Greenville, North Carolina, can expect to see Native Fine Diner, which will be located at 903 Dickinson Ave., open its doors to residents in early October, after the restaurant's original opening date of spring 2020 was postponed due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Brittany Owens, owner and interior designer for Native, said the diner will have around 90 to 120 days of construction set to begin in early August. She said the diner will have a mid-century aesthetic as it will include elements from the original restaurant, Carolina Grill Diner, which occupied the space in 1903.
“We (Luke and Brittany Owens) really want to keep the feeling of the original diner intact while we have some old photos to reference, it’s kind of nice to have those to reflect on, but kind of keeping that mid-century vibe,” Brittany Owens said.
The building for Native Fine Diner is over 100 years old and originally was a ‘40s, ‘50s themed “Shiny Diner,” Brittany Owens said. She said the building has only had restaurants in the space since 1903 which housed the oldest restaurant in Greenville, Carolina Grill Diner.
Native Fine Diner will feature classic diner booths and banquette seats to mix old and new elements inside the restaurant, Brittany Owens said. She said given the restaurant’s history, it was important to herself and her husband, Luke Owens, owner and chef, to preserve as much of the original diner as possible.
“It was like a hot spot for all the workers that worked in the tobacco district down there on Dickinson and just like a little hub and a busy spot in its day,” Brittany Owens said.
The name for the diner, Native Fine Diner, came from the idea that everyone is native to somewhere and someone. She said the pair want Native Fine Diner to be a place where people can come and tell their story while they enjoy food in an inviting space.
Luke Owens said the diner will serve classic cocktails with a full service bar to complement the food offerings.
“We’re going to get a pretty classic take on the cocktails,” Luke Owens said. “Again just like Brit (Brittany Owens) said, we’re bringing so many new things to the space. We want to make sure we're paying attention to where the space came from.”
Native Fine Diner will begin their hours for dinner in October only from 4:30 p.m. to midnight, Luke Owens said. He said the diner will expand its hours to lunch and possibly breakfast sometime after it opens.
Luke Owens said the menu will feature a contrast of flavors with known ingredients paired together in ways one might not think to do. He said the menu will have comfort food and innovative takes on diner classics.
“I’ll do the modern type stuff and I'll use old school nostalgic kind of classic American dishes and reinvent them through contrasting ingredients and different elements,” Luke Owens said.
Throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, Luke Owens said the pair took time to complete tasks for the diner which didn’t involve construction. He said the pandemic pushed back their original opening date of fall of 2020 but allowed time to discuss items such as employee training.
Front of House Manager for Native Fine Diner, Matt Gomez said Native Fine Diner will be a casual fine dining experience for Greenville. He said his role as manager is to ensure those who come into the restaurant have an enjoyable experience from the moment they walk in to the time they leave.
“I know for sure just looking at the plans and everything the first thing that guests are going to realize when they walk in, or at least notice when they walk into the restaurant is how aesthetically pleasing and inviting the restaurant is,” Gomez said.
The diner’s farm to table cuisine will make the restaurant an enticing option for those who want fresh food, Gomez said. He said he anticipates the diner to be very successful and have high involvement throughout the Greenville dining scene.
Gomez said he believes the staff will have a positive influence on the guests' overall experience at Native Fine Diner, because they will be personable, sociable and represent what the diner stands for. He said the diner wants the staff to make guest’s time in the restaurant memorable.
“I know that everybody we’re bringing on is Native (Fine Diner) heart and soul, would do anything for this business to succeed,” Gomez said.
Chef Luke Owens will bring food elements to Greenville that people have never seen, Gomez said, because his food is complex and has cultural influences throughout every dish.