Be There When Lightning Strikes

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Starring food and design, rooftop restaurant worth the wait

Patrons enjoy the bar at Shine, the rooftop restaurant at 202 N. Main St. that was eight years in the making. Patrons enjoy the bar at Shine, the rooftop restaurant at 202 N. Main St. that was eight years in the making.

The new Shine restaurant earns a lot of superlatives.

It’s downtown’s only three-story restaurant, the only one with a rooftop bar and the only one that took eight years to renovate.
On Sunday night, owners Layla and Bobby Rogers fed a small group of invited guests in a public debut of Shine that also served as a staff orientation. The food was delicious and attractively presented. The wait staff and cooks performed like they’d been doing their jobs forever and the craft beer and wine list had a taste and style for everyone.
ShineChrisNevel copyShine manager Chris Nevel greets diners.But it’s the building itself that stands out. Shine is like a new amusement park for dining, as if eager fans are waiting for new rides they’ve been hearing about forever. The signature rooftop bar — naturally a warm-weather space — won’t open until spring. The basement space is not open yet. That will be available as an event space or for special theme nights, such as a speak-easy with Prohibition-era jazz.
Between conducting a symphony of movement from the kitchen and wait staff, manager Chris Nevel greeted guests and doubled as a docent highlighting dozens of fine interior-design details, from giant sound-absorbing panels made of cork to the faded laundry company sign on a common wall that used to be an exterior wall.


What took so long?

Now that Shine is open, Bobby and Layla don’t run from the fact that it took a long time to finish. They own it. The “About us” feature on the restaurant’s website, which runs seven pages and includes 41 photos, tells the “remarkable story of why Shine took so long to create.”
A licensed contractor, Rogers aimed to preserve as much history as possible, “to look worn yet having state of the art systems.” He’s succeeded on both counts.
Adhering to the historic preservation standards of the National Park Service, Rogers, partner Eric McCollom and a team of craftsmen and engineers removed 20 layers of paint without sandblasting (verboten for a National Register building) and redesigned the entry using salvaged brick. They replaced a 20-foot load-bearing parapet wall with 21 support columns sunk into the earth. (That’s when they discovered the base was fill-dirt, requiring a year of excavation and foundation work.) They replaced walls and floors. “Basically you are standing in a 100-year-old building that’s brand new on the inside,” the explainer says. “This takes time.” The daunting task of replacing a structural wall required engineers, welders and Rogers’ crew to cut through 16 inches of brick. “Other than 20 tons of dirt, we also removed a six-square-foot safe, Bluebird Ice Cream’s giant concrete pad, beaten down cooler walls” and stacks of 2x2-foot concrete slabs that supported the heavy machinery of an old tin shop. After adding 73 yards of concrete, the builders were ready to add floors and walls. It was year 3.
The rooftop space — the “piece de resistance” — sits on a deck three feet above the roof to allow drainage and weight displacement on an iron I-beam system. Specialists included brick mason Dennis Griffin, who enforced the historical accuracy of the brickwork; cabinet maker Heath Patrick, who used 100-year-old reclaimed heart pine; and Craig Stanfield of Chestnut Forge and Furniture in Rutherfordton, who forged door handles from 1915 trolley tracks that ran from this building to the St. John Hotel, along with other metalwork features. “Fourteen bathrooms all feature historic touches of woodwork, tile and fixtures,” Shine says.


They have food, too

Food and beverage? Yep. They’ve got that too.
The bars — there’s a full bar on all three floors — feature 20 specialty cocktails ($7-10), a dozen choices of wine by the glass ($8-12) and 24 import and craft beer taps ($5-6).
Shinekassie copyKassie Griffin serves an entree at Shine.Appetizers include Cajun fried Boudin, General Sow’s Pig Tails, Smokey Mountain trout, Frog Leg Frite, duck fat fries and duck liver pate ($8-12). There are seven soups and salads, including Twenty One Chicken Stew ($5.25) and Shrimp Wedge ($14).
A grilled burger is $12, with choice of side item. There’s also pulled pork, French Dip, Duck Confit, Chicken’n’Pickle and Atlantic Cod.
Entrees include duck ($17.50), crab cakes ($16.50), sweet potato ravioli ($16.50), grilled prime ribeye ($36), Thai curry beef and scallops ($22) and shrimp tortellini ($16).
Eight years from the start of the project in the old Sinclair Office Supply store, the place really does shine. Diners are likely to find that it was the worth the wait.

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Shine, at 202 N. Main St., is open from 11 a.m. to 11 p.m. seven days a week.