Baron and the Beef reopens doors
The Baron and the Beef is back in business.
After a two-and-a-half month hiatus due to damage from Hurricane Florence, the restaurant reopened Saturday. Baron and the Beef has been around since Aug. 10, 1970 and had withstood numerous storms in the past, but owner Tanner Hawkins said there were some nervous feelings after the September storm.
“When we first came back and opened the doors, water came pouring out of the building,” Hawkins said. “The salad bar was toppled over, tables and chairs were gone. We didn’t know if we could open again — the water was waist-high and we literally had to rebuild from the ground up. We put in new furniture and a lot of people did great work to make it happen.
“We’ve been very thankful. It’s been a long process for us, the employees and the customers, but it’s nice to come back out and serve some food.”
Kitchen manager Eddie Summerlin said the difference between Hurricane Florence and the last big storm in the area — Hurricane Matthew in 2016 — was monumental.
“We had to take walls out all the way to the ceiling, rip the floors up and start back over again,” Summerlin said. “During Matthew we had 10 inches of rain (in the building), but this time we had 42.
“It means a lot to be able to come back — this place has been here nearly 50 years and it would be a shame not to reopen.”
The restaurant was started 48 years ago after two friends — Arthur Johnson and Victor Harper — decided to bring something unique to Kinston.
“Two gentlemen were frustrated in the late 1960s about there not being a high-end restaurant where they could get a meal like steak, lobster or prime rib,” Summerlin said. “They thought about it for a while, started this and it’s still kicking to this day. I’ve always liked the atmosphere — it’s a step above regular places and the (décor) makes you feel a little more special when you’re there.”
As the restaurant attempts to get back to a bit of normalcy, Summerlin said he doesn’t see Baron and the Beef closing down any time soon.
“Not if we can help it,” Summerlin said.
Baron and the Beef will be open Monday through Saturday from 5-9 p.m. through the month of December.