By Jessica Isaacs
Looking for a local restaurant to call your favorite? There’s a new café in town that’s ready to take you in!
After 17 years of service to the High Country, the folks behind Reid’s Catering Co. in Banner Elk bring you Reid’s Café, which boasts a beautiful new space, a great wine list and an ever-changing menu that features all of your traditional homemade favorites.
Owner Tina Houston has been serving up great service and even better food at events throughout the High Country for nearly two decades now. It’s an exciting, fast-paced, always-on-the-go career, but she loves every minute of it.
“We have been very fortunate because we get to work with a lot of nonprofits, and we love doing that. Destination weddings in the High Country are a majority of our business,” Houston said. “Basically, we get to go to a party every week for work, so it’s an exciting job. There’s not a lot of downtime in the season, and we’re full tilt right now, for sure.”
While she’s always had her heart set on her catering business, fate seemed to give her the opportunity to open up a restaurant of her own.
“I wanted to build a new commercial kitchen, and the location was super fitting and appropriate to add a café space at the front door,” Houston said. “I had not set out to build a café, but it was just time to put together the kitchen that I wanted and this space was available.”
After leasing the new property, located at 4004 Highway 105 S. Suite 8 in Sugar Mountain, Houston took on the challenge of transforming the space into her dream kitchen, on top of their hectic catering season.
“It took about six months and it was a full-time effort, which was a little tricky being in the middle of the season,” Houston said. “It would have been nice to do it in the winter, but that’s not how it worked out. The timing wasn’t perfect, but something’s you can’t plan.”
The new space features reclaimed barn wood, white concrete countertops, hand painted lettering, tables from Big Oak Woodworks, vibrant paintings by Jerry Cantwell and colors of the sea, clouds, forest, stone, sky and sunset.
To help operate the café, Houston added some new players to her team. She brought on Chef Alek Schober, who’s career history includes time spent at both The New Public House and The Gamekeeper, two of Blowing Rock’s most popular establishments.
Husband-and-wife duo Ben Jackson and Alexis Ostrowski also joined the team as chef and manager of the café, respectively, both coming from the Wythe Hotel and Diner in Brooklyn, New York.
“My husband and I just moved here from New York City,” Ostrowski said. “We have worked together for over 15 years and Reid’s is the fourth restaurant we’ve worked in together.”
Ostrowski said combing hers and Jackson’s experience with Houston’s and Schober’s creates something truly unique and high quality.
“I think it just makes for a really warm hospitable experience with really fantastic food,” Ostrowski said.
The café officially opened on Sept. 21 and operates from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. Monday through Saturday.
So what’s for lunch? Check out the new Reid’s website for daily menu updates or stop by and see for yourself.
“We have a chalkboard that we write the menu on every morning that depends on what the chef has available, what’s the freshest and what they’re really excited about,” Ostrowski said. “We take a picture of the menu and post it on the website. We serve pastries, soup, really nice elegant salads, sandwiches and some side dishes. Occasionally, we’ll do a chef’s dinner, but we’re still developing our menu on that.”
A couple of times a week, you can even call in your order for a whole roasted chicken, which comes with two sides for $24, pick it up on your way home and have easy, delectable dinner ready to go.
“We’ve had a good response with our roasted chickens. We season them and basically started to age them so the meat becomes really tender and succulent, then we roast them to order,” Ostrowski said. “You can call in between 11 a.m. and 3 p.m. and pick it up between 5-6 p.m. It’s perfect for two people with some leftovers, or you could add a few more sides and feed four people.”
While you’re there, shop specialty items from vendors like Counter Culture Coffees, Kermit Lynch Wines, Mazama ceramic wares, Toyo-Sasaki Glassware, Bellocq Tea Atelier, Beehouse Teapots, Diner Journal, Auntie Oti, Pallares-Solsona knifemakers, Gather Journal, J.Q. Dickinson Salt Works and more.
Nestled in between Banner Elk, Linville, Foscoe and the Grandfather communities, Reid’s Café gives you the best in homemade dining from experienced local professionals in an interesting, inviting atmosphere.
Stop by for lunch this week and see for yourself what Reid’s has to offer. The café is open from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. Mondays through Saturdays.