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WEST END CAFE REBORN

by Daniel Schere

West End Cafe in Winston- Salem was once a cute little neighborhood joint that seated 36 when it opened it 1980. Since then it has moved from the site where Mozelle’s Fresh Southern Bistro is currently located to the next block and added a full-service bar and nearly tripled in size. Since 1997, the café has occupied the brick building next to the Wells Fargo on West 4th Street. It was at that time that co-owner David Martin decided to join business partners Rob Shay and Stacy Griffin in creating a casual culinary vision.

“I was working down at a little bar called West End Opera House at the bottom of the hill,” Martin said. “Stacy was a bartender at Gatsby’s, and we were just three friends that used to vacation together a lot and decided to go into business for ourselves. Our initial idea was to create something separate from the West End Cafe. We looked around town. We were going have food and do pool tables and video games, etc. and combine the two things that we both knew. Rob knew food, I knew bars.”

Martin had gained some experience in the restaurant industry already having dropped out of college to wait tables and bar tend in order to start making money.

“Between the three of us we had, like, 50 plus years of experience,” he said.

Martin wasn’t sure why he decided to go into the restaurant business but said he was trying to narrow down his career path.

“I kind of fell into it,” he said. “I knew what I didn’t want to do. I didn’t want a desk job.”

To get started, the three of them maxed out their credit cards and received some financing from Lexington State Bank. According to Martin, they also “begged, borrowed but didn’t steal,” on the way to achieving their dream. He said the building, which had once been used for storage, made sense based on what they were trying to do.

“I walked in the back door, pulled up the blinds, I saw this view and I said ‘well, this is it, we’re here,” he said.

On April 21, the restaurant will turn 35 and celebrate 18 years in the current location. The full-service bar serves liquor in addition to beer and wine.

West End’s specialties are its deli sandwiches. They offer sandwiches with virtually every kind of meat, which you can diversify with cheese and other condiments of your choice. The dinner menu is slightly larger with a number of seafood entrees offered including sea bass and jambalaya. Martin says it is the consistency of the food’s quality that keeps people coming back.

“I like to think you come in here on Monday at lunch and order a Reuben, you come back Friday night you’re going to get the same sandwich,” he said.

West End is mostly a word of mouth kind of restaurant. Martin said the building commonly fills up at 5:30 p.m. on Friday and stays busy throughout the week.

“I made a joke years ago. We opened the front doors here, and it’s been like a bullet out of a gun ever since then,” he said. “We just keep our heads down and keep doing what we’re doing.” !

WANNA go?

West End Cafe is located at 926 W. 4th St., Winston-Salem. They are open Monday through Friday 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. and Saturday noon to 10 p.m. Call 336.723.4774, or visit westendcafe.com.

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