Imari Scarbrough Staff Writer
January 16, 2014
Oliver’s Hometown Restaurant and Bar in Wadesboro is doing well, according to owner Jeff Oliver and his business partner and fiancée Elizabeth Schafer.
The couple owns both Oliver’s and Southern Medley winery, with him handling the restaurant and her focusing on Southern Medley Wine Cellar. When they opened Southern Medley last July, they were juggling a new business with full-time jobs. Now, both of them have been able to quit their jobs and dedicate their time to their businesses. “It’s much more doable now that we don’t have outside commitments,” Schafer said. “It’s been financially successful for us, as well.”
The restaurant’s menu is expanding, but currently includes a variety of salads, soups, burgers, sandwiches, wraps and more. Guests can choose from a wide variety of appetizers, including fresh fried mushrooms with ranch dipping sauce ($5.50), pimento cheese spread with fresh toasted pita chips ($4.50) or grit fritters with bacon drizzled with pure maple syrup and creamy jalapeno sauce ($4.50), among many others. Salads include vegetarian, chicken, shrimp and other options, all offered with homemade salad dressings and sauces.
Main dishes currently range from the “Death Burger” ($9) that features horseradish, jalapenos, and American, provolone or Swiss cheese to a chicken sandwich ($6.25), as well as several soups. Although the restaurant offers a variety of meaty dishes, vegetarians have multiple appetizers, sides, soups and main dishes such as the roasted veggie wrap ($6.50) to choose from. Desserts include cheesecake, pudding and other delectables.
Soon, the menu will include even more. “We’d like to transition over so that from 4 p.m. to closing we could have a dinner menu, like meatloaf and maybe a pot roast,” Schafer said. “We have mahi-mahi now. We want to add gourmet comfort food, and obviously continue the other items. We’d also like to work with local farms to buy as much locally as we can.”
Beyond the menu, Oliver and Schafer are working to improve the restaurant even more. “In summertime, we’re hoping we’ll be able to have some outdoor seating, as well,” Schafer said. “The winery soon will have a take-out menu where Oliver’s will deliver to the winery, and the wines are now available at Oliver’s. Soon we’ll have a menu at the winery so they can deliver takeout food to the winery to you.”
Additionally, the couple has worked on the building. “The design of the restaurant is different now,”Schafer said. “We’ve made it more open, so that when you sit in the restaurant side there is a different feel of inclusion. We wanted to change the atmosphere of thee restaurant, as well, not just open the same restaurant and serve different food.”
Opening the restaurant created 10 jobs, which cover two shifts six days a week. Two of those employees were brought back from when they worked at the former Malsgate restaurant, where Oliver’s is now located. “We’ve been very fortunate in finding wonderful people both in the kitchen and in the the front of house to work,” Schafer said. “People have been grateful to have jobs, they really are… The Little family have been very wonderful and generous in giving us the opportunity to take over the restaurant.” The Little family owns but building but does not have any involvement in the restaurant.
Responses to the restaurant have been positive so far. “Went tonight and it was really good! Had Turkey Club and Sweet Potatoe (sic) Fries and my husband ate hamburger and fries. We will be going back!!!!” reviewer Cindy Ratliff wrote, giving the restaurant four out of five stars— the lowest rating it has received so far— on its Facebook page. “Good food, great chiefs (sic), great/fun wait staff… what more can you ask???” patron Jonny Trotti wrote, assigning it five stars.
Schafer said that she has noticed the positive attention for both the restaurant and the winery. “Everybody wants us to do well so that we can stay, and that’s the basic feeling that we get,” she said. “The reviews have been great, and we’ve really felt embraced by the community. It’s really showing, not just by the reviews but also because they are coming back.”
Oliver graduated from State University New York (SUNY) Cobleskill with a culinary degree, according to his and Schafer’s website for Southern Medley Wine Cellar.
Oliver’s is located at 121 East Wade St. in Wadesboro and is open Tuesdays through Thursdays from 11 a.m. to 9 p.m., Fridays from 11 a.m. to 11 p.m., Saturdays from noon to 11 p.m., and Sundays from noon to 9 p.m. For more information, call the restaurant at 704-694-2206, email firstname.lastname@example.org or visit the restauarant website at www.oliverswadesboro.com.