S.P. Steakhouse Not Quite Ready to Open
Staking its success on an improving economy, an upscale steakhouse in downtown Southern Pines isn't quite ready to open just yet.
In November, restaurant co-owner Phillip O'Connor said he hoped the economy would rebound enough that the restaurant could open in the spring.
On Tuesday, the fourth day of spring, O'Connor said that he and his co-owners are monitoring the economy, but they are still worried that it is not strong enough to support an upscale restaurant.
"There is no point in opening a white-linen restaurant and lose a lot of money," O'Connor said.
The goal, he said, is for the restaurant to be successful and opening now would hinder that.
"Right now, it'd be a struggle to sell enough juicy steaks to make that happen," O'Connor said.
The plan, O'Connor said, is to wait until April and make some decisions.
Southern Prime is on the site of the former La Terrace restaurant near the corner of South West Broad Street and Massachusetts Avenue.
The design of the 6,500-square-foot building took more than a year to complete. The developers, Cary-based MVOC, removed an 80-year-old Deodara cedar tree, which angered a group of residents who fought in vain to save it.
The inside of the restaurant features a large wine room with a one-of-a-kind cooling system that can hold 3,500 bottles of wine. There is a bar area, a main dining room and a private dining area that can be divided into two more intimate settings. There will also be an outdoor dining area.
One of the many features of the steakhouse is the monstrous kitchen area, which O'Connor said would be the envy of any restaurant.
The menu is what will set the restaurant apart from its competition, O'Connor said. It will feature a variety of meats - mostly steaks - and wine for any budget. Dining costs will be similar to a Ruth's Chris Steakhouse or a Morton's.
In November, the restaurant was completed, except for a few "little things, such as installing the computer system.
O'Connor said the restaurant is still accepting applications. So far, he said, applications have come in from around the country.
"We have received a bunch of applications from very qualified people," he said.
Before it opens, the restaurant will hire 20 to 30 employees - including a sommelier, or wine steward. The restaurant will seat 120 comfortably.
In the meantime, the restaurant will continue to reach out to the community through social media sites such as MySpace, Twitter and Facebook.
The Southern Prime Facebook page is updated daily with information about different types of steaks and other information meant to educate future customers about the fine dining experience. It currently has about 250 fans.
"In the last seven days, we've had just under 600 people visit our Facebook page," O'Connor said. "We are very encouraged."
Contact Tom Embrey at (910) 693-2484 or by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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