by Eric Ginsburg
It’s pretty unbelievable, really.
If Greensboro’s restaurant industry kept abreast of the pace set last week, the city would be unrecognizable in the course of a month. Two well-established restaurants hosted private launch events and set dates for their soft openings in May, while another prestigious venue started a third location and the city’s fourth brewery opened its doors.
What a week.
Most anyone who makes an attempt to stay up to speed knows now that Crafted has announced the theme for its second restaurant — “the art of street food” — and will open its doors on May 19. The announcement came at a private media dinner at the new location, nicknamed “big Crafted” because it is considerably more spacious than the entity’s Elm Street taco joint. Three days later, on May 8, Preyer Brewing opened next door, and people flocked the taproom in such numbers you would’ve thought the pints were free.
The same night, west of UNCG on Spring Garden Street, Freeman’s Grub & Pub held a private opening event, unveiling significant renovations to the building — on the corner with Chapman Street near 913 Whiskey Bar — that formerly housed Sessions. The reasonably priced venue, run by the people behind neighboring Jake’s Billiards, will open to the public on Wednesday.
Last week wasn’t all fanfare for the Gate City service industry; Libby Hill Seafood announced it would close its Summit Avenue spot, citing the structural integrity of the building, on May 4, the same day that 1618 opened its third bar and restaurant, this time downtown across from Cheesecakes by Alex. And up South Elm Street near the original Crafted, Loaf Bakery padlocked its gate and put up a “temporarily closed” sign on the door.
It is unclear exactly what caused Loaf’s closing, but Loaf owner Robert Roth didn’t want to talk. Taking a break from cleaning the bakery alone around 11 a.m. on May 8, Roth answered the bakery door and declined to comment.
“We’re going through a reorganization right now and trying to work something out,” he said. “I won’t be ready to make a statement for another week or two.”
A couple people reported seeing police at the bakery, but Greensboro police spokesperson Susan Danielsen said it is an IRS case. She declined to elaborate, but Guilford County tax records show Loaf Bakery is delinquent on a few thousand dollars in city and county taxes as well as a smaller central business district tax, for 2012, 2013 and 2014. It is unclear if the business owes other taxes.
But overall, things seem to be looking up for the city’s dining and restaurant scene. The three new restaurants are all expansions of existing, very popular venues. And all of them, as well as Preyer Brewing, occupy buildings that have been vacant for a few years, and in most cases a significantly long period of time. Each, with considerable overhaul and upfit, are now dazzling, a glimpse of what the city’s future might hold.
It’s no fluke that most of these businesses are opening downtown — though the Spring Garden stretch is clearly another cultural hub in the city — and it’s particularly worth noting that two of them are expanding downtown’s footprint off of the main drag while a third helps revive the 300 block of South Elm that has long been plagued by decades-old vacancies.
Freeman’s Grub & Pub opens the day this issue is published (May 13). 1618 Downtown and Preyer Brewing are now open, and Crafted: The Art of Street Food launches May 19.