Mozelle’s Fresh Southern Bistro sits on the corner of Brookstown Avenue and Fourth Street, the heart of West End, where there’s been a restaurant on each corner as far back as anyone can remember. The building that houses Mozelle’s has been a restaurant for at least 50 years.

West End locals have stories of cruising by at night after dropping of their dates, or sobering up on coffee and eggs at the counter before church.

As a first-time restaurateur, Jennifer Smith had no idea that the community would embrace Mozelle’s as much as they have, and that’s been the case these last 10 years. In this “little restaurant that could,” it is not uncommon for conversations to break out between tables, because so many diners know each other from their loyal patronage or because they are neighbors or colleagues in this close-knit enclave.

At first blush, you might not catch what distinguishes Mozelle’s from other restaurants around the Triad that sling Southern vittles. The intimacy of the open kitchen, the daily specials showcasing local ingredients and the carefully curated wine list conspire to elevate your experience. The bimonthly wine dinners are so popular that there are always two sold-out seatings, often before the menu is finalized.

Mozelle’s Fresh Southern Bistro $$

878 W. Fourth St. WS, 336.703.5400

Most online reviews tend to focus on Mozelle’s singular tomato pie and creamy succotash, the classic fried chicken with peach chutney or the gourmet meatloaf nestled atop collard greens and grits, which have been featured on the menu since day one. You would not be remiss to choose one of those fine offerings. But there’s more to the story.

The casual, yet attentive, service is competent and comforting. Snagging a coveted sidewalk table in the early autumn requires a good deal of luck and persistent planning, as folks like to linger through the twilight. If there is a chill in the air, the staff will even provide a warm blanket, color-coordinated, of course.

Oftentimes, the missing component in many restaurants is the human warmth of true hospitality. First-time diners know that they are in a special place soon after allowing their senses to take in the surroundings: the vibrant sidewalk umbrellas, the tasteful decor with colorful flourishes. There are fresh-cut flowers on every table, and pink Hawaiian sea salt in the grinders nestled beside them. There’s a lot more going on here than a sidewalk café.

As downtown Winston-Salem is experiencing a renaissance, Jennifer can’t resist restlessly refining the Mozelle’s experience — changing the look of the physical menus, tweaking the table settings, and hiring a new chef.

Jay Pierce has been around the block a few times, revamping Lucky 32 in Greensboro before decamping for Charlotte to launch ROCKSALT, then returning to the Gate City to helm Traveled Farmer. With that restaurant’s untimely demise, he was a chef without a stove, until Jennifer tapped him to lead her team into the next 10 years. His arrival was trumpeted in these pages and he has not failed to bring his signature grin to the Twin Cities. As he stirs up excitement about what is to come, his fantastic flavors are already on display daily, and his vow to stay true to Mozelle’s classic dishes has quickly garnered a following in his new home.

One thing to remember: the space is cozy. That means planning ahead is necessary to secure a table, especially when the weather is perfect for al fresco dining. Check out the website for happenings and follow them on Instagram for perfectly timed posts about lunch specials and reminders of upcoming wine dinners.

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