[Jan 10, 2018, 8:49 PM]
Charlotte restaurateurs Greg and Subrina Collier, who found the national spotlight with the 2020 opening of Leah & Louise, debuted the BayHaven Food & Wine Festival in October as part of a mission to highlight Black culinarians. The list of participants included James Beard-recognized chefs (Atlanta's Todd Richards, Wilmington's Keith Rhodes and Alabama’s Duane Nutter) along with Charlotte-area notables Lindsay Williams of Davidson Wine Co., Greg Williams and Jamie Barnes of What the Fries and Michael Bowling of Hot Box Next Level Kitchen. The festival included a lively food truck carnival; demonstrations and tasting experiences; and special chef dinners. The festival is named for the couple’s newly formed restaurant group, called BayHaven in a nod to their Memphis roots. In addition to Leah & Louise, No. 2 on Esquire’s list of the country’s best new restaurants, the Colliers own the Uptown Yolk, which for 2020 earned Greg Collier his second James Beard semifinalist spot.
Two decades after the last guests were served, the Colonial Inn in Hillsborough’s downtown historic district is again welcoming travelers and diners. Originally known as Spencer’s Tavern, the landmark enjoyed a long history as an inn and later a popular restaurant that closed in 2001. The two-story structure houses a restaurant, bar, event center and 28 guestrooms. Hillsborough, once destined to be the state's capital, has been dubbed "America's little literary town" for its concentration of writers. colonialinn-nc.com
The Swag, an all-inclusive guest house near Waynesville, has joined the international Relais & Châteaux association of individually owned and operated luxury hotels and restaurants. The Swag, whose name refers to a low-lying area connecting two ridges, sits on 250 acres at the edge of the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. The all-inclusive hideaway has 14 rooms, each of them individually furnished and decorated with original artwork, rustic antiques, woven rugs and handmade quilts. David and Annie Haslam Colquitt of Knoxville purchased The Swag in 2018, and in 2020, they joined another couple in acquiring nearby Cataloochee Ranch, whose history is tied to the national park’s creation. With operations currently limited to horseback rides, Cataloochee Ranch is expected to reopen in 2022. The Swag joins two other North Carolina properties, Fearrington House in Pittsboro and Old Edwards Inn and Spa in Highlands, on the Relais & Châteaux roster of about 500 properties on five continents.
In a win-win for whitewater enthusiasts and endangered species, the Madison River Park opened a new section of the Dan River north of Greensboro for recreation. To address issues of structural disrepair of the Lindsey Bridge Dam, the town of Madison installed a natural boulder-weir system designed to ensure the local water supply, restore erosion, and remove a barrier to more than 50 miles of habitat for the endangered Roanoke logperch. The project, which opened in spring 2021, also created new access for tubing and paddling with a trio of outfitters (MadTown Tubing, Three River Outfitters and Mayodan Outdoor Sports) available to meet visitors’ needs for equipment and shuttle service.
Travelers to the Cape Lookout National Seashore have a new option for experiencing barrier island nature and history with 4WD Kubota UTV rentals from Island Express Ferry Service, the National Park Service-authorized service to the seashore’s most popular areas. Beginning in March, the UTVs can be rented from the Cape Lookout Lighthouse area and driven to the point for fishing and shelling or to the Cape Lookout Village Historic Site, where a former life-saving station, an old Coast Guard station and the remains of a World War II Army defense complex share 810 acres with former fishing cottages and vacation homes. Island Express offers tours and ferries from Beaufort and Harkers Island with landings in the lighthouse area and Shackleford Banks, famous for its herd of wild Colonial Spanish mustangs.