Downtown Restaurant Boom

Monday, Feb 27, 2017

A new year has begun, and for many people in Downtown Salisbury, it presents a new beginning.

New places are popping up on the blocks surrounding Main St., including notable new restaurants. Each one has a unique atmosphere paired with an expansive variety of food and beer. Locals in Salisbury and visitors to our historic downtown can appreciate the new vibrant life that the budding locations are bringing.

The Smoke Pit is one such restaurant. It has been busy almost constantly since opening in January this year. The aroma of southern comfort smokehouse wafts around the block. Inside, the atmosphere is welcoming and the space feels airy.Behind the scenes at the Smoke Pit is a partnership of three. Devin Barbee, Jeremy Beaver, and Joey Graham established The Smoke Pit in Concord and now have opened this new location in downtown Salisbury. With over 35 years of experience in restaurants and food service between them, there is no doubt why the new location is already a success.

The Smoke Pit gets meat fresh daily and rotates smoking it in 24-hour shifts. Cornbread and coleslaw are the most favored sides with barbecue, and there are ribs, wings, burgers, or salads. Order carefully, because the portion sizes almost guarantee that there will be enough leftovers for multiple meals.

Owner Jeremy Beaver mentioned that the excessive portion sizes are intentional. “In most restaurants,” he says, “when customers leave with the sweet taste of a dessert in their mouths, they are more likely to return. Though the Smoke Pit has great desserts, like our Banana Pudding, we like the idea of serving meals that customers will eat again at home so they think about us again.”

The Smoke Pit is worth a visit because they focus on their customer service and their food quality, including fresh meat and tasty sauces or rubs. Calling in for catering is also an option. Their hope is that every customer leaves feeling like a fulfilled friend.

The Railwalk Brewery is a huge space with huge promise in the arts district of Salisbury by Lee Street.

The Brewery opened last September and has vast supplies of wine and beer made locally by Morgan Ridge vineyard, as well as a variety of meals. The space is expansive and comforting, and the décor has an interesting appeal—much of it was repurposed.

The building itself once was a warehouse, and now the restaurant’s walls showcase beautiful wood or tin that was repurposed from old houses or barns. Amy Baudoin, the owner, also has an interest in rescuing pieces from auctions. As a result, the seating, tables, and plates make the Railwalk Brewery feel like home.

Amy Baudoin is the wife in a husband/wife restauranting duo, and she has great expectations for the Morgan Ridge Railwalk Brewery. She has long-term experience in restaurants and vineyards, and now she tackles both simultaneously. She clearly saw a fit for the unique brewery/restaurant combo in Salisbury.

The Railwalk Brewery also sponsors or features a non-profit every month to help improve the surrounding Salisbury and Rowan community. With specialty catering and space intended for large parties, the Railwalk Brewery can serve or host events. Some of the Morgan Ridge wines were even in this year’s Wine about Winter. The real entrance is around the back, so swing by sometime to try some local fresh beer or wine or the good food.

The Shuckin’ Shack is another new restaurant on Main that found a niche in downtown Salisbury. It opened in October of 2016 and offers the unique combination of sports and seafood. Customers can enjoy oysters or other types of seafood that are delivered fresh daily. There is also regular bar food like fried pickles and mini-corndogs.

According to owner Chris Whitten, the space is modeled after a typical “east coast sports bar,” and they often host local fan clubs for football games. When asked why the Shuckin’ Shack was worth a visit, Whitten said, “We have the longest bar in Rowan County. We also have every sports package available on cable, so we can show any game or match playing.”

Chris Whitten also noticed that many of the Shuckin’ Shack regulars are not natives to downtown Salisbury, but rather travel from elsewhere in Rowan County. Often featuring special deals during game times, the Shuckin’ Shack shows great promise as it continues to accumulate growth through the various sports seasons.

Lastly, the final new addition to the downtown blocks is City Tavern. After opening in November, it is thriving in the shell of the old Bench Warmers bar. The owner, Todd Littleton, is established in the bar scene. After twenty years of experience, Littleton’s interests shifted: “My friends and I had gotten to the age where we had kids to think about, and growing into a restaurant seemed necessary.” There are still 42 beers on draft, but now there is the addition of a variety of food capable of satisfying anyone.

City Tavern is spacious with two stories. The lower level has a large bar, numerous high-top and regular tables, and a front-facing patio for additional seating. The second floor has a stage with even more seating, but a wall of garage-door windows. On a busy night with live performers upstairs, the huge windows open up to let in the fresh night air without letting out the fun.

Décor is sparse, but Littleton expects City Tavern to be there for a long time while building its own character and identity along the way. The hardwood floors and the brick walls are beautiful on their own, plus the number of television screens and the luxuries of outlets and purse hooks for bar patrons will inspire customers to come in and stay. City Tavern is definitely a place to visit for quality fresh food and a comfortable, welcoming atmosphere.

Downtown Salisbury has a wealth of variety in restaurants and stores, and these new additions only contribute to the rich and vibrant downtown scene. Consider trying one or all of these new restaurants for a fresh taste of the exciting downtown.