By Jesse Wood
Dec. 18, 2014. Located beside Fat Cats in downtown Boone, the Rivers Street Ale House, which held its first soft opening on Thursday night, is going to be a happening place for years to come.
While a number of businesses have come and gone in the past several years since the Mellow Mushroom closed down on Rivers Street, Justin Davis, owner of the Town Tavern in Blowing Rock, and Joanna Sahm and Olga Esterson, owners of Café Portofino, hope to continue their success as local restaurant and bar owners with River Street Ale House, a joint venture between the entrepreneurs.
When the space housing the now-defunct Rivers Street Deli became available, Davis, Sahm and Esterson met in the poolroom of Café Portofino and talked for about 15 minutes, eventually agreeing to go into business together and transform the space into a sports bar.
“Our main goal is to create a restaurant and bar that people feel comfortable coming into. The quality of food is good, it’s clean, the atmosphere is nice, servers friendly and service is good, I feel like if we accomplish those things, we’ll be successful,” Davis said.
With their hands full operating the Town Tavern in Blowing Rock and Café Portofino across the street, or as Esterson said, “their babies,” on full-time basis, the three were happy to share staff and the responsibilities of the new enterprise, which they hope to franchise in college towns from the mountains to the beach.
“We’ll stop when our toes hit the sand,” Davis said. “Hopefully this place gets a good welcome from all of the locals and college students, young professionals as well as your families. It’s a place for everybody.”
Esterson described the atmosphere as laidback and casual – as if you were in the living room – and a place where you can have a craft beer and some nice food, including a list of 10 craft burgers, pork tacos, deli sandwiches and more. A fine selection of liquor and beers exist, including 20 craft beers, including local brew from Appalachian Mountain Brewery and Blowing Rock Brewing Company.
Rivers Street Ale House can sit 100 people inside plus more on the patio outside. It includes one of the longest bars in the High Country at 45-foot long, sitting about 25 people at the bar alone. It also has 20 big screen TVs and will show any sport that’s on TV and/or that someone is willing to watch.
While the college students aren’t in school, the owners will continue with soft openings to work out the kinks and finalize the procedures of operation. It’s now open at 4 p.m. Monday through Friday and at noon on the weekends.
The Rivers Street Ale House is located at 957 Rivers Street in downtown Boone. For more information, click to 828-264-8100 or click to the bar’s Facebook page here.