So many people west of Winston-Salem are used to driving into the city to dine in restaurants, but that may be beginning to change.
As demographics have changed, more and more people have populated such towns as Clemmons, Lewisville and Advance. But the restaurant scene has been slow to catch up. Sure, there are plenty of fast-food restaurants, diners and lower-priced casual spots. But more upscale places — somewhere to go for a nice steak, fresh fish or a decent wine list — have been harder to find.
In the last couple of years, a few restaurants have opened to fill that niche. Davie Tavern in Advance is just one of those.
Davie Tavern opened in July 2016 in a shopping-center space that for years was a Jimmy the Greek. And it’s starting to gain a following.
Allan Coats, who co-owned Jimmy the Greek with Steve Hondos, saw that the landscape was changing and decided to try something new.
He and Hondos enlisted a third partner, Corey Owens, and gutted their restaurant to create a new concept from scratch.
“That restaurant had just run its course,” Coats said of Jimmy the Greek. “It can be very hard to keep people out here. They like to go ‘over the bridge,’ as people say, to Winston-Salem.
Like the folks who opened the nearby Quanto Basta and Tanglewood Pizza Co., Coats and his co-owners are trying to reverse that decades-old trend of going “over the bridge” to the “big city” for anything resembling upscale dining.
Davie Tavern is a full-service restaurant. Yes, it has full ABC permits, but it’s family-friendly, too.
Coats hired Mack Parker to run the kitchen. Parker grew up in Winston-Salem and has worked in a handful of popular restaurants. But it’s his last gig, as chef of Diamondback Grill in Winston-Salem, that doubtlessly interested Coats. Diamondback is known for its upscale, casual, fresh food. And Parker is bringing that same approach to Davie Tavern.
“They told me I had a clean slate,” Parker, 45, said of developing the menu at Davie Tavern.
“We make everything from scratch, except things like ketchup,” Parker said. “We dry age our steaks. I get a special blend for burgers — short rib, chuck and brisket. And we’re known for our desserts.”
The menu is more casual at lunch than at dinner, but both are customer-friendly enough to appeal to a wide variety of diners — which is just what the market demands.
Even at dinner, people can get an $8 chicken wrap or a $25 14-ounce, dry-aged rib-eye. Similarly, Davie serves wings and burgers, but also crab cakes, bone-in pork chops and Parker’s signature brown-sugar tarragon salmon.
“We do a little bit of everything,” Parker said. “I call it Southern American cuisine with a flair.”
Parker dreams of gradually tweaking the menu to add more creative dishes, but right now he isn’t trying to get too fancy or reinvent the wheel. He doesn’t need to. All he needs to do is offer people what they’ve been driving to Winston-Salem to get for years.