News & Observer Best for a Date

Best restaurant for a date? Three in North Carolina rank among the nation’s favorites

By: Simone Jasper, The News & Observer

August 11, 2022

If you’re seeking a romantic night out, three North Carolina dining spots might have you covered.

Rey’s Restaurant in Raleigh joined Green Valley Grill and Print Works Bistro in Greensboro on a list of the nation’s top places to go for a date, according to results shared on Aug. 4. To come up with the findings, the restaurant reservation website OpenTable said it studied more than 13 million U.S. reviews that users left on its site from June 2021 to May 2022. It also considered each restaurant’s score, which is “made up of unique data points, such as overall diner rating, user klout, total number of reviews, and regional overall rating.”

OpenTable, which teamed with the dating application Bumble to create the list, also searched for the word “romantic” within the reviews that made it onto its radar, results show. Of the 100 restaurants that earned spots on the list, three were in North Carolina.

In Greensboro, two restaurants earned spots on the OpenTable list.

Green Valley Grill, which said it focuses on “Old World European and Mediterranean flavors,” earned online praise for food prepared on its namesake grill. Several diners reported loving the customer service and visiting the restaurant for special occasions. Nearby, Print Works Bistro has French-inspired dishes made with “locally sourced food,” according to its website. Some OpenTable users have raved about the restaurant’s ambiance and foods ranging from French onion soup to beignets with chocolate sauce. The two Greensboro eateries are part of the same restaurant group and are no strangers to receiving nationwide recognition.

In July, both were named among the country’s best spots for outdoor dining, McClatchy News reported.

This time around, OpenTable and Bumble didn’t only focus on top locations for a romantic date. The companies also considered the best places to meet with friends and business associates, results show.

The North Carolina spots making the lists:

  • The Bistro at Childress Vineyards in Lexington (friends)
  • Rey’s Restaurant in Raleigh (friends)
  • Green Valley Grill in Greensboro (friends)
  • Print Works Bistro in Greensboro (friends and business)
  • Ryan’s Restaurant in Winston-Salem (friends and business)
  • Steak 48 in Charlotte (business)

2019 100 Best Brunch Restaurants | Forbes

100 Best Brunch Restaurants in America: OpenTable Releases Its 2019 List

By: Karla Alindahao, Forbes Magazine & OpenTable

April 2019

Print Works Bistro Dining Room

OpenTable, the restaurant reservations system, just released one of its more popular user–generated lists: The 100 Best Brunch Restaurants in America.

And its timing couldn’t be more fitting. Mother’s Day is nearly upon us—as in less than two weeks away. Thirteen days, if we want to be more precise. But alas, thousands upon thousands of grown children (and their fathers) do not have anything special planned. Yet.

Let’s face it: Many of us attempt to cobble together an exceptional experience way too last minute. But anything done without consideration, time, or preparation always falls short. So let’s save ourselves from all that this year. You don’t want Mom to feel like her one day out of the year was nothing but an afterthought. Is there anything worse than a woman’s silent but palpable disappointment? No there is not.

So book a table today. Order some flowers. Get the family organized and on the program. Plus don’t forget the presents. (Pretty blooms and chocolates do not count as presents.)

We do have one thing going for us: Technology. OpenTable makes the meal part of the celebration easy with its massive brunch roster. A few clicks on the app and you’ve got a confirmed reservation. And you know you can trust the platform to be “democratic” and on-point: As with many of its 100-strong lists, the brunch roster was based entirely on data culled from 12 million verified diner reviews that involved more than 30,000 restaurants in all 50 states and the District of Columbia.

“On Mother’s Day 2018, we seated more diners than any other day that year and recognize that celebrating Mom is a priority for our diners,” OpenTable’s chief dining officer, Caroline Potter, said in a statement. “The honorees on this year’s best brunch list are creating experiences that will dazzle her and make embracing our #DiningMode challenge a snap, with sublime drinks and dishes and friendly service.”

And while there are no winners in all of OpenTable’s lists (they are arranged alphabetically sans ranking), California came out as the most recognized state with 16 restaurants—followed by New York with 12. Illinois and Pennsylvania have eight. Florida, Texas, and Washington, D.C. boast seven each. And Louisiana claims five.

To view the full list, scroll down—or click here.


Ambar (Multiple Locations)

Atchafalaya Restaurant (New Orleans, Louisiana)

Balthazar (New York, New York)

Bartolotta’s Lake Park Bistro (Milwaukee, Wisconsin)

Beachcomber Cafe, Crystal Cove (Newport Coast, California)

Beatrix (Multiple Locations)

Brennan’s (New Orleans, Louisiana)

Brennan’s of Houston (Houston, Texas)

Bristol Seafood Grill (Multiple Locations)

The Butcher, The Baker, The Cappuccino Maker (West Hollywood, California)

Bud & Marilyn’s (Philadelphia, Pennsylvania)

Café Ba-Ba-Reeba (Chicago, Illinois)

Cafe Fiorello (New York, New York)

Cafe Luxembourg (New York, New York)

Cafe Monte (Charlotte, North Carolina)

Cappy’s Restaurant (San Antonio, Texas)

Carmine’s, 44th Street (New York, New York)

Catch L.A. (West Hollywood, California)

Chart House Restaurant (Weehawken, New Jersey)

Chez Zee (Austin, Texas)

Cookshop (New York, New York)

The Copper Hen (Minneapolis, Minnesota)

The Dandelion (Philadelphia, Pennsylvania)

The Dining Room at Salish Lodge & Spa (Snoqualmie, Washington)

Duke’s (Huntington Beach, California)

Emmaline (Houston, Texas)

Farmers & Distillers (Washington, D.C. )

Farmers Fishers Bakers (Washington, D.C. )

Farmhouse at Rogers Gardens (Corona Del Mar, California)

Founding Farmers (Multiple Locations)

The Gage (Chicago, Illinois)

Gandy Dancer (Ann Arbor, Michigan)

Geoffrey’s Restaurant (Malibu, California)

Gertrude’s (Baltimore, Maryland)

Giada at The Cromwell (Las Vegas, Nevada)

Grace’s (Houston, Texas)

The Grand Marlin of Pensacola Beach (Pensacola, Florida)

Great Maple (San Diego, California)

Green Valley Grill (Greensboro, North Carolina)

The Hamilton (Washington, D.C.)

The Hampton Social, River North (Chicago, Illinois)

Harbor House (Milwaukee, Wisconsin)

Hell’s Kitchen at Caesars Palace (Las Vegas, Nevada)

The Henry (Phoenix, Arizona)

HEXX Kitchen + Bar (Las Vegas, Nevada)

Ida Claire (Addison, Texas)

The Ivy (West Hollywood, California)

Jake’s Del Mar (Del Mar, California)

Kyle G’s Prime Seafood (Jensen Beach, Florida)

Lafayette (New York, New York)

Lake Elmo Inn (Lake Elmo, Minnesota)

Le Diplomate (Washington, D.C.)

Le Moo (Louisville, Kentucky)

Lindey’s (Columbus, Ohio)

Little Goat (Chicago, Illinois)

Lola Seattle (Seattle, Washington)

Louie Bossi Ristorante (Fort Lauderdale, Florida)

The Love (Philadelphia, Pennsylvania)

Maggiano’s, South Coast Plaza (Costa Mesa, California)

Mama’s Fish House (Paia, Hawaii)

Mere Bulles (Brentwood, Tennessee)

Mon Ami Gabi (Las Vegas, Nevada)

Muriel’s Jackson Square (New Orleans, Louisiana)

Oxford Exchange (Tampa, Florida)

Palace (Miami Beach, Florida)

Palace Café (New Orleans, Louisiana)

Parc (Philadelphia, Pennsylvania)

Perch L.A. (Los Angeles, California)

Pier W (Cleveland, Ohio)

Poor Calvin’s (Atlanta, Georgia)

Print Works Bistro (Greensboro, North Carolina)

The Rotunda at Neiman Marcus (San Francisco, California)

Sadelle’s (New York, New York)

Salty’s (Multiple Locations)

Sarabeth’s, Park Avenue South (New York, New York)

Shaw’s Crab House (Chicago, Illinois)

The Smith (Multiple Locations)

Somerset (Chicago, Illinois)

Spencer’s Restaurant (Palm Springs, California)

Stanford Grill (Columbia, Maryland)

Succotash, Penn Quarter (Washington, D.C.)

Summer House Santa Monica (Chicago, Illinois)

Suraya (Philadelphia, Pennsylvania)

Talula’s Garden (Philadelphia, Pennsylvania)

Tavern on the Green (New York, New York)

Terrain Garden Cafe (Glen Mills, Pennsylvania)

The Tropicale (Palm Springs, California)

Top of the Hub (Boston, Massachusetts)

Tower Oaks Lodge (Rockville, Maryland)

Town (San Carlos, California)

Tupelo Honey, Downtown Asheville (Asheville, North Carolina)

Ulele (Tampa, Florida)

Unconventional Diner (Washington, D.C.)

Upland (New York, New York)

Whiskey Cake (Plano, Texas)

White Dog Cafe (Wayne, Pennsylvania)

Willa Jean (New Orleans, Louisiana)

X2O Xaviars on the Hudson (Yonkers, New York)

Yank Sing, Rincon Center (San Francisco, California)

Yardbird (Multiple Locations)

100 Best Brunch Restaurants | Forbes

100 Best Brunch Restaurants in America: OpenTable Releases Its 2018 List

By Karla Alindahao, Forbes Magazine
May 2018

Print Works Bistro Dining Room

In New York City, where I live, power lunches and breakfasts have always been a thing. But when the weekend comes, you can be sure that nearly every New Yorker (dressed in city chic attire) will convene for indulgent brunches—replete with glasses of rosé, mimosas, and Bloody Marys.

But let it be known that brunch is not just a New York ritual—it’s practically the holy grail of weekend pursuits everywhere. So you can appreciate how OpenTable’s annual “100 Best Brunch Restaurants in America” can be more than a little helpful—especially when it’s released a few days before Mother’s Day. (Fantastic news for the procrastinators among us who have been anguishing over reservations.)

But beyond that, it’s only one of the many 100-strong rosters that the company is known for publishing several times a year. “The 100 Best Restaurants in America,” “The 100 Most Romantic Restaurants in America,” “The 100 Most Scenic Restaurants in America,” and more are rolled out every few months or so—and they’re all highly anticipated. And that’s great for diners who truly enjoy a good meal. Why? I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: Because OpenTable’s lists are the most democratic. They’re not trying to be Michelin or The World’s 50 Best. These restaurants in this list do not have servers pointing out each element of a dish with a finely-manicured pinkie finger. They don’t cater to people who dine professionally and only do tasting menus that cost four figures. There are neither titles nor rankings. There are no special commendations and special awards.

Instead, each list is user-generated—culled from the reviews of verified OpenTable diners (not critics or so-called food influencers). Essentially, the rosters are for real people by real people. It’s easy to forget that the measure of what makes a good restaurant is simple yet relevant. All you need is great food, amiable service, and a good environment—plus a well-stocked bar and decent wine cellar. Stuffiness and pretentiousness are not requirements. (Personally, many of my favorite New York restaurants have never been on a list.)

 As for the restaurants on this particular brunch-driven list, the data is sourced purely from more than 12 million OpenTable-verified diners that includes more than 45,000 restaurants in all 50 states and Washington, D.C. And as expected, the coastal states dominated. California came out on top this year (with 19 restaurants), closely followed by New York (with 15). Washington D.C., which has a growing and thriving food scene, is tied with Pennsylvania (the each have nine). Illinois claims eight—counting Little GoatThe Hampton Social, and The Publican among its honorees.

To view the full list on OpenTable, click here. And I wasn’t joking about brunch being a weekend pastime everywhere. If you happen to find yourself in Canada this year, OpenTable has a brunch list for our northern neighbor too.


ABC Kitchen (New York, New York)

Atchafalaya Restaurant (New Orleans, Louisiana)

Bacon Social House (Denver, Colorado)

Balthazar (New York, New York)

Beachcomber Cafe, Crystal Cove (Newport Coast, California)

Beatrix, River North (Chicago, Illinois)

Beehive (Boston, Massachusetts)

Blend on the Water (Long Island City, New York)

Brennan’s (New Orleans, Louisiana)

Bud & Marilyn’s (Philadelphia, Pennsylvania)

Cafe Luxembourg (New York, New York)

Cafe Monte (Charlotte, North Carolina)

Cafeteria 15L (Sacramento, California)

Catch L.A (West Hollywood, California)

Chez Zee (Austin, Texas)

The Clubhouse, Oak Brook (Oak Brook, Illinois)

Cookshop (New York, New York)

The Copper Hen (Minneapolis, Minnesota)

The Dandelion (Philadelphia, Pennsylvania)

The Dead Fish (Crockett, California)

Deerpark Restaurant, Biltmore Estate (Asheville, North Carolina)

Farmers & Distillers (Washington, D.C.)

Farmers Fishers Bakers (Washington, D.C.)

Farmhouse at Rogers Gardens (Corona Del Mar, California)

The Food Market (Baltimore, Maryland)

Gandy Dancer (Ann Arbor, Michigan)

Geoffrey’s Restaurant (Malibu, California)

Georgia Brown’s (Washington, D.C.)

Gertrude’s, Baltimore (Baltimore, Maryland)

Grace’s (Houston, Texas)

Gracias Madre (West Hollywood, California)

Grand Concourse (Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania)

Great Maple San Diego (San Diego, California)

Greens Restaurant (San Francisco, California)

Halls Chophouse (Charleston, South Carolina)

The Hamilton (Washington, D.C.)

The Hampton Social (Chicago, Illinois)

Hau Tree Lanai (Honolulu, Hawaii)

Hell’s Kitchen Minneapolis (Minneapolis, Minnesota)

High Cotton, Charleston (Charleston, South Carolina)

Ida Claire (Addison, Texas)

The Ivy (West Hollywood, California)

Jane (New York, New York)

Lafayette (New York, New York)

Lake Elmo Inn (Lake Elmo, Minnesota)

Las Brisas (Laguna Beach, California)

Le Coucou (New York, New York)

Le Diplomate (Washington, D.C.)

Lindey’s (Columbus, Ohio)

Little Goat (Chicago, Illinois)

LuLu’s (Richmond, Virginia)

The Majestic Yosemite Hotel (Yosemite Village, California)

Maggiano’s, South Coast Plaza (Costa Mesa, California)

Magnolias (Charleston, South Carolina)

Mere Bulles (Brentwood, Tennessee)

Meson Sabika (Naperville, Illinois)

Mon Ami Gabi (Multiple Locations)

Old Ebbitt Grill (Washington, D.C.)

Oxford Exchange (Tampa, Florida)

Palisade (Seattle, Washington)

Parc (Philadelphia, Pennsylvania)

Perch L.A (Los Angeles, California)

Pier W (Cleveland, Ohio)

Print Works Bistro (Greensboro, North Carolina)

The Publican (Chicago, Illinois)

Pump (West Hollywood, California)

Queen Mary Champagne Sunday Brunch (Long Beach, California)

Ray’s on the River (Sandy Springs, Georgia)

Red Rooster Harlem (New York, New York)

Relish (Philadelphia, Pennsylvania)

Rusty Scupper, Baltimore (Baltimore, Maryland)

Sadelle’s (New York, New York)

Sarabeth’s (Multiple Locations)

Shaw’s Crab House, Chicago (Chicago, Illinois)

SkyCity Restaurant at the Space Needle (Seattle, Washington)

Spencer’s Restaurant (Palm Springs, California)

Stephanie’s On Newbury (Boston, Massachusetts)

Summer House Santa Monica (Chicago, Illinois)

Sundy House (Delray Beach, Florida)

Tabard Inn (Washington, D.C.)

Talula’s Garden (Philadelphia, Pennsylvania)

Tavern on the Green (New York, New York)

Terrain Garden Cafe (Glen Mills, Pennsylvania)

Tower Oaks Lodge (Rockville, Maryland)

Town (San Carlos, California)

The Tropicale (Palm Springs, California)

Tupelo Honey, Arlington (Arlington, Virginia)

Ulele (Tampa, Florida)

Upland (New York, New York)

Warmdaddy’s (Philadelphia, Pennsylvania)

White Dog Cafe, Wayne (Wayne, Pennsylvania)

Willa Jean (New Orleans, Louisiana)

Woodberry Kitchen (Baltimore, Maryland)

X2O Xaviars on the Hudson (Yonkers, New York)

Yardbird Southern Table & Bar (Multiple Locations)

Williams on Wine

Williams on Wine: Cooking + Wine

By: Ed Williams, 1808 Magazine

October  26, 2017

Executive Chef Leigh Hesling leads an interactive cooking class at Print Works Bistro, part of Print Works/Green Valley Grill series.
Executive Chef Leigh Hesling leads an interactive cooking class at Print Works Bistro, part of Print Works/Green Valley Grill series.


Print Works/Green Valley Grill’s Cooking Class series is and isn’t about the cooking. Sure, Executive Chef Leigh Hesling shows you step-by-step how you’re dish is prepared, aided by large video screens and mirrors. This sit-down food-and-wine pairing is all about experiencing the textures, aromas, taste, culinary ambiance and fellowship with your table mates.


This three-course meal varies depending on date and season — and what’s in season. The wines paired with the courses are particularly well-thought out.


Chef Hesling claims Australian roots, his Aussie accent unmistakable. He’s part Julia Child, part Tasmanian devil and equal parts Barnum & Bailey. He and his assistants fly around the room, dropping ingredients tableside or showing the dish in-process.


Yep, you get ’em. Each step of the prep work, sauce, or entrée is outlined on a set of cards so you can follow along. Even if you never try to replicate the dish, you’ll learn cool tips and tricks of the trade.


This kick-starter is a special concoction from the resident mixologist — and explains why I’m spending more and more time in the bitters section at my favorite food store.


Well-chosen from the U.S., Spain, France, Portugal, Germany and Australia. Chef Hesling explains why they work alongside his dish.


Perhaps the most entertaining piece of a two-hour afternoon. Avocado should not be subjected to “smoosh-tification.” Raw tuna should be “dice-tificated” provided things don’t get out of hand during the “mix-tifaction” part of the dish, which might include some “soak-tification of the beans” and “jam-ifacation of the plums.”

Hesling reminds: “Of course, I’m in charge of the Queen’s English.”

Other phrases you might hear: “Because I can.” “Because it’s so awesome.” “Because it’s so sexy.” “Now that’s a life-changer.”


Most fun you can have with your clothes on. The 2018 series makes a special holiday gift.


Proximity Hotel (704 Green Valley Road): 12:30 p.m. Feb. 17, 12:30 p.m. June 9, 12:30 p.m. Sept. 22

O.Henry Hotel (624 Green Valley Road): 12:30 and 6:30 p.m. March 24,12:30 p.m. July 28, 12:30 p.m. Oct. 27

Tickets: $85 per class or three for $235. Order at or contact Lee Healy at 336-478-9126 or Reservations required.

Ed Williams, director of public information at Alamance Community College, likes to pass along helpful tips from this class to culinary students at his college.

Jessica’s Mash-Up

Jessica’s Mash-Up

The many hats of Jessica Mashburn

By Brian Clarey, Triad City Beat
August 10, 2017

Jessica Mashburn with Crowd

Tonight Jessica Mashburn is a DJ, posted in the raised corner of the lounge at Print Works Bistro while a genuine disco ball throws raindrops of light across the walls.

The regulars show precisely at 10 p.m. to this pop-up dance party; 45 minutes in, they’re keeping three bartenders and a cocktail waitress hopping with complicated drink orders as dancers fight for space on the floor before the DJ stand. By 11 p.m., the first conga line snakes past the wait station and through the lounge.

“Happy anniversary, Crystal and Jeff!” she shouts through the mic.

The party ends at 1 a.m., so Mashburn’s taking them up a steep curve with some classic disco and a little Bollywood before dropping “Despacito,” Luis Fonsi’s slow-burn dancehall grind with Damn Yankee — the version without Justin Bieber. The number incites vigorous activity on the dance floor, where sweat and hormones are starting to flow.

“[This song] will be requested four or five more times tonight,” Mashburn says as an aside to a reporter.

And then it’s “Dancing Queen,” by Abba, and women take turns standing on the raised platform in front of her DJ stand, dancing to the appreciative crowd.

See that girl. Watch that scene. Dig the dancing queen.

“Abba-dabba do it!” Mashburn implores from her perch.

She’s forsaken her usual headgear tonight — a collection of hats, headdresses and fascinators that take up an entire wall of the bedroom she’s appropriated into a costume closet — her hair now in low pigtails and a pair of oversize, pink-tinted glasses that wouldn’t look out of place resting on the nose of Elton John. She’s bouncing and sliding, pumping and rolling her arms so enthusiastically it looks like she might be sneaking in a workout.

The night wears on as a soft, coppery rain falls on the fancy cars in the parking lot and a patron hustles outside to put the top up on his convertible. The demographic swirls with young professionals, empty-nest scenesters and veteran club-hoppers, not too young and not too old, with nowhere else to go on a Friday night.

“There’s not a lot of classy places in town to go dancing,” Mashburn says. Where craft beer, tattoos and local bands are the cultural mainstream, the pop-up dance crowd in Greensboro is a genuine subculture.

She identified and built this scene through hustle and drive, landing it at Print Works, whose parent company, Quaintance-Weaver Mashburn has been associated with since she used to wait tables at the Green Valley Grill more than a decade ago. Now she regularly works wedding receptions here at the Proximity Hotel and the O. Henry Hotel, both as a DJ and performer, and programs all the music for other QW properties.

And then there’s this pop-up dance party, a way to make the party public.

It’s got the feel of a great wedding reception, a country-club social, the nightclub of a high-end cruise ship, a high-school reunion afterparty. Jessica Mashburn owns it: their diva, their interlocutor, their dancing queen.

“Ladies and gentlemen,” she shouts into the mic, “Lexie is getting married tomorrow!”


Upstairs in the Midtown home she shares with fellow performer Evan Olson, across from his studio in the loft, she keeps her finery.

There’s a wall of costumes, every one she’s ever made: a Wonder Woman suit, a Rockford peaches uniform from A League of Their Own, along with patterned dresses and separates in a full rainbow. The top shelf tumbles with headpieces, some she made for High Point Furniture Market with couches and dressers, others for New Year’s Eve, one for the last episode of “TheLate Show with David Letterman,” another with the five Olympic rings. She made one of a literal house of cards, to commemorate both the Netflix show and the precarious nature of our government. And there’s one she made just last month, the “Spy-crowave,” a shot at the Russia scandal enveloping the Trump White House.

Jessica Mashburn hats

There are pillboxes and sun hats, boas and beads, masks, tiaras, false flowers for her hair, wigs, a cascade of party shoes. Brooches, scarves, wraps, medallions, colors that mimic the brightly colored houses in certain Caribbean neighborhoods.

It’s difficult to tell if the wardrobe is part of her act, or if her act is an extension of the wardrobe.

Mashburn dresses to suit the gig. She plays the chanteuse when she works with Dave Fox’s jazz trio, provides a colorful counterpoint to Olson’s minimalist fashion sense in their AM rOdeO sets, goes full-on Mardi Gras when she’s alone behind the piano. When she sang “America the Beautiful” and the National Anthem before a Grasshoppers game in May, she wore a stylish blue jacket and a short, full, blue houndstooth skirt. When she performed her original piece about repealing HB 2 onstage at Birdland in New York City, she wore a little black dress belted in red with a matching red cardigan. And a swan on her head.

She was born to do this, whatever this is.

Mashburn’s parents are bluegrass musicians whose friends filled her childhood home in Greensboro with that high, lonesome sound. Her father played bass for the Carter Brothers. Her mother was one of the first organizers of Merlefest.

They taught her to play piano, and from there she ascended through the the Music Academy of North Carolina in Greensboro before completing her education at Sandhills Community College in Pinehurst, NC, with a brief stopover at UNCG.

When she was still a student at Southeast Guilford High School, she used to watch her mother spin records at Bench Tavern. Somewhere along the line she learned to tap dance, work a room, write a song and make a hat.

Now she sings and plays guitar, piano and a little bit of mandolin; she could probably do a serviceable job on a drum kit, if you put her behind one. She’s got an accordion she’s trying to wrangle a nice sound out of, and a violin she’s been trying to play, she says, her whole life.

The result is a weird mix between Lady Gaga and Shirley Temple, David Bowie and Liza Minelli, Nancy Sinatra and the New York Dolls. And if she can’t find a stage for it, she will make it happen.

She plays the solo shows on piano and in the duo with Olson, and holds down vocals with a jazz combo. She takes the wedding gigs as DJ and master of ceremonies, and as an officiant can even consecrate a marriage. She pops onstage at Birdland like a seasoned pro and will even play your birthday party if she can fit it into her schedule. She’s been asked to take part in stage musicals, but she can never find the time.

She’s booked 16 gigs just this month, between the regular Tuesday night AM rOdeO gigs at Print Works, semi-regular slots in the lobby lounge at the Grandover Resort, private events at the Greensboro Country Club and the Wyndham Tournament and a one-off at the Greensboro Public Library for the One City/One Book Fashion Show & Dance Party.

And if she doesn’t have the perfect outfit for each one, she will make that happen, too,

It’s the night before the pop-up, and though she’s got no gigs on the calendar there is still work to be done.

Tonight Mashburn is a songwriter, sitting at the piano in her living room while late-afternoon sun streams through the windows.

“Mueller,” she sings softly above a D-minor 7 chord. “Oh Mueller,” and then the notes move up the C-major scale. “It’s Mueller time… what will he find….”

She stops.

“What rhymes with subpoena?”

Jessica Mashburn Playing Piano

The day’s news saw the announcement of Special Investigator Robert Mueller’s grand jury, which has been hearing evidence about possible collusion between the Trump administration and Russia.

Mashburn’s no fan of the president or his party — she and Olson have a short catalog of political material, though it’s more the Smothers Brothers variety than Phil Ochs. She uses social media, too, to make her opinions heard. Some of it finds its way into her act, always tempered with humor.

“All the great political protest songs have already been written,” she says. “And when people come to see me, they expect a little humor. I think it’s the best to write political songs that sound kitschy, like ‘Mr. Rogers’ Neighborhood.’”

She rhymes Trump with, “What a dump,” works “Katrina” in there to resolve the “subpoena” issue and casts a verse that glances off the infamous “Pee Pee Tape” and OJ Simpson.

Mashburn says she left UNCG’s music program because it relied so much on classical training and performance, while at Sandhills she could concentrate on music theory.

“I wanted to learn how to be a gigging musician,” she says. “If someone says, ‘Let’s play “Mustang Sally” in C,’ I didn’t want to need the sheet music.”

She started performing right away, eventually landing slots with UBU out of Jamestown and Billy Scott & the Prophets, two regionally touring bands that brought her from southern Florida to Atlantic City, NJ.

“Then I wanted to somehow create a career that was mainly in my own ZIP code,” she says. “You sleep in your car in a Walmart parking lot enough times, that will happen.”

Tonight’s a rare night off from the stage — she gigged with Olson last night and the pop-up isn’t until tomorrow. There’s a DJ slot in two nights at a private party in Summerfield, and then it’s back on the grind by Wednesday.

Maybe the Mueller piece will be ready by then.

“There’s a man that’s been making the news,” she sings now at the piano to a meandering Broadway beat. “You’d not want to be in the president’s shoes. What will he find? It’s Mueller time.”

The song needs some work, but she’s already got the perfect hat.


‘Greenest Hotel in America’: A Greensboro Hotel Makes Climate-Conscious Travelers Swoon


By: Brady Dennis, The Washington Post

May 17, 2017

Proximity Hotel Solar Panels
The LEED Platinum-certified Proximity Hotel, in Greensboro, N.C., is topped with 100 solar panels.

In one sense, the Proximity Hotel in Greensboro, N.C., shouts its environmental bona fides from the rooftop.

One of the first sights that greet guests as they turn in to an otherwise nondescript office park off Green Valley Road are the 100 solar panels perched atop the handsome hotel, which from afar looks like an old textile warehouse lovingly brought back to life.

Visitors with low-emitting, fuel-efficient vehicles can pull into a preferred parking spot closer to the front entrance, where a U.S. Green Building Council seal proclaims the hotel’s status as LEED Platinum — a rating reserved for the most energy-efficient of buildings. (The Proximity became the first hotel in the United States to earn the distinction nearly a decade ago, and only a handful have earned it since.)

Proximity Hotel Social Lobby
The hotel’s lobby is furnished with locally made furniture.

“We are the greenest hotel in America,” a receptionist enthusiastically informs me from behind a floating front desk in the lobby, pointing out that many of the materials used to build the hotel were regionally sourced and almost all the construction waste was reused or recycled. (Much of the furniture also was produced within 18 miles of the hotel — a feat perhaps easier to pull off in one of the country’s furniture meccas).

In my loftlike room on the Promixity’s top floor, with its stunning floor-to-ceiling windows, exposed concrete walls and towering ceiling, a card on the plush king-size bed details more of the hotel’s Earth-loving ways.

“Chances are the hot water you enjoy will be heated by today’s or yesterday’s sunlight!” it reads.

Map of North Carolina and GreensboroI learn that the hotel circulates “fresh yet filtered” outside air to its guest rooms year-round, that the elevators are “the first in North America to generate electricity as they descend to use for the ascent,” that high-efficiency faucets and toilets reduce water usage by 33 percent, that the hotel overall uses roughly 40 percent less electricity than a conventional hotel and that the kitchen in the downstairs restaurant uses a geothermal cooling system.

It’s quite a pitch. Enough to make a climate-conscious traveler swoon, or an ordinary traveler’s head spin with the earnestness of it all.

Luckily for travelers of every kind, that card on the bed made another promise: “You won’t sacrifice one iota of luxury or comfort because of our commitment to sustainable practices. We believe that deprivation is not sustainable.”

Not to worry. There is no deprivation in the proximity of Proximity.

The furniture might be locally manufactured and the construction materials carefully recycled, but sitting in the hotel’s airy two-story lobby one afternoon, I was struck not by the sustainability of it all but by the serenity. The chairs and couches were comfortable and inviting. White orchids hung from the walls. Natural light spilled in from massive windows, which overlooked an interior garden brimming with bluebells and flowering magnolias.

Later, in the adjacent Print Works Bistro — a cozy restaurant that could have been plucked from a Paris side street — I frankly gave little thought that the bar had been made from salvaged walnut trees, the service trays from Plyboo (bamboo plywood) or the drink coasters from cut up pieces of cardboard. Rather, I spent much more time savoring the perfectly seared hanger steak, locally sourced vegetables and a beer from a nearby brewery.

Pan Seared Sea Scallops
The hotel uses locally sourced and seasonal food, such as pan-seared sea scallops paired with fruits and vegetables.

This is how it was intended to be, according to Proximity’s enthusiastic, idealistic-but-practical co-owner, Dennis Quaintance, who along with his wife, Nancy King Quaintance, conceived of the hotel. In part thinking about the sort of legacy they wanted to leave for their twin children, the couple decided to build a hotel centered on sustainable practices, but not one known only for that.

“I want people to know about it when they are booking the hotel. But I don’t want them to notice it once they’re there,” Dennis Quaintance tells me when I call him a few days after my stay. “That’s the best of both worlds.”

The Quaintances, who also own the nearby O. Henry Hotel and several restaurants, oversaw every detail of the Proximity, right down to the low-flow toilets they finally decided upon after testing out different models in their own home week after week. The “commode du jour,” their daughter called the rotating models in the bathroom near the family kitchen.

A decade later, Dennis Quaintance — a man who walks the several miles from his home to his hotels most days — has become an ambassador for making sustainable choices.

“It’s a myth, absolutely a myth, that it’s more expensive,” he says, noting that the couple recouped any higher upfront construction costs in about four years by what they saved in tax credits and lower energy costs. After all, they are business executives first. “It’s not sustainable to go broke,” he says.

Proximity Hotel Red Bike
Guests have the option of exploring Greensboro by bicycle; owners Dennis and Nancy King Quaintance wanted to build a hotel centered on sustainable practices.

A decade on, the couple has continued their eco-conscious ways. For instance, they employ more than a half-dozen craftspeople in a studio not far from the Proximity. There, worn out chairs get reupholstered and refreshed rather than scrapped and replaced. An artist-in-residence makes charcoal-on-canvas sketches that adorn guest rooms and common areas. The group also builds custom furnishings for the hotel — antiqued mirrors, one-of-a-kind tables, cabinets, chairs and lampshades — that are more unique and typically less expensive than buying from outside vendors.

“To me, it just seems more soulful, more authentic,” Quaintance says.

And that’s the difference. The solar panels, the high-efficiency plumbing, the salvaged wood and recycled construction materials — it’s an admirable, Earth-friendly approach, not to mention an apparently astute business decision.

But I suspect what prompts so many of Proximity’s visitors to make return visits has very little to do with its carbon footprint and a lot to do with its undeniable charm.

Authenticity and soul, it turns out, might be the most sustainable qualities of all.

Fox8 Newsmakers


GREENSBORO, N.C. — It would be hard to find two people who are more forward-thinking than Dennis and Nancy Quaintance.

Not long after they got married in the early 1980s, they decided they wanted to become “Mr. & Mrs. Hotel-Restaurant Greensboro.” Mission accomplished!

‘We both love being in hotels and restaurants,” Nancy told me during a recent visit.

“We want people’s lives to be more full and rich because they dine or stay with us,” Dennis said.

Nancy is the vice-president, Dennis the CEO of Quaintance-Weaver Restaurants and Hotels.

Not only did the duo build the Proximity, which opened 10 years ago as one of the country’s most energy efficiency hotels, but also the O.Henry Hotel and it’s restaurant, the Green Valley Grill as well as two Lucky 32 Restaurants in Greensboro and Cary.

“I would say that mostly it’s a team. It’s cooperative. But if it comes down to one person decides about something, we would probably err with our CEO,” Nancy said. To which Dennis responded, “The way we often talk about that is that out of every 10,000 decisions, I should make one.”

A few months back, both made a milestone decision which they announced at this gathering of employees: they were selling the company to a trust that provides retirement benefits to the company’s 600-plus workers. If you’re older than 18 and have worked for the company more than a year, you’re in. You’re vested after three years.

“It’s a really sustainable thing to do for the company and they all know that the company will be here and they get to share in the success that we do,” Nancy said.

It also helps the Quaintances avoid challenges down the road.

“So that we wouldn’t have to be running around 20 or 30 years from now figuring out, ‘On no, Dennis and Nancy just kicked the bucket — maybe 40 to 50 years — (laughter) so what are we going to do with the ownership of the company.’ We wanted to deal with this proactively,” Dennis said.

But it doesn’t mean the Quaintances have given up their day-to-day involvement in the business. They’re still walking the properties every day and dealing with the challenges that come along including, most recently, HB2.

“Within a week of HB2 passing, we had over $100,000 in reservations canceled,” Dennis said.

There are also the relatively new concepts of internet ratings sites and social media which, if you’re in the hospitality business, can make or break you.

“The thing about social media is people can put anything out there in the universe whether it’s accurate or not accurate. But from our perspective what they put out there, and there’s a vein or truth sometimes in what a lot of people say and what you hear. So that’s our opportunity to think about how we can be better,” Nancy said.

“Our company is about as big as it can be. But my bet is over the next 20 years, that we add one or two or three, no more than five new businesses, but they’ll all probably be in Greensboro or within the Triad,” Dennis said. “We think most of our challenges relate to how well we take care of our guests and colleagues. We’re here to be of genuine service to our brothers and sisters who are in priority sequence: our guests, our colleagues, our shareholders (who are now our colleagues) and then the earth and her people. So everything we do is within that context.”

And that life mission is why the Quaintances are being recognized this week as the 2017 Advocates of Compassion and Service to the Community by The Salvation Army of Greensboro. The Salvation army says they truly live up to its motto of “doing the most good.”

For more information on Dennis and Nancy Quaintance and their company, click here.

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