A new restaurant opening on Market Square is always bound to stir a certain amount of interest. It’s clear all of us enjoy eating out and get excited to have a new choice. This restaurant, however, comes with a bit of personal history connecting it to the location. At 15 Market Square, former home to Bella Luna, which closed last November, the reference in the title, is to co-owner Glenn Kirtley’s childhood memory of the store located at that address long before there was a Bella Luna.
When his family piled in the car to go on a Saturday outing the question would be asked, “Where are we heading?” The answer from the children was invariably, “Not Watson’s!” because they didn’t want to endure their mother shopping there. Of course, that’s where they went and eventually they referred to it as “going to Not Watson’s.” When the space became available and Glenn, along with partners Ron Houser and Marilyn Parham decided to open a restaurant there, the name was an easy choice. These are the same families who also own Soccer Taco.
I first dropped by before the opening to learn about the restaurant and manager Beau McKee helpfully stopped what he was doing for a few minutes and gave me the intro. They’d hoped to open in July, but experienced a few delays, the one remaining of which is the liquor license.
That means that opening day they could only offer eighteen taps of beer and twenty-five different bottled beers, which isn’t too bad. Once the license is approved they will have three high gravity beers, seven white wines, six red wines, twelve signature drinks and a full bar. The beer selection emphasizes regional craft beers ranging from Asheville down to Atlanta and, of course, our local Saw Works beer.
The outside of the restaurant features seating for about twenty and a large awning while the interior offers seating for over one hundred. The interior is decorated with vintage signs like the coke sign pictured here, as well as old photographs of downtown. The dominant colors are earth tones from the brick walls, to the beautiful bar and the floor, but splashes of color on the columns and wall sections and the ubiquitous hanging red lights, keep it from looking too dark. The construction was done by Built Green Construction who also built the Monkey Bar (downstairs at Soccer Taco) and Casual Pint.
The menu features ten appetizers ranging from Fried Green Tomatoes (which they batter – not frozen) to fried oysters, wings and chili. Prices range from $6.99 to $12.99. Five different salads range from $4.99 to $10.99. The more expensive salad is interesting and made us wonder why anyone hadn’t thought of it before. Called “Make My Burger a Salad!!” it involves selecting a burger from the menu and having the meat and ingredients served in a bed of salad. Brilliant.
There six different conventional entrees including ribs, fish and chips, and pork tenderloin which start at $10.99 and run up to $17.99. The five sandwich offerings are based on the kinds of sandwiches co-owner Glenn Kirtley would enjoy when traveling. The Philly sandwich uses bread brought in from Philadelphia to make it more authentic. The sandwiches cost $7.99 to $11.99. Six, location based, hot dogs are also offered and each feature a quarter pound of Angus beef ($4.99 – $6.99). Fourteen different burgers include a half pound of Angus beef and range in price from $6.99 to $12.99.
There are four desserts and none are frozen, each made from scratch. The Keylime Pie is made in-house and the chocolate torte, maple cupcakes with pig candy and carrot cake are made locally by a woman noted on the menu as “Wilma.” There are also several items on a child’s menu.
They use the freshest ingredients possible and avoid freezing anything they can. They prepare their own burger patties, for example, they are not frozen or pre-patted. They make fresh pimento cheese and tomato jam in house, as well. The burgers are also available in a gluten-free version.
Urban woman and I ordered the Oyster Po boy and the “Make My Burger a Salad.” I asked for bacon on my po boy and that was no problem. The oysters and bacon, as well as the bread were delicious. Urban Woman said the same of her salad. We split a piece of key lime pie which was good, as well.
So come on out and try it. If you eat at Soccer Taco, you’ll see some familiar faces inside and I think you’ll like this new option for dining in the city. They have specials Monday through Thursday and the hours are 11:00 AM to 10:00 PM Monday through Thursday, 11:00 AM to 12:00 AM Friday and Saturday and 11:00 AM to 9:00 PM on Sundays.