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Crossroads Grille opens in Horse Shoe

James Wilson serves a seven-ounce skirt steak with chimichuri sauce, baked potato and dinner roll. James Wilson serves a seven-ounce skirt steak with chimichuri sauce, baked potato and dinner roll.

HORSE SHOE — Growing up, James Wilson learned to cook because his older brothers wanted to eat.


"My mom was a fulltime, two-jobs working mom," he said.
Necessity being the mother of concoction, young James went to work in the kitchen.
"I started cooking for my brothers when I was 8 years old," he said. His older brothers were hungry "but they weren't going to cook."
He got his first paying job at age 14 as a dishwasher at a steakhouse, worked for four years flipping burgers and serving fries at a McDonald's and was managing a Huddle House at age 20. In his spare time he liked to watch cooking shows and read recipes.
After serving two years in the Army in an air assault infantry unit, Wilson worked in a variety of cooking jobs in North Carolina and Georgia, from short order jobs to high-end country club gigs.
"I traveled quite a bit," he said. "I've been in probably 40 out of 50 states."
He was head chef at the Black Rose Public House in downtown Hendersonville, worked for a short time in Cumming Cove's kitchen and was assistant head chef at the Franklin Country Club in his hometown.
He's never been his own boss, until now.
Wilson has opened the Crossroads Grille two weeks ago.
He says he uses the experience he's gained doing every kind of cooking to serve a good hardy meal at an affordable price.
He and a partner, Mike Philbrook, took over the former Homestead restaurant and signed a lease-purchase agreement that will give them ownership of the whole place in three years.
They take pride in buying fresh ingredients and putting their own spin on everything from a half-pound "Bacon Spectacular" cheeseburger and the Crossroads prime rib sandwich to skirt steak and honey-garlic glazed salmon.
"I don't have a degree in culinary arts but most of my customers say I could dance circles around most of the chefs they know," he said.
His fish special is shipped overnight — "the freshest salmon you can get without being on the ocean." He makes all of his salsas in-house. He expects to have his license to sell beer and wine by the end of the month, and plans on adding a full bar with mixed drinks this summer.
He opened just two weeks ago serving lunch and dinner and then added breakfast when customers told him they wished they did not have to drive all the way to the Dixie Diner in Laurel Park. Two tables of diners enjoying an early dinner on Monday night were repeat visitors from the Etowah area.
"The burgers are really good," said Ralph Sparks. "This is the second time we've been here. It's within four miles of the house."
Wilson, 33, and Philbrook plan to keep busy over the burners.
"This is the 17th day and we've been here every day 14 hours a day," he said.


Crossroads Grille
U.S. 64, Horse Shoe
Open 7 a.m.-10 p.m. Monday-Saturday; 7 a.m.-8 p.m. Sunday.
Serves breakfast, lunch and dinner.
Menu samples: Buttermilk pancakes and bacon or sausage, $5.95. Biscuit and homemade sausage gravy, $4.95. Half-pound Bacon Spectacular cheeseburger with side (soup, fries, red beans and rice, sweet potato, baked potato, vegetables, onion rings), $7.95. The Pounder, $9.95. Hand-cut 10-ounce rib-eye, $14.95. Jamaican Snapper with sweet coconut tomato glaze, $12.95. Honey-garlic glazed salmon, $14.95. Shrimp and grits, $12.95.
Beverages: Beer and wine (by end of the month), mixed drinks this summer.