FreshEyes: When Winston-Salem became cooler than Greensboro

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photoby Bob Campbell

I grew up in Danville, Va. in the 1970s. At the time Greensboro was the place we trekked to find entertainment, whether it was seeing Alice Cooper at the coliseum, Calabash at Castaways or going to Carolina Circle Mall because, well, it was a mall.

Then I grew up and embarked on a career in broadcasting that took me all over the country. In 2005, I moved to Winston-Salem to become program director and morning-show host at the old Hitz 94, which later became Oldies Majic 941 (another story entirely). Sure enough, Greensboro was still the primary destination for dining and entertainment. From Natty Greene’s to the Carolina Theater to Joey Medaloni’s Much, Heaven and N Club and the beautiful new stadium for the Grasshoppers, the Gate City was the cool city. Winston was nice, the City of the Arts, but as for nightlife, well, there were a few places on Fourth Street, the Garage, Foothills and the old Ziggy’s and that was about it. The darkened storefronts on Fourth vastly outnumbered the eating and drinking establishments.

But change was in the air. The Twin City was in the midst of a downtown renewal that continues to bear fruit. A new baseball stadium for the Dash, formerly the Warthogs, not one but two new brewpubs in Small Batch and Hoot’s Roller Bar, fine dining at Spring House and Jeffrey Adams and multiple other bars, restaurants, art galleries, business, residence and downtown events combined to make Winston-Salem a vibrant, thriving destination.

Do nightclubs, bars and restaurants still thrive in downtown Greensboro? Sure, but back in 2005 Greensboro was the hot, hip, happening downtown destination envied by those of us in sleepy Winston-Salem who wished we had a downtown worth hanging out in. I don’t  know if the entertainment cognoscenti of Greensboro actually envy downtown Winston-Salem, but I do know that nobody over here suffers from any “downtown inferiority complex” anymore.

But change was in the air. The Twin City was in the midst of a downtown renewal that continues to bear fruit.

In fact, we may even be starting to get a little snotty about it. I’d go on but I’ve got to head out to catch a show at the Garage after a snack at King’s Crab Shack, dinner at Sweet Potatoes and a few drinks at Rec Billiards, Single Brothers, Silver Moon Saloon and the District, followed by a nightcap at Bull’s Tavern or Finnegan’s Wake and a stroll home to my Fifth Street loft.  Nyah nyah.

Bob Campbell, former program director and morning-show host at Majic 941 and afternoon host at WSJS. Affectionately known as “The Triad’s Last Radio Star”. Follow his adventures on Twitter    @IncredibleBC