won awards at such festivals at [sic] the Twin City Rib Fest. Little and Seamon competed on the show TLC show “BBQ Pitmasters” in 2013.

Moreau said that the restaurant’s lease was up at the end of 2020 and that it had suffered from the closing of Business 40 in 2019, and from the coronavirus pandemic in 2020.

“What really hurt us is what we do is 20% or more catering and that vanished by decree,” Moreau said, referring to the lack of gatherings during the pandemic. “We could wait nine or 10 months, and maybe people will be throwing some big parties. But with the timing of the end of the lease, it just didn’t make sense.”
In a post on its Facebook page, Moreau said the closing was a hard decision. “Winston-Salem, our hometown, needs to know that their support of Bib’s has been nothing short of amazing. A huge thank you to all.”

Thank you again to the Winston-Salem Journal and Michael Hastings.

This is sad news. They plan to be open today until 4p or until their supplies run out. Here’s to you, Mark, Robert, and Ricky, and may the next steps be full of heart and prosperity.

6th and Vine to Close Until Spring

6th and Vine reposted this from owner Kathleen Barnes:

6th and Vine is grateful for a fantastic outdoor dining season! And, while we’ve extended our “outdoor only” model as long as possible, with temperatures falling, and Covid cases rising, it’s growing difficult to make ends meet. But, we will still be open, this THURSDAY, through SUNDAY, from 11 am to 9 pm. So, please come visit, and support us, before we begin our hibernation.
WE WILL BE BACK … probably in late February or early March!!
On a personal note: the members of my staff have stood beside me with amazing support, love, and laughter, this whole time! They have made the stress fun, instead of debilitating. I have NEVER worked harder in my life (in the restaurant, and as a full-time college professor – online, of course!) It’s been 7 days a week, most hours of the day or night (when I can’t sleep).
6th and Vine has been fortunate, this summer and fall. We love our regular customers/friends, and we’ve made quite a few more this summer!! Come out Thursday or Sunday for ½ price wine; raise a glass in our honor; and celebrate with us ….
TIP your servers!! They’ve more than earned it!
A huge shout out to Patrick Read Johnson (my own personal MacGyver) who engineered so much for us this year!
Hope to see you, this Thursday, through Sunday!! And either way, we WILL see you in the SPRING!
Stay safe, and stop the spread. We can do this!

Stephanie and I ate at 6th and Vine this past Saturday. It was quite cold in the alley but the heated bench made it better. But, the food was outta sight! So good. Check out our Instagram feed to see pics of what we had.

Bull’s Tavern to Close for Season After This Weekend

Bull’s Tavern posted this on their Facebook page this morning:

A personal message from the boss lady…
With the increased restrictions, Bull’s will be open this week:
Wednesday – Thursday – 5-11pm
Friday – Sunday – 5-9pm
*All standard pandemic protocols apply
My initial thoughts are this is the last weekend of Bull’s until Spring, but the staff and I will have a discussion early next week to confirm that decision. I’m so proud of my tiny skeleton crew that has managed to keep such a positive outlook through such a difficult time.
We still have really cool hoodies and t-shirts for sale if you want to support us but don’t feel comfortable coming out right now. I can ship for an additional charge of $5 and I’m happy to deliver to porches throughout the Triad.
I am confident that Bull’s will make it through this and other challenges it will face in the future. We are looking forward to the days when we can go back to being Bull’s again, bands playing on stage, rotating taps with interesting beers, shot glasses slamming on the bar top, the karaoke nights with all of the entertaining and talented singers of WSNC, we miss all of it and all of you! It’s the free-spirited and fun-loving place!
Since I know as soon as I hit “post,” someone will reply with, “just open up.” I’m going to address the multitude of reasons why we will NOT be doing that so I can just say it once and for all. I’ve never been more exhausted from having the same conversation in my life.
We have made it nine years in business without an ABC violation and I plan to keep it that way. Unlike other businesses that don’t sell alcohol, we are governed by the ABC (the group who permits us and sells us liquor) and the ALE (the division of the SBI that makes sure we are following the rules), there’s no consistency of how violations are enforced. Ask any ABC holder and they will tell you the same frustrating story. After being closed for nine months, I don’t have the resources to pay lawyers and fines to fight a violation where I’m clearly in the wrong.
ABC violations cause a business’ liquor liability premiums to increase, considering that bill is already higher than a good yearly salary, I’m not coming out of this with another huge bill. At best, it looks like I’m going to have to go back to a 9-5 for a couple of years while running Bull’s at night to dig the business out of debt. Now, if bars had been allowed to open when the breweries and restaurants did, when the viral spread was low and the weather was nice outside, would the circumstances be different? Of course, they would, but it’s the “Bible Belt” and the ABC laws haven’t been updated in our state since prohibition was repealed, so that wasn’t the case.
When I started on this journey nine years ago, I had two goals in mind, first to open my own business and the other to provide my Daddy with a job that didn’t involve him running a piece of heavy equipment. I accomplished both those goals. My love of music and that magic you feel when you listen to it live led me rightly down this path. I’ve met so many amazing people along this journey, from the musicians to fellow business owners, to people I’ve employed over the years, to patrons that become family and everyone else I’ve met along the way, I’m grateful to you. I was determined to turn that dream into a reality so many years ago and I’m determined to keep Bull’s alive and flourishing post-pandemic.
This virus is very real. I can’t scroll my social media without seeing constant posts from friends who either have the virus, had the virus, have family in the hospital with the virus, or sadly lost someone to the virus. It’s surreal every time I mindlessly scroll through my phone. Personally, I’ve been in isolation for the past three weeks and plan to stay that way until the vaccine comes available. I had a strong, sobering warning from my physician of the long-term danger than COVID could cause to my body since my immune system is already hostile with lupus. I’ve got to take care of me, to keep Bull’s going in the future. Take care of each other, wear your mask, stay distant, do all the things you need to do to take care of yourself and your family.
If you want to do something that doesn’t cost a dime, that could truly help a local business owner, call our hometown Senator Richard Burr’s office 202-224-3154. Ask him to support some form of a relief package that helps to fund small businesses and the unemployed. He took no issue warning his wealthy donors that this pandemic was eminent, selling his own stocks or bailing out Wall Street. It’s time he steps up to the plate and helps those who truly make up the fabric of his own community and our country.
I love you all and I can’t wait to be a serial hugger on the other side!
Love and Light,
Danielle Bull

DiLisio’s Added to Another Hospital

Tony and Maria DiLisio

A few weeks back, I reported that DiLisio’s Italian Restaurant had agreed to a partnership with WFU Baptist Hospital in Winston-Salem to provide daily, pre-packaged meals for their “Grab-N-Go” program with local restaurants. Maria DiLisio called me last night and said that they had been picked up by WFU High Point, formerly High Point Regional, to provide the same service.

To reiterate: Tony and Maria will be whipping up and delivering fresh lasagna, baked ziti, baked spaghetti, eggplant parmigiana, eggplant rollatini, and cannoli every day, Monday through Friday. The items will be available for cafeteria dine-in and take away for after cafeteria hours. There is a microwave on site so you can reheat your dish and eat it there no matter the time.

I am excited that there are additional outlets for the DiLisios to get their food to the masses. Their food is comfort food and many folks that “have to eat in a hospital” need comfort food.

Congratulations to Tony and Maria!

A Community Staple Closes Permanently

The Lighthouse Restaurant, a place I had many a breakfast, a meeting, a conversation, even where one of my business partners and I had our first meeting, announced that they are closing for good. I don’t know what could be said that Michael Hastings didn’t already say. Know that this is his article in the Winston-Salem Journal and I’m only reprinting/reposting it. Thank you, Michael.


The Lighthouse, one of the oldest operating Greek-owned restaurants in Winston-Salem, is closing for good after lunch service today.

“It’s just the pandemic. The revenue is not there,” said co-owner Steve Doumas, whose family has owned the business for most of its 66 years.

The Lighthouse, which first opened in 1954, also is considered the second-oldest restaurant downtown, behind Murphy’s Lunch (which opened in 1950 and currently is temporarily closed).

George Pappas opened the Lighthouse in the West End in 1954 at the intersection of Burke Street and Brookstown Avenue, across the street from its current location at 905 Burke St.

Within a few years, Alex Fragakis took it over. In 1962, he hired a young Nick Doumas, who turned out to be a natural in the kitchen and dining room. Doumas soon became the face and warm personality of the Lighthouse and would remain so for the next 50 years. Nick Doumas’ brother Louis joined the restaurant in 1966 and the two Doumas brothers became sole partners in the restaurant when Fragakis retired in the 1970s.
The Lighthouse became one of Winston-Salem’s most popular diners, a place to meet a friend for breakfast anytime or for such staples as spaghetti, fried flounder or pork chops.

In 1982, the Doumas brothers moved across the street to the current location. Nick Doumas died in 2016 at age 78 after an accident with an all-terrain vehicle, but the family continued to operate the business.

The current owners are Louis Doumas and Nick Doumas’ children: Steve Doumas, Joe Doumas, Vera Doumas Tucker and Gena Doumas Cook. Louis Doumas has not been actively involved in the restaurant since the pandemic began, but his son Harold Doumas has continued to manage the restaurant.

“It’s been a tough decision,” said Steve Doumas, who separately owns Camel City BBQ downtown.

The Lighthouse closed from mid-March, when the pandemic began, until July 10.

“We never did takeout. For diners, it’s tough now. This is the kind of restaurant where people come to eat in,” he said. Many customers came to the Lighthouse for the people as much as the food. Many of them were older — in the high-risk group for COVID-19 — and much of the menu just didn’t travel well, making it unsuitable for takeout.

City council member John Larson was one of many regulars at the Lighthouse. “I had breakfast and lunch there today. Sometimes I ate there three times a day. I practically raised my daughter there,” Larson said Thursday. “It was a real meeting ground. You’d see the mayor or city council members there. Bankers, lawyers would come in. Everybody came to that restaurant.”

Mary Haglund — the founder of Mary’s Gourmet Diner, which also decided to close during the pandemic — said that her first job in Winston-Salem was at the Lighthouse. “It was just one of those places where everyone really knew each other. The waitresses would always be cutting up and telling jokes,” she said. “And Nick and Louis, as long as you did your job, if you needed anything, you just had to ask and they would help you if they could. It was a fascinating place to work.”

The family owns the property at 905 Burke. Steve Doumas said that family members have not decided what to do about it. He left open the possibility that the Lighthouse could return.

“We don’t know what the future holds. As the five owners, we haven’t sat down and decided where we are headed next,” he said. “We might possibly look at reopening and reinventing the Lighthouse in the future.”