By SCOTT BAUGHMAN
When George Carter opened up his real estate business in Lake Lure, he looked out the window of his new office and just knew the space was also ripe for a new bar and restaurant garden experience.
“We leased the real estate office and the restaurant space back in February this year, when it was all just grass,” Carter said. “We renovated it to be the outdoor restaurant and I did almost all the work myself.”
That effort included quite a bit of landscaping and even constructing an outdoor fountain just in time for the grand opening weekend on August 31. The entire project cost over $100,000 but for Carter it was almost a labor of love to not only ingratiate himself to his new community, but as the culmination of a more than 15-year career in the restaurant industry.
“I moved here from San Diego where I had worked in real estate, but also spent a while in the restaurant industry. I worked at a wine bar called Island Pasta in California for more than 10 years,” he said. “Some of my best memories were doing that stuff. And I always wanted to recreate it. The space there was beautiful and I saw that potential here with this amazing canopy of trees.”
The space just off Memorial Highway at 111 Resort Lane in Lake Lure had previously been a campground in the 1970s and was more recently a former veterinarian office. Now it shares the driveway entrance with Grey Hawk and Carter’s real estate office Dwell Realty Group.
“So far the spot has lived up to my vision of the potential,” Carter said. “Business has been great. Everyone who lives within walking distance comes each weekend – and that’s about 20 houses. They come and hang out around the fire, and I can be with some of my real estate clients,” he said. “It is so comfortable in a visiting with friends in the backyard kind of way.”
Fare offered by the kitchen includes hot sandwiches, soups and salads and charcuterie boards. The menu was revamped in October for more Autumn and winter fare including over 50 wines by the bottle.
“We have wine ranging from price in $20 a bottle for local wines to over $400 for bottles from France, so something for everyone,” Carter said. “We also have over 15 different beers we sell by the bottle, but nothing on tap. Our theme is very garden related and we garnish our plates with flowers. We have a blue cocktail dyed by the blue flower from which it gets its name.”
Carter says he has learned from working at almost every restaurant in the Lake Lure and Chimney Rock areas as a server that he can lead by example for his staff at Grey Hawk.
“My staff has been really surprised that I don’t get upset with them when things hit the fan,” he said. “Because I have the income from the real estate business I don’t pass down a bunch of pressure to the workers. They’re paid well and feel supported. This is my first time being in the side of management and being a restaurant owner. I worry sometimes if we will be able to pay the bills? And it just comes through. Keeping the focus on the customer experience and our workers instead of just worrying about the bottom line I think is the key.”
Customers have been curious as to what the mainly outdoor venue will do during the colder winter months and Carter says they’ve planned ahead to put heaters on the outdoor porch and keep a fire going.
“We have three fire pits and huge amounts of outdoor seating,” he said. “It’ll be a sweet, warm haven for locals to gather in a smaller environment. We will still have live music with guitar and violin and people can still have dinner and drinks.”