Eulogy for Two of My Favorite Restaurants
So far in 2018 two of my favorite restaurants have closed down. I thought I’d spend some time reflecting on these establishments that once brought me so much joy.
The first is a chain restaurant by the name of Newk’s Eatery. The entire franchise didn’t close, just the location nearby in Cary. I first heard about Newks from my friend Brady, whose brother was managing one near Memphis. He talked up the Newk’s Q sandwich which was a white barbeque sandwich and I knew I wanted to try it. I got my chance when a Newk’s opened up in Winston-Salem. It quickly became the place Brittni and I would stop at one our way home from visiting my dad until last year when that location closed.
Luckily for me, the location in Cary had already opened up and seemed to be doing well. We went several times, but my beloved Newk’s Q sandwich clocked in at 1,150 calories, so I tried not to make it a habit of going to often. Speaking of the Newk’s Q, just look at this beauty:
It’s a sandwich with sliced chicken, bacon, swiss cheese, and a white barbecue sauce. The white sauce is an Alabama style sauce that has a mayonnaise base. It sounds disgusting, but trust me, it’s amazing. Man do I love that sandwich.
My favorite Newk’s memory comes is a trip that Brittni and I made there on Christmas Eve in 2016. Christmas is always stressful, and both of our families are divorced and all of them live far away, so it’s not ever an easy time around the holidays. The week leading up to Christmas and the week after usually suck and it’s hard to find a moment to catch your breath. One this particular Christmas Eve we drove into Cary to do some last minute shopping. It was crazy and chaotic, but we managed to get through it. I was hungry and decided a special trip to Newk’s was in order. We stopped in, had a great server, and was able to relax. The restaurant wasn’t too busy and in fact, it was peaceful. We had a good meal and some good conversation and it ended up being my favorite Christmas memory possibly of my entire adult life. It was so good, I wanted to start making a Newk’s trip a yearly tradition. Sadly, all those Christmas plans ended up ruining that possibility last year and well… I guess with Newk’s closed, I won’t be doing it this year either.
There are still a handful of Newk’s opened in North Carolina, with the closest to me being an hour and a half away in Greensboro. I’m sure I’ll find my way into a Newk’s once again, sometime in the future.
The second restaurant I’d like to talk about is Grill 57. Grill 57 was a burger and hot dog joint on Fayetteville Street in Raleigh, North Carolina. It was one of those places that hosted drive-ins and mini car shows and had a 50’s theme to it. Inside the restaurant were all kinds of cool pictures from North Carolina’s past like The Lone Ranger visiting Raleigh and Andy Griffith doing all sorts of things throughout the state.
The place was a little run down with some of the seats covered in duct tape, but it was always clean. They served traditional burger stuff like crinkle fries and onion rings, and they made all the food fresh to order. The burgers were small, more like the size that you would have found in the 1950’s (Think regular McDonalds hamburger size) and two burgers seemed to really hit the spot. On the weekends they ran great deals like two burgers for three bucks. The burgers were moist and seasoned perfectly and in my eyes were the perfect hamburgers.
It seemed like Sunday mornings I always got a craving for a good burger and Brittni and I would load up and head over to Grill 57. I liked getting there first thing in the morning before the crowds around 11 AM. We’d enjoy a quiet lunch before swinging by Big Lots which is located in the same shopping center.
I don’t have any particular memory that comes to mind like with Newk’s, but I’m really gonna miss Grill 57, probably more than Newk’s. It was a great little place with fantastic service that really made my Sundays extra special. Sadly, it’s gone and from what I’ve been able to tell, it looks like it’ll be replaced by a Steak N’ Shake, which is a decent alternative. There is not a Steak N Shake on this side of town and at least it’s similar in menu to Grill 57.
All things change and in an area with out of control rental prices, it’s not too surprising to see restaurants come and go. It’s just a bummer that two of my favorites are now gone. Well… I guess I’m off to find another “Best Burger in the Raleigh Area” now.