By Tzar Wilkerson
In the heart of the parking opportunities that is downtown Boone, the gravel lot adjacent to Vidalia is now open for parking for Vidalia customers. “In the past, we’ve had use of the parking lot in the evenings. With a little negotiation with our landlord we were able to secure a majority of the spots for some daytime use as well.” said Vidalia coproprietor Alyce Ratchford, “Everybody knows what the parking situation is like downtown, and how quickly it can fill. Our landlord was open to us being able to have those spaces in a more full-time capacity. So that’s how it all kinda came about.”
The acquisition of the lot will not only give Vidalia customers a reliable place to park during Vidalia’s hours – Alyce says it will give the restaurant a flexibility that they didn’t have previously: “We are offering – and have had a few groups for – private lunches on Tuesdays and Wednesdays (when we are not open for regular lunch service), so that’s also a possibility now that there’s parking for an event such as that.”
Alyce described the parking lot’s allotments and schedules: “It’s about 20-some odd spaces, I would say. There’re a few spaces [our landlord] rents out during the day, but the rest of the lot is ours to use. It’s pretty heavily signed, so the spaces are clearly marked ‘Parking for Vidalia’ or ‘Wild Craft’, that sort of thing. And after 5 pm the entire lot becomes ours again.” With parking at a premium, parking lot usage is important for any downtown business, and for a sit-down restaurant like Vidalia, parking after 5pm is sure to be appreciated by the dinner crowd.
Vidalia Restaurant & Wine Bar
For those who’ve never visited Vidalia, Alyce explained the restaurant’s atmosphere: “We call Vidalia ‘Creative American’, so we’re thinking high-quality NC products – the produce, the meats, cheeses, the sauces, at this point you can get a lot of stuff here in NC – in a more relaxed dining atmosphere. I wouldn’t go so far as to say that it’s a distinct ‘fine dining’ atmosphere, but we do try to give a high level of service. People call and ask ‘Well, we’re in our hiking clothes; is that suitable?’, and typically my answer is ‘If you’re wearing clothes, we’re happy to have you!’. So it’s for everyone, it’s not just a special occasion kind of place. We try to have you in for whatever reason.” If Vidalia’s broad appeal, upscale-yet-affordable business model, and gorgeous interior are responsible for the restaurant’s popularity, then their quality food and wine play at least as much of a role.
The head chef at Vidalia, Alyce’s husband Samuel Ratchford, is making constant menu innovations with new specials. According to Alyce, “We’ve created some different specials. On Tuesday evenings, Sam is doing a 3-course Chef’s tasting menu. It’s usually around $30 and you get 3 courses that he changes each week. We are offering some wine specials to pair with that as well. On Wednesdays – we’re calling it Shuck-It Wednesday – we’re bringing in NC oysters which you can get raw or oven-baked. We have some Hendrick’s gin-and-tonics specials, some bubbles specials, and we have chardonnay specials because all of those drinks pair well with oysters.” A dynamic menu coupled with carefully selected wine pairings keep meals at Vidalia an exciting, unique experience every time.
“Lunch hours now are Thursday, Friday, and Saturday from 11-2:30. Dinner is Tuesday through Sunday, 5-9:30. Of course we have brunch still on Sunday mornings, and that’s 10:30-2.” Alyce said of Vidalia’s summer hours, “We’re hoping, moving forward, that those will be the hours through the winter as well.” With the added parking spaces, prospective diners need not hesitate to make a trip to Vidalia to sample their offerings.
Pictures from Vidalia Restaurant in Downtown Boone: