Dining Out: North Carolina’s ‘Gate City’
By: The Week
April 28, 2023
By: The Week
April 28, 2023
Print Works Bistro Attached to the eco-friendly Proximity Hotel, this “lavish” white-curtained, high-ceilinged restaurant “manages to avoid feeling stuffy,” making it the place to go for special occasions. Seasonal offerings might include seared scallop risotto with goat cheese and leeks, while weekend brunch, “especially on Print Works’ patio.” is also worth the trip. 702 Green Valley Road
By: Steve Doyle, Fox8
February 2, 2023
GREENSBORO, N.C. (WGHP) – We learned last year that Greensboro isn’t very highly regarded among the best cities for singles or the best cities to celebrate Valentine’s Day. Now we know, though, that neither is because of an absence of romantic restaurants.
WalletHub, the financial services site that crunches data and creates rankings, took the measure of the Gate City and found there were 163 better cities for single people and 52 better places to celebrate Valentine’s Day.
Those lists haven’t been updated for 2023 – although we know that North Carolina ranks at No. 15 among best states for singles – but we wonder if the image of Greensboro might be improved by the presence of two of the 100 most romantic restaurants in the nation.
The dining site Open Table created that list based on reviews posted on its site and included Green Valley Grill and Print Works Bistro, two fine dining establishments on Green Valley Road, as the only two restaurants in all of North Carolina.
That’s also the same number of restaurants as Open Table cited from the food mecca of New Orleans and twice as many as ultra-chic San Francisco.
Open Table says of its list and Valentine’s Day: “Food is its own love language, but when it’s served in a cozy room or a candlelit booth? Guaranteed fireworks. For those looking for a quintessential Valentine’s Day dining experience, start with the most romantic restaurants across the US, created by analyzing over 13 million reviews.”
Its top 100 includes nine from the Phoenix area, eight from Las Vegas and in Hawaii, six in greater Los Angeles and five in the vicinity of New York City.
Green Valley Grill, located in the O Henry Hotel, and Print Works Bistro, on the first floor of the Proximity Hotel, about a half-mile east, are not only neighbors but also corporate cousins.
Both restaurants are owned by the employee-controlled Quaintance-Weaver Restaurants and Hotels, which also owns Lucky 32 Southern Kitchen locations in Greensboro and Cary.
Both are known for their eclectic menus of American cuisine, their not-out-of-reason prices and their white-linen service. They also both have been widely honored.
Open Table recently listed Green Valley Grill among its top 100 “Most Beloved Restaurants in America,” based on its more than 7,800 reviews.
Both were named among Open Table’s top 100 best outdoor dining restaurants in America in July and the top 100 best restaurants for a date in America in August. They’ve also been recognized by Wine Spectator’s Award for Excellence 2022.
In evaluating the romantic eateries, Open Table included this about Green Valley: “Always a special treat to dine at Green Valley Grill. Food and service were great.”
About Print Works Bistro: “This is the place to go for Brunch! Why? The overall experience is always delightful and never disappoints.”
By: Nancy McLaughlin, News & Record
August 19, 2022
GREENSBORO — When it comes to date night and outdoor dining, two local employee-owned restaurants are among the 100 best nationally — at both.
Print Works Bistro and the Green Valley Grill, part of the Quaintance-Weaver Hotels and Restaurant group, made lists compiled by OpenTable, a restaurant reservation service that tracks ratings by diners. OpenTable also matches diners with restaurants based on their needs and occasions.
Green Valley Grill, with its exposed bricks and dramatically high ceilings, and a leafy patio inspired by hidden urban gardens found throughout Europe, has a wood-fired rotisserie and grill. Print Works Bistro at Greensboro’s Proximity Hotel, which has picturesque patio dining with a passing stream and buffer to a nearby busy thoroughfare, offers classical and modern versions of French bistro dishes created with locally sourced food.
Reviews can only be made by diners who have eaten at the restaurant.
OpenTable looked at millions of those reviews before finding the Top 100 places for each list.
“Met an old friend for lunch,” read one Green Valley Grill review. “Nice and quiet to catch up. Server was very nice and did not hover. Made good recommendations. Our food was excellent and served perfectly. Will absolutely be back.”
Among other places featured in “100 Best Restaurants for a Date in America” are Battista’s Hole in the Wall in Las Vegas and the Twisted Tree Steakhouse in St. Louis. Only one other North Carolina restaurant, Rey’s in Raleigh, made that list.
According to OpenTable, one of the greatest stressors for date night or cozy event is picking the right spot.
“If we had time to celebrate, we might,” said company co-founder Dennis Quaintance with a laugh. “They say you are only as good as the last meal you served.”
While Quaintance can’t exactly have a favorite between the two restaurants, he admits he and wife Nancy start date nights at Print Works Bistro with the calamari.
He says that having the spotlight locally is good news for the city and all that it offers.
And he loves hearing that guests would specifically note these properties.
Reviews show diners come back for more.
“My fiancé and I came here as a first date and decided to come back for our first year anniversary,” read a Print Works Bistro review. “Our server Willy did a fantastic job and provided great recommendations thank you for helping make it a night for us to remember.”
While the Quaintances continue to lead the group of restaurants and hotels, they and co-founder Mike Weaver sold their interest in Quaintance-Weaver to the Quaintance-Weaver Employee Stock Ownership Plan Trust.
“We’re sort of all in this together,” said employee-owner Theresa Martin, who has the titles design team manager and people department communications manager. But in a company this size, she sometimes even works at the restaurants, carrying food from the kitchen or ushering guests to their seats.
She previously worked for four years at one of the hotels. The smallest details — experience, quality of service, food, ambiance — are part of the company DNA, she said.
The two restaurants made the 2022 list for great outdoor dining places in July, with Asheville’s Sunset Terrace at Omni Grove Park Inn the only other restaurant in the state to make that list. The Green Valley Grill has previously been named a great place for brunch and Print Works Bistro was the most booked restaurant in Greensboro in 2017.
“I think ownership changes your perspective,” Martin said, “and our guests can feel that.”
OpenTable’s List: 100 Best Restaurants for a Date in America
Triad Business Journal: These Triad Restaurants Rank Nationally for Dates, Meetups and Meetings
By: Nakylah Carter, Triad Business Journal
July 19, 2022
A Greensboro restaurant group has landed two spots on OpenTable’s 2022 edition of the nation’s 100 Best Restaurants for Outdoor Dining.
Print Works Bistro and Green Valley Grill, owned by Quaintance-Weaver Restaurants and Hotels, both made the list. Open Table’s list was curated from 13.6 million verified diner reviews between May 2021 and April 2022 and features restaurants from 25 states.
“We looked at outdoor dining not as just a place to put some tables and parts and people, but we decided we would design what we call outdoor rooms and each location has its own sort of design intent,” said Dennis Quaintance, CEO of Quaintance-Weaver Restaurants and Hotels.
Print Works Bistro’s outdoor space at the Proximity Hotel is the Creekside Terrace, and Green Valley Grill’s outside area at the O.Henry Hotel is the courtyard. The company also owns Lucky 32 in Greensboro that features an outdoor veranda.
Green Valley Grill and Print Works features shading and discrete overhead fans to help customers stay comfortable and to keep the bugs away from the food.
“We’re constantly working on the gardens adjacent to these areas,” Quaintance said. “I personally think that getting to dine outdoors in an environment that is carefully considered is great.”
Quaintance told TBJ that the company, which is 100% employee owned, was “delighted” to be on the list.
“The Triad is so tiny. I mean there are over 300 million people in the United States and less than 1 million here. It’s improbable that even one, let alone two, restaurants would be featured on the list,” he told TBJ.
“I think Greensboro, High Point and Winston-Salem are often sort of under appreciated, wonderful communities and to be able to have someone in Charlotte or Raleigh read that there are two restaurants in Greensboro it’s like, we do some fun stuff up this way too.”
Nationwide, the number of restaurants listing outdoor dining spaces grew exponentially, according to OpenTable, a platform that connects over 1 billion people with restaurants annually and provides software that helps restaurants with reservations, payment, reviews, operations and many other things.
Two other North Carolina restaurants made the list — The Oyster Rock Waterfront Seafood in Calabash and Sunset Terrace at Omni Grove Park Inn in Asheville.
“Outdoor dining played a major role in buoying the restaurant industry over the last few years, and restaurants took note – whether adding, expanding or elevating their offerings,” said Susan Lee, Chief Growth Officer for OpenTable. “Offering outdoor dining is now a key part of restaurants’ business, and we’re happy to see that diners continue to embrace it.”
California held the most restaurants on the list with 37.
By Chris Burritt, Business North Carolina
Photos by Stacey Van Berkel
Edgar Lujan, right, has worked for three Quaintance-Weaver properties since 1998. He now is a server at Print Works Bistro
Back in 1978, Sister Sledge’s “We Are Family’’ reverberated through Dennis Quaintance’s first restaurant in Greensboro. Franklin’s Off Friendly had just opened, and the disco music was intended to pump up the waitstaff.
A year ago, Quaintance dusted off the ’70s hit for an even bigger employee gathering. He and his partners had decided to sell their company, Quaintance-Weaver Restaurants & Hotels, operator of some of Greensboro’s best-known upscale establishments. The O.Henry Hotel is attached to the Green Valley Grill, while Print Works Bistro adjoins another boutique hotel, the Proximity. Lucky 32 Southern Kitchen operates two restaurants, one in Greensboro and the other in Cary, after closing eateries in Winston-Salem and Raleigh about nine years ago.
Quaintance, 60, was planning for the future — and not just his own. Rebuffing queries from larger hospitality companies wanting to buy the businesses — if they had followed that course, the partners could have pocketed a higher valuation, he says — Quaintance and his partners had something different in mind.
One morning last November, after the Sister Sledge tune had revved up the standing-room-only crowd of employees, Quaintance said they were now the owners of the company he and his wife, Nancy, had started 28 years earlier with Greensboro real-estate developer and business investor Mike Weaver. The three had sold the business to an employee stock ownership plan, with the trust borrowing 100% of the transaction’s value. The owners collected no money at closing, while no bank financing was involved.
Authorized by Congress in 1974, ESOPs enable employees to own the companies where they work. The upside for workers is that company profits are plowed into employee retirement plans, while avoiding conventional corporate income tax.
“Every time we do something to make the company worth $1 more, we all share in it,’’ says Quaintance, who heads operations, while Nancy is part of the marketing, sales, operations and culinary teams. “Every time the value of the company goes down, we all share in that. Our interests are 100% aligned.’’
ESOPs remain rarities in a business world dominated by closely held, family-owned companies. Only one of the 100 largest ESOPs in the U.S. is based in North Carolina: hardwood-veneer and plywood maker Columbia Forest Products Inc., of Greensboro, according to the nonprofit National Center for Employee Ownership. Many public companies encourage workers to hold shares. But the center defines ESOPs as businesses in which at least half of all employees are eligible to participate in plans — and those employees collectively hold at least 50% ownership.
To take part, workers must be 18 years or older, have worked for the company for more than a year and gotten paid for at least 1,000 hours yearly. Vesting occurs after three years. (Weaver can’t participate in the ESOP because he’s not an employee.) How quickly retirement benefits accumulate for Quaintance-Weaver’s 620 employees — from managers to porters, cooks to housekeepers — depends upon the company’s profitability. The more money generated by operations, the quicker the debt shrinks, leaving more money for employees’ golden years.
Among the first people Dennis Quaintance, right, met after moving to Greensboro in 1978 were Mike Weaver, a civic-minded real-estate developer and investor, and Nancy King, who later became his wife. Weaver backed Quaintance as he built a hospitality company that includes the Proximity Hotel, which opened in 2007.
Seller financing of ESOPs is a rarity among business owners, who typically prefer selling to the highest bidder rather than risking their own retirement savings on an employee plan, says Dale Gillmore, principal of Make An Impact Consulting Inc. in Cornelius. Much of the net worth of most owners of privately held companies is tied up in their businesses, and their ownership stakes typically represent most of a company’s value.
Owners typically don’t want to wager that a company’s value can be sustained or increase, says Gillmore, who wasn’t involved in the Greensboro deal. Weaver and the Quaintance family “are betting on themselves and the employees to maintain and improve the company’s culture. It’s a gamble they’re willing to take. They are not getting rich with an ESOP.’’
Selling the business to an independent party “would have broken my heart,” Quaintance says. The couple’s 19-year-old twins, Dennis and Kathleen, are not interested in working for the company. “We sold the business, but we did not sell the culture. In fact, we enhanced the culture.’’
To be sure, the trust bought the restaurant and hotel operating company, not the real estate. The couple, Weaver and three other partners own both hotel properties and lease them to the operating company. They are valued at more than $32 million, county records show. Separately, Quaintance and Weaver own the real estate for Green Valley Grill, Print Works Bistro and the Lucky 32 locations.
Like other employees, the Quaintances are entitled to ESOP retirement units, akin to shares in a company. But annual awards of retirement units are capped for highly compensated managers because federal laws — enforced by the Department of Labor and Internal Revenue Service — prohibit the use of ESOPs as tax-avoidance schemes. Plans are intended to favor younger employees who stay with the company for many years.
Quaintance started working in the hospitality business at 15 as a housekeeper’s assistant at a Missoula, Mont., hotel. After high school, he worked at several hotels in the Northwest before moving to Greensboro in 1979. Sipping a sparkling water on the patio of the Proximity Hotel, a cool space shaded by magnolias and tucked between the tall darkened windows and white brick of the hotel and Print Works Bistro, he asks a server to turn up the volume of a Roberta Flack song streaming over the sound system. Walking past a shrub, he plucks a stray dead leaf and tosses it out of sight.
Quaintance’s meticulous style stretches back to his early days in the industry. Just weeks after partnering with Bill Sherrill to open Franklin’s Off Friendly 38 years ago, he spotted a college-age waiter goofing off while emptying ash trays. Quaintance grabbed the waiter — this writer — by the necktie and told him loafing on the job was unacceptable. I worked there in the summer of 1979 and the following Christmas break. Mary Lacklen, also a former server at Franklin’s, is now director of Red Oak Brewery’s beer hall in eastern Guilford County, opening later this year. “He always believed in training his staff and setting them up for success,’’ says Lacklen. “He has a methodical approach to everything he does.’’
During his stint at Franklin’s, Quaintance met Weaver, a regular customer, and his future wife, Nancy King, who worked at the restaurant while on Christmas break from Cornell University. After leaving the restaurant in 1981, Quaintance had stints in business planning, wine importing and managing chain restaurants. Nancy worked for Marriott Corp. in Charlotte.
On a trip to Europe in the mid-’80s they decided it was time to plan their future. Riding a train on the Brenner Pass between Italy and Austria, they settled on three possible choices: “Mr. and Mrs. Hotel and Restaurant” in Greensboro; “barefoot and pregnant” in New Mexico, where Nancy would teach and Dennis would buy, fix and resell airplanes; or move to Europe, with Nancy working for Marriott in London or Amsterdam.
Both wrote “Greensboro” on slips of paper. “It sounded so typical,” Quaintance recalls, “but why should we sacrifice what’s exciting to us?”
Lucky 32 was Quaintance-Weaver’s entry into restaurants in 1989.
Returning to North Carolina, Quaintance joined the Greensboro-based Tripps chain of casual, restaurants. By 28, he was overseeing five sites. He then circled back to Weaver, asking for a $500,000 loan to start his own restaurant. Instead, Weaver proposed a 50-50 partnership, with Quaintance running their first restaurant venture, the Lucky 32 on Westover Terrace in Greensboro. It debuted in 1989.
Almost a decade later, they opened the O.Henry Hotel, named and designed after the first modern Greensboro hotel that was built in 1919 and razed 80 years later. Both were named for native son William Sydney Porter, who in the early 1900s wrote short stories with surprise endings under the pen name O. Henry.
The Proximity Hotel, which opened in 2007, is named after one of Greensboro’s first textile mills. One hundred rooftop solar panels give a nod to a modern-day achievement: It was the nation’s first hotel to receive the highest environmentally friendly honors from the U.S. Green Building Council. To retain its uniqueness, Quaintance has never signed a franchise agreement with a major hotel company. The goal is to provide a memorable stay for travelers while also entertaining neighborhood folks, much like the old hotels that were centers of community life.
On a recent afternoon in June, Quaintance wore khaki shorts, a blue-and-white-striped shirt and sandals. The look is in keeping with his hotels, which are high-brow but comfortable with unexpected touches reflecting the CEO’s personality.
Two bikes propped inside the entrance to the Proximity Hotel are available for guests. An afternoon tea at the O.Henry attracts locals, while refurbished London taxis provide transportation for hotel guests, including complimentary rides to the company’s three restaurants. In Quaintance’s view, the ESOP is like one of those taxis: He figures to keep driving for at least a decade, unless “I notice I’m slipping, or people tell me I’m slipping, or if I lose my mojo,’’ he says. Shared ownership is a fuel additive, boosting morale and productivity that will result in more satisfied patrons.
Selling Quaintance-Weaver to employees addresses one of the biggest headaches for the hospitality industry, which has a high turnover rate: “How do you get people to stay?’’ Greensboro restaurant critic John Batchelor says. “You make it in their interest to stay by making them partners in the enterprise.’’
Given wage rates in hospitality, motivating workers is a constant challenge. Half of Quaintance-Weaver workers leave within a year, typical for the industry. Another four in 10 leave in the first four years. “If their hearts aren’t into it, we’d rather they go off and find their bliss,’’ Quaintance says. “If our dream is a 10, we’re at a six,’’ he said. “We’re still unfolding.’’
The ESOP also helps Quaintance move toward his goal of creating a meritocracy. “We don’t [care] about what your gender is, whether you are skinny or chubby, if you are black or white, gay or straight, Muslim or Christian,’’ he says. “What we care about is how you behave when you’re here. We are professionals. We don’t need to be friends. We want to be colleagues. We wind up with these amazingly rich relationships without the complications.’’
The company has expanded with two hotels in Greensboro’s Friendly Shopping Center area, including the O.Henry, which opened in 1998.
Since announcing the ESOP, Quaintance has coached CEOs of seven companies on the process. “I’m sold on ESOPs,’’ Quaintance says. “I’m big on doing whatever I can to further the notion and reality of economic justice. Don’t hear me being pious. I just think the wealth gap and its growth is not sustainable, and since we don’t seem to have a better idea than free-market democracy, we might as well do all we can to make it work.’’
How much employees will receive in retirement payouts is hard to estimate because so many variables exist, Quaintance says. He offers two scenarios: A 26-year-old employee works for the company from 2016 until retirement at age 65. If her current pay of $25,000 increases by 2.5% a year, she receives about 2.5% of her annual pay in retirement units and the value of the units increases by 2.5% yearly, her account would total about $70,000 at 65. But if the percentages double to 5%, her retirement fund might swell to around $325,000, aided by the power of compound interest.
While employees do not invest their own money into the ESOP, Quaintance-Weaver also offers a 401(k) plan that enables more retirement savings.
“We have no idea what the value of those retirement units will be in the future,’’ Quaintance says. “They could be really low; they could be significant. It all depends on how well we take care of our guests and colleagues and if we are lucky enough to have at least somewhat favorable market conditions.”
Edgar Lujan, a server at Print Works Bistro, is betting on his company’s success. The ESOP is “like a cherry on top of the cake,’’ he says. “We work at a place that enables us to pay our bills, buy a house and take care of our families. It’s hard for me to think about working for another hotel or restaurant.’’
In the 22 years since he moved to the U.S. from Mexico City, Lujan, 45, has worked in restaurants and construction, sometimes two jobs at a time. Moving to Greensboro 20 years ago, he worked initially as a dishwasher at Red Lobster.
He joined the O.Henry Hotel as a porter when it opened, then became a waiter at the adjacent Green Valley Grill. He shifted to the waitstaff of Print Works Bistro in 2007. “There is stability — that is what I love about this place,’’ Lujan says. “If you perform well, you will be successful. Having retirement, that’s awesome.’’
FOOD FOR THOUGHT
Quaintance-Weaver joins other ESOP-owned companies active in North Carolina, including Valdese-based Valdese Weavers LLC, San Francisco-based design firm Gensler; Milwaukee, Wis.-based money manager Robert W. Baird & Co.; and Omaha, Neb.-based engineering and architecture firm HDR Inc. As of 2014, 126 ESOPs were based in North Carolina, according to the Oakland, Calif.-based National Center for Employee Ownership.
The largest U.S. ESOP, Lakeland, Fla.-based Publix Super Markets Inc., entered the state in 2014 and now operates 27 stores that collectively employ more than 3,000 people. More than 80% of company shares are owned by staff, with the balance held by the founder’s family. Shares equal to about 8% of annual pay is distributed to those who have worked for the company for at least one year. Many long-term employees accrue hundreds of thousands of dollars of Publix stock over their careers, perhaps explaining why turnover is a fraction of the retail industry’s average, Fortune noted in a 2016 story. With about 1,150 stores from Florida to Virginia, the company had profit of $2 billion on revenue of $34 billion last year.
By: Glenn Hasek, Green Lodging News
March 3, 2017
If a green lodging hall of fame existed, Dennis Quaintance would certainly be in it. I first chatted with Dennis almost 10 years ago when his Quaintance-Weaver Restaurants and Hotels (QW) was building the Proximity Hotel in Greensboro, N.C. At that time the goal was LEED Gold for the 147-room property that features a solar hot water heating system on its roof and other energy-saving features. The Proximity later became the first hotel to earn the U.S. Green Building Council’s LEED Platinum level of certification. Quite an achievement.
This past fall, Dennis and the other founders of QW announced that, after 28 years of operating one of the top-rated hotel and restaurant companies in the South, they had sold 100 percent of their company to its 600+ staff members. The sale made the company one of only a few employee-owned restaurant and hotel companies in the United States and generated a lot of local media buzz. (TPI Hospitality in Willmar, Minn. is also employee owned.) “We’ve sold our interest in QW to the QW ESOP Trust because we believe that it’s the optimal way for QW to be owned and managed in the future,” Dennis said in a press release about the sale.
An Employee Stock Ownership Plan is a program that offers a company’s staff members an ownership stake in the company. This sort of ESOP is actually a trust that’s been created to purchase 100 percent of the equity in the company in order to provide retirement benefits for the company’s staff members. After one year with the company, staff members age 18 and above who work 20+ hours a week start accruing retirement units. They will be fully vested after just three years.
Even before the sale, there was a lot of evidence employees liked working for QW. More than 50 staff members at QW have been with the company more than 10 years.
Business Approach to Remain the Same
“Our priorities here at QW will remain the same,” Dennis says. “In other words, having a sincere intention to be of genuine service to our guests will stay as our company’s highest priority, with a close second priority of being of genuine service to our QW colleagues. Our third-highest priority is to be of genuine service to our owners. Now, via the ESOP, our owners are our staff members, so our second and third priorities are sort of combined!”
According to QW, the QW ESOP Trust is a natural next step for the community-based, locally owned company. It fits perfectly with QW’s Sustainable Practices Initiative, which considers how company decisions affect current and future generations, as well as their Fairness Doctrine for diversity and inclusion.
The QW ESOP trust now owns the QW operating companies, not any real estate. QW leases its restaurants and it manages the hotels for a fee. That has been the structure all along. There will not be any significant operational or leadership changes as a result of this ESOP program.
Succession planning becomes part of every company’s business strategy at some point. “Handing over the keys” has got to be much easier when you have such a talented group of employees to carry on the company’s mission. This all certainly would not have happened without the leadership of Dennis and the other QW founders: Mike Weaver and Nancy King Quaintance. A big tip of the hat to them all.
By: Perri Ormont Blumberg, CNN
August 4, 2017
(CNN) — There’s more to America’s Southern states than cities such as Nashville, Austin and New Orleans.
In fact, in recent years, so-called “second-tier” cities in the South have witnessed a massive boom in hotels, restaurants and micro-everythings.
Travel companies agree, too. “With the appeal of an all-American road trip style of travel, famous barbecue cuisine and a rich musical heritage, we’ve seen international bookings to Southern US destinations double in the last year,” says Intrepid Travel’s Director of North America Leigh Barnes.
Their “Southern Comfort USA,” trip — which weaves travelers through Savannah, Georgia; Asheville, North Carolina; the Blue Ridge Mountains and beyond — has experienced a whopping 180% growth. With diverse picks ranging from San Antonio and its old Western feel to post-industrial Birmingham, Alabama, here are our 15 favorite Southern cities flying under the radar.
Use our suggestions as a launching pad, but in true Southern style, do yourself a favor and leave the day up to wherever your Frye boots take you.
A flight of stairs below street level, SA’s River Walk offers plenty of opportunities for dining and nightlife.
Grab a stool at Ocho, where you’ll get a bird’s eye view of the water, and wash down an order of the huitlacoche quesadillas with a Havana margarita.
Keep the buzz going at Jazz, TX, where on any given night you may catch jazz, Texas Swing or salsa. The tequila-based “For Grit and Glory” cocktail with jicama juice, watermelon and spicy salt foam may be enough to persuade you to sidle up to the mic for your own rendition of the Bob Wills classic “San Antonio Rose.”
The St. Anthony feels haunted in the best way possible. After you’ve gotten the perfunctory shot with the hotel lobby’s grand piano (Billy Joel recently test drove its keys), head to the new Sky Terrace, a hip rooftop scene with live music on Saturdays.
A vibrant city perched on the San Antonio river, the bustling River Walk melds European charm with Tex-Mex flair. In addition to the eateries, there’s shopping, museums and river taxi tours.
Sure, there’s the Alamo, the historic battlegrounds for the famed fights during the Texas Revolution in 1836. But San Antonio has a lot more going for it.
Venture to the Southtown Arts District, on downtown’s southern tip, or scope out The Pearl for its brewery, events, weekly farmers market and more.
You won’t go hungry in The Magic City. Eat too much swordfish and blistered okra at Hot & Hot Fish Club; drink too many icy cold brews at revered local haunt The Garage Cafe.
Keep the soigné vibrations rolling with a meal at Highlands Bar and Grill, a beloved establishment that doles out Southern grub with a French finesse.
There’s a new food court. Pizitz Food Hall is housed in a former downtown department store, but until crowds fade out, we’d choose Carrigan’s Public House on the outskirts of downtown. There, savor fine bites and killer martinis on their comfortable roof deck.
Barbecue is its own food group here. Carlile’s BBQ has the best potato salad in town, while Dreamland Bar-B-Que churns out melt-in-your-mouth ribs.
Sleep it all off at the newly restored Redmont Hotel, with an ambiance that still tips its hat to the roaring ’20s. Meanwhile, the Westin Birmingham has a Todd English restaurant, outdoor pool and free airport shuttle.
Gaze at 56-foot Vulcan, the world’s largest cast iron statue, designed by Italian artist Giuseppe Moretti in 1904.
It’s located inside Red Mountain Park, which contains two city overlooks, three treehouses, a giant dog park and zip lining.
As one native puts it, “It’s free to go look at Vulcan’s bare ass, but you have to pay to ride the elevator up to the observation tower and gaze out on the city.”
On a more serious note, there’s plenty to see at the Birmingham Civil Rights Institute and the Alabama Jazz Hall of Fame.
Or, make your way toward Sloss Furnaces, a national historic landmark that bleeds gritty, post-industrial splendor and is completely free to visit.
For your first real meal in Greensbohemia, savor a superior Banh Mi at Bánh Mì Saigon Sandwiches & Bakery.
Or, flip a coin to decide between Crafted – the Art of the Taco and Crafted – the Art of Street Food. The grilled, stuffed avocado at Taco showcases divine intervention, as does the shrimp bibimbap at Street Food.
At Southern comfort food emperor Lucky 32, brace yourself for dreams about their signature Voodoo Sauce, a trademarked secret that’s a tangy riff on North Carolina’s barbecue glaze.
Southern standouts like flash-fried artichoke hearts and local pulled pork on johnny cakes grace the seasonal menus, and one of their Carolina vesper libations should always grace your place setting.
Siesta in style at the O. Henry Hotel, where you can enjoy traditional afternoon tea daily in the lobby, weekly live jazz performances on Thursday and Saturday and loaner bikes, should the mood strike to take the city by two wheels.
Another fine pick is The Proximity Hotel, an AAA Four Diamond property, that’s employee-owned and the first LEED Platinum “green hotel.”
There are gorgeous gardens and greenways, along with eclectic furnishings and art made in the local community.
After hitting up the tourist must-dos of the International Civil Rights Center & Museum and Guilford Courthouse National Military Park, explore GSO’s funkier side.
First, visit Hudson’s Hill to choose from heritage denim and handmade gifts. Then, catch a show at Triad Stage‘s Pyrle Theater or The Barn Dinner Theater, which has been operating since 1964.
Finally, book a one-of-a-kind tour at Replacements Ltd., the world’s largest supplier of vintage and contemporary dinnerware, crystal, silver and collectibles.
Norfolk is home to a surprisingly dynamic vegan scene (our guess is it has something to do with animal rights group PETA being headquartered here). And even if you’re not into plant-based eating, do yourself a favor and try the vegan breakfast burrito at Yorgo’s Bageldashery.
At night, book it to A.W. Shucks, a raw bar hangout for locals, or enjoy a formal experience at Todd Jurich’s Bistro that has all the perks of an upscale restaurant (stellar service, interesting menu, fun people watching) with none of the pretension.
When hunger strikes again, head to Commune.
New for 2017, locavores and those traveling from abroad will particularly appreciate the 100% Virginia-sourced menu. Everyone will drool over the sourdough doughnuts with pastry cream and strawberries.
Rest your weary feet at brand-new Hilton property The Main, which is booking up thanks to its spectacular ballroom for weddings and conferences.
Or, check into Sheraton Norfolk Waterside Hotel, where you can soak up picturesque harbor views with your she-crab soup or crab cake sandwich.
Shopping fiend? The new Simon outlets open this summer. There’s also the colossal MacArthur Center.
If you’re in the market for new ink, book it to the NEON District for Fuzion Ink Tattoo and Piercing Studio, followed by an improv show at Push Comedy Theater.
Go upscale with modern Southern fare at Knox Mason or spear your fork into hybrid dishes at Bistro by the Tracks where the duck ramen is as inspired as the traditional butcher’s crock pie.
Our pick for the South’s most important dish? Sweet P’s BBQ and Soul House, where a rack of ribs and pint of ‘tater salad is about three racks and seven pints too few.
Any vacation that starts off with an old fashioned smoked right before your eyes is likely a good one. At the newly opened TENNESSEAN Hotel’s restaurant, The Drawing Room, sling back one or two of the aforementioned elixir before wandering around Knoxville’s highly walkable downtown hub.
The Oliver Hotel is a boutique property downtown with an outstanding beverage program at its literary-inspired speakeasy, the Peter Kern Library (order the Holly Golightly or Holden Caulfield).
Studded with musical venues, funky restaurants and a weekly seasonal farmers market worth planning your trip around, the city center pulses with a contagious energy.
Sweat off gluttony by paddle boarding along the Tennessee River or head underground for bowling at Maple Hall, a boutique 11-lane setup that feels like it could just as easily be in London or Los Angeles.
Treat yourself to a meal at Red Barn Kitchen, where there’s a whole hog barbecue roast on the last Thursday of every month. With a moonshine cocktail en tote, beeline to the upbeat patio, which often hosts local musicians.
The Kentucky State Fair runs August 17-28 with live music, cooking competitions and one of the world’s most acclaimed horse shows. America’s largest indoor fair also boasts The Great American Spam Championship, if canned meat is your thing.
To try more things, frolick around town with food-centric Mint Julep Tours where the Chicken Fried, Gettin’ Pickled and Butter My Biscuit tours will all ensure you’re not hungry for the next nine years.
If you favor staying in one spot, sip on a boozy milkshake and enjoy grub like a grilled cheese that (almost) rivals dad’s at Red Herring Cocktail Lounge & Kitchen.
Book a room at the 21c Museum Hotel tucked into the heart of downtown.
If the wide open road calls, tack on a quick road trip (about an hour and a half) to Shaker Village — where you can take in 34 original Shaker structures in the country’s largest private collection of original buildings from the 1800s — and spend the night at The Inn.
There’s way more to Lou-ah-vull than bourbon, horses and fancy hats. For instance, geek out at “Hunger Games: The Exhibition” as you explore the wild world of Panem at Frazier History Museum (through September 10).
And then, of course, there’s the bourbon, horses and fancy hats. Running into all three is pretty unavoidable here. Be sure to carve out time for a drink at Lola, the fabled upstairs bar of Butchertown Grocery. It’s got a speakeasy vibe, and one hell of a drinks list.
Nosh on Mediterranean bites at Red Pump Kitchen, or get comfortable at Draft Taproom, a haven for craft beer lovers, with 60 taps (the self-serve pouring system allows patrons to pay by the ounce).
The Fitzroy and Brasserie Saison are both newcomers and have beautiful interiors, along with stellar food.
Plan your stay at The Townsman, C’ville’s newest boutique property arrival with four carefully appointed rooms in the downtown hub.
If you’re looking for something a little more isolated, treat yourself to a stay at Keswick Hall at the foot of the Blue Ridge Mountains. The 48-room manor’s gold medal goes to its prestigious golf club, though we gravitate toward the grounds’ three pools.
There are two types of people who come to Charlottesville: Dave Matthews Band superfans and everyone else. If you’re in the former group, you’re likely making your pilgrimage to Miller’s, where Matthews himself once tended bar, to Matthews’ own scenic Blenheim Vineyards and to the Pink Warehouse where the band played its first official gig.
If you’re everyone else, swap Dave stalking for visiting a presidential home like Thomas Jefferson’s estate, Monticello, or Highland, the former digs of James Monroe.
Burn off all the eating at Shenandoah National Park, where you can snake your way through quiet wooded hollows and marvel at cascading waterfalls on the same hike. Pack lunch and set up an impromptu picnic within the 200,000 protected acres, alongside songbirds, deer and more wildlife creatures.
Music lovers, head to Lucy Buffett’s (yes, sister of a certain Jimmy) LuLu’s for an energetic vibe and serious seafood platters.
Or, complete your Bushwacker (an ice cream-based cocktail that’s as popular as a vodka-soda here) crawl at Flora-Bama, a dive bar, multistage music venue, oyster bar, Sunday church and occasional rodeo rolled into one beachside locale.
Finish up with a boozy cake from Rum Sisters or play mad scientist at newly opened The Yard Milkshake Bar, and create a custom dessert. Who said a glazed doughnut or brownie isn’t a suitable milkshake topping?
Newcomers to the hotel scene include Best Western Premier-The Tides, Hotel Indigo, and in July 2017, the area welcomed Island House Hotel, a Doubletree by Hilton.
One of the most luxurious oceanfront condo options is Turquoise Place, which even has its own on-site lazy river.
Gulf State Park also offers lakefront cottages and around 500 RV sites and a tent camping area (many have swimming pools and other amenities). Newly launched Gulf Shores Travel Trailer Rentals will allow you to reserve a spot at any of the local campsites, and then drop off an RV for you and pick it up when your vacation ends.
Make as few plans as possible — you deserve it. Plop yourself on the sugar-white beaches (which rival any Caribbean treasure) with a stack of magazines or a book. If you’re so inclined, a beachside slow-flow class with Glow Yoga is a relaxing delight.
It’s hard to have a bad night at the open-air Wharf Amphitheater (acts this summer include Kenny Chesney, Green Day and Eric Church), where in true vacation mindset, your best bet is probably walking up to the box office 20 minutes before the main act takes the stage — the $20ish bleacher seats are surprisingly stellar.
Dreading the vacation hangover? Blow off some steam at family-owned hub The Factory, a giant web of interconnected trampolines, Tarzan swings, foam pits and more that lets kids of all ages bounce their way out of back-to-reality malaise.
Seafood is king here, though you can find plenty of menus graced with Southern staples like butter beans and pimento cheese, if you’re seeking more down-home cookery.
At PinPoint Restaurant, chase a radish in NC butterbean hummus or candied pecans with a Tropical Lightning IPA from Wilmington Brewing Company.
A surprising standout is Indochine, where one order of the braised Vietnamese catfish is about one too few. Meanwhile, seafood seekers can spear their fork into daily specials or slurp up oysters on the half shell dusted with bacon, pimento cheese and more.
The Graystone Inn, built in 1905 by a railroad magnate’s widow, proves a nice place to count sheep and a spot you may also recognize from “Dawson’s Creek,” “One Tree Hill” and “Sleepy Hollow,” among others.
To fulfill your veranda rocking chair fantasies, check into The Wilmingtonian, on a quiet street dripping in tree-lined perfection that’s only a short walk to the Cape Fear riverfront, a scenic strip studded with watering holes, eateries and specialty stores.
All in all, Wilmington may have that dreamy, laid-back pace, but this port town is gaining serious momentum: an Embassy Suites opens in the fall and Aloft and Westin properties are also in the works.
Don’t skip town without paying a visit to Airlie Gardens, an alternate 67-acre universe with live oak trees (it gets its name from the 472-year-old Airlie Oak), a freshwater lake and winding paths of seasonal blossoms.
Another spot to absorb Southern culture at its finest is Bellamy Mansion Museum, an 1859 architectural prize that talented tour guides will bring to life with tales of its former residents.
Start at Triplett-Day Drug Co., a family-owned soda fountain that will teleport you to the “Leave it to Beaver” glory days.
Next, scope out the eclectic Fishbone Alley, a mural hunter’s Eden, which puts you a stone’s throw away from more local artwork, bars, restaurants and live music. (Be warned: Football game days are LOUD.)
Fight the heat with a small-batch icicle from Pop Bothers with inventive flavors ranging from Dragon Fruit to Graceland (an alluring medley of peanut butter with silky bananas and flecks of salty bacon).
Also book an outing with Tasty Tours in Downtown Gulfport, a three-hour walking culinary tour that spotlights five local dining establishments.
Rest your head at The Guest House at Gulfport Landing, an endearing bed and breakfast that dates to 1906 (it was restored in 2014, so you won’t need to worry about unplugging).
Or try The Almanett Hotel & Bistro, a cozy restaurant and inn overlooking the Mississippi Sound where all six guest rooms sport a private terrace. Worth noting: The shrimp here is beyond.
Grab a ferry to one of the area’s barrier islands for a half-day excursion with Ship Island Excursions (full-day trips are also available), where you’ll be spoiled with views of Fort Massachusetts, which was built in 1866, and idyllic beaches free from mainland crowds.
Also, it’s worth considering a wintertime trip, as holiday enthusiasts will rejoice in the spectacular Gulfport Harbor Lights Winter Festival, which runs from the end of November through the start of January. Last year it drew 60,000+ guests, not only for the dazzling illuminated displays, but also for the food trucks, rides, live performances and the 40 acres of greenspace it takes up on the majestic Gulf of Mexico.
A city steeped deeply in Moravian roots (they’re a Protestant denomination with German and Czech heritage), you’ll note this the most in the Old Salem Historic District and on your taste buds; expect Moravian chicken pie, sugar cake and thin cookies (try the ginger ones). Local brewery Foothills Brewing even creates a Moravian Porter every holiday season.
A glass of wine is always in easy reach here, too. Gaining traction as the gateway to the Yadkin Valley wine region, the state’s first and largest American Viticultural Area established in 2003 and now booming with 45+ wineries.
Or, take a tour and tasting of whiskey at Broad Branch Distillery. Another solid bet is Sutler’s Spirit Co. where you’ll swear their handcrafted gin is the nectar of gods.
Beer fans, drum up a list of tasting notes (and a hangover) at Small Batch Beer Co., Wise Man Brewing and Hoots Roller Bar & Beer Co.
The first Kimpton-brand hotel in the Carolinas, Winston-Salem recently got The Cardinal Hotel, inside the historic R.J. Reynolds building. Between the adult recreation room (oddball feature: an adult-sized twisting slide), indoor basketball court and bowling alley, you won’t get bored here. Don’t miss a meal at the ground floor’s Katharine Brasserie, named after the Reynolds’ family matriarch.
Landing in spring 2018, another historic downtown structure,The Pepper Building, will be reinvented as a 75-room Hotel Indigo with two on-site restaurants.
2017 marks the 15th season of the biennial National Black Theatre Festival, which features theater workshops and international vendors market, in addition to six days of theatrical performances.
For more cultural highlights, check out the Southeastern Center for Contemporary Art and Reynolda House Museum of American Art, which is celebrating its 50th anniversary in August with the opening of “Georgia O’Keeffe: Living Modern.”
Get a sense of Fayetteville’s local pride at seasonal First Thursday fêtes, May through October. Then, ride that happy buzz along the Fayetteville Ale Trail, a self-guided journey where you can fill in your beer passport with all the breweries in Northwest Arkansas.
Want to skip the trail? Try Columbus House Brewery, that hosts a running and cycling club and welcomes dogs with open arms. Alternatively, there’s Fossil Cove Brewing Co., which attracts an Ultimate Frisbee crowd and provides a ton of crave-worthy food trucks out back. Or try Maxine’s Tap Room, a combination revived hipster pub and community music hub.
Locals flock to Hugo’s , a mainstay since 1977, where the deep-fried potato skins are worth every calorie. For lighter fare, try Greenhouse Grille and marvel at how the hell they made Brussels sprouts taste so good (hint: frying them with pickled peppers and apple vinaigrette helps).
Waking up to the awe-inspiring Ozark Mountains has never looked better than at The Chancellor Hotel, and if your travels lean romantic, book your stay at the Inn at Carnall Hall, a lovely mansion that was once a University of Arkansas Residence Hall.
If you want to wallow in country vibes, choose Pratt Place Inn, a rustic and inviting getaway on 140 acres.
To quote a native, “Fayetteville is this lovely Southern and Midwestern mix where the Bible Belt, SEC football, back-to-the-land hippies, Walton (the family behind Walmart) money and university professors all meet up.”
Recently, Fayetteville has been making headlines for the mountain biking trails throughout the region. And cyclists will be delighted to hit the Razorback Regional Greenway, a 36-mile trail that connects six cities in the area, with plenty of attention-grabbing vistas. But if pedaling isn’t for you, get a dose of nature with an hour drive to Kings River Falls for a hike and pristine watering hole views.
History buffs will appreciate a visit to The Clinton House Museum, the former first couple’s first home together stacked with memorabilia and a beautiful garden (they were married in the living room).
To end the night, leave self-consciousness at the door and join the square dance at Backspace, a quirky performance hall.
At Andy’s Flour Power, a croissant or thick french toast with nuts, strawberries and powdered sugar is the way to go for breakfast. Even the Greek salads come loaded with crab meat and juicy Gulf shrimp at celebrated restaurant Capt. Anderson’s, and you (or the kids) will never tire of the ritual cannon blasting at the nightly sunset celebrations at Schooners, which bills itself as “The Last Local Beach Club.”
Perched on a 27-mile strip of sugar-white sand beach where the Gulf of Mexico and St. Andrew Bay come together, you’ll find more old-school Southern charm here than Miami-style glitz. We love the quiet west end of the beach and the spacious, airy Carillon Beach Rentals that also boasts five private pools, restaurants and a spa within a private community.
After a $30 million renovation, Sheraton Bay Point Resort really left no detail unaddressed, from the private beach area to all 36 of the holes on the Nicklaus Design golf course.
Put the smartphone down and feast your eyes on the natural wonders at St. Andrews State Park — if time allows, tack on snorkeling or kayaking — especially the two nature trails that weave you through a smattering of coastal plant species.
For a more relaxing encounter with nature, set out on a 55-foot catamaran with Paradise Adventures.
Down by the bayou, it’s difficult to meet a meal you don’t like. You’re dining in the Crawfish Capital of the World, in which the yearly Crawfish Festival in May draws hundreds of thousands of hungry and thirsty visitors.
Revel in the liquor-soaked Zydeco brunches at Buck & Johnny’s, then enjoy a flawlessly prepared gumbo at Chez Jacqueline. You’re in Cajun country, so while the service may be slow, the homespun food will be well worth the growling stomach while you wait.
End the day by dancing your cares away at Whiskey River in nearby Henderson, where the proverbial levee never runs dry.
Book a room at The Juliet in neighboring Lafayette (about 9 miles away) or stay in town at the Maison Des Amis, a Caribbean-Creole property which has a spot on the National Registry of Historic Homes.
Another excellent option to call home is Maison Madeleine, where you can take part in cooking classes and bass fishing.
If you or members of your party are antiquers, Lagniappe Antiques Market, spread over 17,000 square feet, is a must-see.
Meanwhile, nearby Lake Martin has made the Audubon Society’s list of top 10 bird watching spots in the United States.
Say cheers at The Dark Corner Distillery, a craft microdistillery with moonshine as good as your brother-in-law’s.
Dine at Smoke on the Water restaurant, a “saucy Southern tavern” where more cornbread stuffing is always the correct answer. (As is doubling up on the fried bourbon bread pudding.)
The Swamp Rabbit Inn is a refreshingly chic bed and breakfast that’s two blocks from its namesake Swamp Rabbit Trail, an 18-mile bike trail. Or, reserve your room at Aloft Greenville Downtown, close to downtown’s shops and restaurants.
Ride your Reedy Rides bike rental loaner around town or please your inner speed demon at LeMans Karting Greenville, where you can drag your European karts up to 40 mph on a 750-foot long road course.
One day, slot in time to hit up Falls Park on the Reedy, which has beautiful gardens and trails.
Perri Ormont Blumberg is New York City-born and -based writer. She’s a graduate of Columbia University and the Natural Gourmet Institute culinary school. Follow her on Twitter @66PerriStreet.
By: John Brasier, Triad Business Journal
May 10, 2017
Where does CEO Dennis Quaintance get all the custom furnishings in his company’s O.Henry and Proximity hotels or his Lucky 32 Southern Kitchen, Green Valley Grill or Print Works Bistro dining establishments?
Not from a wholesaler or vendor. From chairs, tables, cabinets and mirrors to lampshades, coat hooks and painting screws, Greensboro-based Quaintance-Weaver’s in-house craft guild designs and produces the unique furnishings and specialty items that help set the luxury hotels and upscale restaurants apart.
But here’s the kicker: Not only are the furnishings custom-made; often, they’re significantly less expensive to make than they would be to buy from someone else.
As an example, Quaintance pointed to refinished countertops at Proximity done by the craft guild that would have cost “three times more” if done outside the company.
“Bottom line, we’re finding we can build things that are unique and more durable,” Quaintance said. “The overall mission of the craft guild is to supply superior products at less cost. Most hotel owners just buy.”
Founded after Promixity opened late in 2007, the guild produces most of the furnishings and decorative items for the company’s hotels and restaurants out of a workshop on East Lindsay Street.
Led by general manager Jeff Kennedy, the guild includes a handful of full-time QW staffers, including “artist-in-residence” Chip Holton, with various skills and a collection of “adjuncts.”
Holton’s charcoal-on-canvas sketches — they will soon be colored — adorn the walls in each room at Proximity.
Quaintance said he believes the well-traveled executives who frequent his Greensboro hotels notice the unique designs and detailed craftsmanship.
Quaintance estimates the guild has done 100 projects at Proximity, the first facility in the hospitality industry to receive LEED Platinum status from the U.S. Green Building Council for its energy efficiency and high performance.
“Many of our guests stay in hotels 100 days a year,” he said. “We think when something is made by people who are sort of soulfully with it — not like a production-line thing — and built especially for the space its going in, people notice.”
“They come back and they like to see the changes,” Kennedy said.
Guild members produce items conceived at design meetings held most Tuesday afternoons at different sites.
In recent weeks, Proximity has received the most attention. Those projects at the industrial-chic hotel include “antiqued” mirrors and several dozen side tables with gold leaf frames and enameled concrete tops.
Guild projects also fill the O.Henry as well as QW restaurants. Lobbies, guest rooms, dining rooms and outdoor terraces are filled with utilitarian and decorative items created or refurbished by the guild to fit into nooks and crannies and complement the design. Finding those perfect items were often a problem prior to the formation of the craft guild.
During the recession that began in 2007, Quaintance said he moved Kennedy, hired as an engineer at O.Henry, to a position working for all of QW’s businesses.
Kennedy gradually assembled a versatile staff, capable of doing not only general maintenance duties, but creating top-quality products.
“I asked Jeff, ‘Why can’t we start building things instead of buying them?’” Quaintance recalled.
Majedeh Modarres Nezhad is the design team project manager. Quaintance, who admits design is one of his passions, attends most of the meetings but said everyone’s opinions are considered equally.
“Most of the people who really enjoy being part of the team don’t get sweaty palms when I’m around,” Quaintance said. “Most of us are responding to the boss of ideas. We’re always working on something. Our first focus is reversing negatives. Second is creating positives.”
Prior to forming the craft guild, Quaintance said he and the late Don Reeves, his former designer, came up with ideas, then hired vendors to carry them out.
How much has QW saved by forming the craft guild? Quaintance said he doesn’t know.
“I probably should have kept track of that,” he said. “We’ve saved money. More important, we have unique features. We have always endeavored to have items that are unique. Whenever we reach a dead end with an item we need, we give it to the craft guild.”
John Brasier covers development, commercial and residential real estate, construction and retail.
Cuisine & Screen, November 19, 2012
I had the privilege of attending Chef Leigh Hesling’s final cooking class for 2012 at Print Works Bistro, and I don’t know how I’ll make it to January 2013, when the next round of classes begins. This was the most fun Saturday I’ve had in a long time, thanks to Chef Hesling’s charming personality, festive and flavorful dishes, and my new favorite wine.
Some of Chef Hesling’s classes take place at Green Valley Grill, but the one I attended was held in a room at Print Works that typically hosts wedding receptions, and features a beautiful view of Greensboro. Several tables were draped with white tablecloths and decorated with flowers in a pumpkin “vase.” (These were raffled off at the end of the class, along with gift cards to both restaurants AND an overnight stay at the Proximity Hotel!) Upon our arrival, my companion and I were offered a refreshing pink cocktails, “The Local Beet.” The earthiness of the beet and the tartness of the lemon were more pronounced than the flavor of the gin, which I appreciated. I knew we were in for a top afternoon
Chef Hesling answered questions throughout the demonstrations, and made for a very delightful “emcee.” The first course was a duo of bisque-y soups, screaming with flavors of the season. And here’s the kicker — they’re served side by side in the same bowl. Butternut Squash Bisque reaches for sweeter notes, thanks to nutmeg and honey, while Truffled Cauliflower Soup gets robust flavor from truffle oil (king of the culinary world), and chive oil enhances both soups. After keeping the “boys and girls at the dance” separate long enough, I was daring enough to try both on my spoon at once and liked what I tasted. No dish during the afternoon needed additional seasoning.
Now onto one of the many highlights of the day: Chef Hesling decided to give us a taste of his home with a 2005 Kirrihill “Birchmores Vineyard” Lanhorne Creek Shiraz from Australia. It was love at first sip. The fruity, plum notes were the perfect accompaniment to our entrée, Seafood en Papillote. Grouper filets are baked in parchment paper, with tomatoes, basil pistou and herb butter, and opening the bag is like unwrapping a present. Steam rises up, and notes of basil, butter and white wine hit you. Swiss chard is a healthy and seasonal side, but the Prima Donna Spaetzle is the indulgent, comforting option. This harkened me back to my vacation in Germany — spaetzle is like macaroni and cheese, without the cheesy, runny sauce. Prima Donna Cheese is a cross between Parmesan and Gouda, and the little spaetzli dumplings absorb the flavor well. I cannot wait to impress my friends at my dinner parties with this course.
As if my taste buds couldn’t have been more stimulated, this sinful dessert is one I’ll be making around Valentine’s Day. Dark Chocolate Cherry Crème Brulee is like a brownie custard, with crunchy, browned sugar on top. Decadent. Though the crème brulee was plenty, Madeleines were served alongside — lemony, buttery and wonderful to dunk in coffee.
Though I wasn’t one of the raffle winners, being exposed to such creative, outstanding food was prize enough. No one walked away empty handed — in addition to a copy of each recipe, everyone got a goody bag with pumpkin biscotti dipped in white chocolate! I highly recommend the 2013 Cooking Class Series with Chef Hesling. You’ll leave with handy kitchen skills, new friends and a very pleased stomach.
October 7, 2008 ( Greensboro, NC) — Quaintance-Weaver Restaurants and Hotels announced today that Print Works Bistro and Proximity Hotel have been awarded LEED Platinum by the U.S. Green Building Council. LEED is the USGBC’s rating system for designing and constructing the world’s greenest, most energy efficient, and high performing buildings. Opened in late 2007, Proximity Hotel and Print Works Bistro are the first in the hospitality industry to obtain the USGBC’s top level of certification.
Dennis Quaintance , the CEO and CDO (Chief Design Officer) of Quaintance-Weaver, is obviously delighted. “When we started the design process four years ago, I would have never believed that we could use 41% less energy and 33% less water without one iota of compromise in comfort or luxury and with minimal additional construction costs,” says Quaintance. “It just goes to show what a determined team can accomplish if they use common sense and get a little bit of help from the sun.”
His “sun” comment refers to the 100 solar rooftop panels that heat water for the AAA Four Diamond hotel. To illustrate how the hotel and bistro save energy without negatively affecting guest comfort, he asks, “How is it a compromise for a guest to shower with water that is heated by the sun? Or, how is it a compromise for a bistro guest if his or her dishes are washed with solar heated water?”
Quaintance collaborated with his subcontractors on every little detail and personally tested most products. “We tested so many different toilets at home that our children were anxious to see what they called the ‘commode du jour’,” he says. “We finally found one that works wonderfully and uses a third of a gallon less with each flush, and it did not cost one cent more than a conventional toilet.”
The rigorous testing for a variety of water saving products is paying off. The hotel and restaurant is on track to use two million gallons less water during the first year, saving more than $13,000 by spending less than $7,000 in additional construction costs.
“I’ve come to believe that it is an urban legend that employing sustainable practices with new construction is too expensive,” concludes Quaintance. “We are very happy with the results, including the costs and returns, of everything that we did. It’s not easy — but it’s not hard. And it’s definitely worth it.”
Proximity and Print Works did not attain this milestone by just using less energy and water. They also:
LEED certification covers energy use, lighting, water and material use as well as incorporating a variety of other sustainable strategies. LEED verifies environmental performance, occupant health and financial return. LEED was established for market leaders to design & construct buildings that protect and save precious resources while also making good economic sense.
“Proximity Hotel is especially to be commended for achieving LEED Platinum. This facility is one that both the community and its guests can be proud of,” said Rick Fedrizzi, President, CEO, Founding Chair, U.S. Green Building Council. “Proximity is a showcase for high-performance, energy-efficient, healthy environment, and an inspiration for others.”
Officials from the USGBC will present the LEED Platinum plaque to the Proximity and Print Works Bistro at a ceremony at the hotel on November 10. On that same day, Proximity will hold its second Sustainable Practices Symposium, a three-hour discussion and tour about the design and building process using the LEED criteria. There is no charge for attendance, but advance registration at www.proximityhotel.com is required.
Built and operated by Quaintance-Weaver Restaurants and Hotels, Print Works Bistro and Proximity Hotel are just a stone’s throw away from its sister businesses, Lucky 32 Kitchen and Wine Bar, Green Valley Grill and the Four Diamond O.Henry Hotel.
About the U.S. Green Building Council
The U.S. Green Building Council is a nonprofit membership organization whose vision is a sustainable built environment within a generation. Its membership includes corporations, builders, universities, government agencies, and other nonprofit organizations. Since UGSBC’s founding in 1993, the Council has grown to more than 17,000 member companies and organizations, a comprehensive family of LEED® green building rating systems, an expansive educational offering, the industry’s popular Greenbuild International Conference and Expo (www.greenbuildexpo.org), and a network of 78 local chapters, affiliates, and organizing groups. For more information, visit www.usgbc.org.
The LEED® (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) Green Building Rating System™ is a feature-oriented rating system that awards buildings points for satisfying specified green building criteria. The six major environmental categories of review include: Sustainable Sites, Water Efficiency, Energy and Atmosphere, Materials and Resources, Indoor Environmental Quality and Innovation and Design. Certified, Silver, Gold, and Platinum levels of LEED green building certification are awarded based on the total number of points earned within each LEED category. LEED can be applied to all building types including new construction, commercial interiors, core & shell developments, existing buildings, homes, neighborhood developments, schools and retail facilities.
Incentives for LEED are available at the state and local level and LEED has also been adopted nationwide by federal agencies, state and local governments, and interested private companies. For more information, visit www.usgbc.org/LEED.
More About Sustainable Practices at Proximity and Print Works:
Here is a sampling of the 70+ sustainable practices at Proximity Hotel & Print Works Bistro: