New Restaurant Sets Roots in Southern Pines
The developers of Firefly Kitchen & Bar chose Southern Pines for the first of what they hope to be a series of fun, casual restaurants across the Southeast that appeal to multiple economic demographics.
"We developed the menu to be whatever you want it to be," said Patrick Droesch, president and chief operating officer of Firefly. "People can share dishes and try different things or have a big portion, so it gives the consumer the chance to make their dining experience what they want it to be.
"It's our job to deliver on the promise."
The restaurant on U.S. 15-501 opened Dec. 13 after a seven-figure renovation to the former Lonestar Steakhouse building.
"We basically took that thing down to the walls. Everything was redone," Droesch said Thursday in a telephone interview from Plano, Texas. "We made a sizable investment to be successful there."
Droesch said a Dallas design firm came up with the contemporary, rustic interior of the restaurant, and nationally renowned chef Richard Hamilton developed the menu.
"We believe that everything on our menu has a unique and different twist from the expected so we don't call out specific dishes as signature," Droesch said. "In other words, our guests will discover and experience what they think is signature to them."
For example, Hamilton developed a tray of six signature sauces for some of the appetizers.
"If you want it hot, there's a sauce for that. If you want it sweet, there's a sauce for that," Droesch said.
Entree prices range from $12 for a hamburger to $34 for the large Backyard Mixed Grill, which features cuts of the restaurant's best steaks and seasonal sausage sliced for sharing.
There's also a Moore County Salad consisting of grilled sirloin, balsamic onions, deviled egg and blue cheese dressing.
Executive chef Michael Mayer was hired after a nationwide search by a recruiter.
"A lot of his experience fit with what we were trying to do," Droesch said. "Michael understands some of the craziness in getting a new brand off the ground because he has experience opening restaurants."
Droesch said Southern Pines was chosen to test the new concept because tourism augments the local customer base.
"We think the brand fits very well with the demographics there," he said. "You'll find a lot of people who are educated about food and beverage. It's a very savvy market. The more foodies, the better. We think that is the group that is going to really embrace what we're doing.
"You can't succeed on tourism alone, and we know that. We want to be a popular local choice."
Droesch said the first six months will focus on evaluating the concept and its long-term viability.
"We're going table-to-table asking for feedback. This is our time to learn," he said. "We won't make any changes immediately because we don't want to overreact to any feedback."
Droesch added that the company is already discussing expansion plans.
"I don't want to put the cart before the horse because we have to find out what works and what doesn't," he said. "But we would like to grow it across the Southeast because we think the region is underserved by a concept like this."
The restaurant will host a VIP business dinner on Jan. 8 and a VIP event the next night. Both events are being put together by MMI Public Relations in Cary.
"The business dinner is going to be small and intimate," said Caitlin Russell, an MMI account executive. "We want to host the people who help others make dinner decisions, whether it be a hotel concierge or transportation provider."
Russell said the VIP event will be an informal gathering of movers and shakers, as well as business people who have interacted with Firefly management and staff.
"We want to say 'thank you' for their help and patronage," she said. "It's going to be a fun party."
Instead of a typical ribbon-cutting, Russell hopes to have a lantern release.
"But we've got to get permission from the town," she said. "If we can't release the lanterns, we'll probably tether them."
Contact Ted M. Natt Jr. at (910) 693-2474 or tnatt@the
More like this story