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).

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.

©Bibs


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.

The Man Who Ate the Town Minute (or Two)

Things are happening in this city, food and otherwise, at breakneck speed. It’s really hard to cover it all. We do the podcast once a week and with that, we’re taking the next two off from recording.

Let me cover some stuff.

Bar La Ch.ngada had mentioned they were going to partner with Xcaret (which is owned by the same folks) to offer food options. Then the Governor’s orders came through and they decided to pull back on that. Then, they announced, again, that they were back on! So, they’re back on! New hours will be Tuesday-Saturday 4p-10p and Sundays 1030a-9p. They are closed on Sundays. These hours effective Thursday, December 17.


Local 27101/Artisan has officially changed their name and logo to Local Artisan. We had Greg Carlisle on the podcast a few weeks back for him to announce this and yesterday they unveiled the new logo. I like it. It’s simple, sleek, and easy to read. If you haven’t had this restaurant in a while, it’s still as good as it ever was (better, even) and whether you’re doing the lunch (27101) thing or the dinner (Artisan) thing, you’ll love it. Congrats, Greg, on the rebranding!


Arigato Japanese Steakhouse and Seafood has announced that it will take takeout orders up until 9p in GSO but their WSNC location isn’t doing takeout just yet. They are also selling gift certs/cards on their website but that website is currently (1030a on Wednesday) being repaired.


La Carreta on Robinhood has implemented QR codes for menus. I think this is great. I like that other restaurants have basically laminated a large QR code and put them on the table and people don’t have to handle grody menus. I will admit, though, that I have some trouble reading them, even on my Samsung S10+. But, I’m willing to take that inconvenience, especially in these times, with keeping both Stephanie and me and other folks safe. Good job, La Carreta (and other establishments doing this).


This one hurts. Social. Southern Kitchen is closing for good. This place was great. Granted I only ate there twice, once for my “Summer of Burgers Tour 2019” and another just for appetizers, but the folks were great, the food delicious, the atmosphere perfect. It was just all-around great. Now, why didn’t I eat there more? It takes me around 20-30 minutes to get there from my house. That’s an hour round trip and if we have any alcohol at all, we don’t want to have to drive that and Uber is way too expensive that far away. So, it was special occasions that got me out there.

Here is what the public announcement said:

Jeff and I have worked together in restaurants since March of 2000.
20 years of
~ Behind!
~ Heard!!
~ We 86’d that an hour ago!!!
~ I NEED RUNNNERS!!!!
Let us not forget the priceless sound of $5 wine glasses hitting the floor. 🤬
Oh how we love the sounds. 🥰
The sounds of plates clinking
Cooks singing..
The end of the night LAUGHS with our staff after literally climbing out of the weeds for hours.
The SOUNDS of our guest laughing over a delicious meal with their friends and family.
The SOUND of glasses clinking in celebrations, belly laughs that would fill a room.
You could hear the bear HUGS and huge smiles…
The delight Chef would get when he’d come out of the kitchen. Witnessing that first bite. Then your guest shares a bite, because “this is too damn good for you not to try”
That is why we have AND WILL ALWAYS be restauranteurs!
It is with huge sadness that we would like to share our closing in January. We are leaving the door open to be able to do what we love in the future and want you to know We LOVE Winston Salem!
We will still offer both catering and private chef events until the coast is clear of Covid.
There are very few OWNER operated restaurants who do it for the money, not with these profit margins!!
We do it for all the reasons listed above and when the celebrations of food and life pause, we must pause as well…
This too shall pass… and we hope to be back in the culinary scene, before you know it.
Thank you for all the love and support Winston! We love you dearly…
Erika and Jeff Gibbs
We have found a GREAT concept to take the space, and we know they will offer fabulous to-go options and eventually dine-in service later this winter.

Thanks for reading my The Man Who Ate the Town Minute (or Two).

Arigato Japanese Steak & Seafood Updates Their Hours During the New Executive Order

Arigato Japanese Steakhouse posted this scheduling update on their Facebook page:
Hello~ announcing some updates regarding the Executive Order that starts tomorrow.
– last reservation time we’ll be taking each day will be 8:30 pm.
– we’ll be opening 30 minutes earlier each day. ( new opening times will be Mon-Fri 4:30 pm, Sat & Sun 2:30 pm)
– takeout @ Greensboro location will take orders until 9 pm.

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.


©Unks/WSJournal

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.”

Firebirds Woodfired Grill Confirms Reopening

I had heard rumors of a reopening of Firebirds Woodfired Grill, but it wasn’t evident by their Facebook, nor website that our local store had actually allowed for dine-in. So, I reached out and Scott Bowman, general manager of the Winston-Salem store wrote an email to me. Here’s what he said:

Good morning! I would love to catch you up on everything we are doing here at Firebirds Wood Fired Grill. We appreciate you thinking about us.

We are open in our dining rooms. Currently half capacity.

We are open for take-out and delivery. Our delivery providers are door dash, uber eats and post mates. Door dash being the more popular choice. We offer curbside service as well. Parking is on the side of the building.

We have family meals for take-out only that have a choice of baby back ribs, wood grilled chicken, or our meatloaf. Ribs come with fries and the meatloaf and chicken come with mashed potatoes. Family meals also include a salad choice and sweet treat.

We do still have the “butcher cut” meats available. These come with steak seasoning to be cooked at home.

Please let me know if you have any other questions. Thanks again for thinking about Firebirds!

Regards, Scott Bowman, General Manager, Winston-Salem