A couple of weeks after prohibitionist community protests nearly derailed it, a Leah restaurant is now open for business.
And even its chickens are drinking beer.
The Little River Roadhouse at 6622 Washington Road, near the Little River Bridge on Ray Owens Road, opened July 3 with a menu proclaiming "smokin' butts" as a specialty.
"They're butt chickens where you take a beer can with your spices and all that stuff like vinegar and virgin olive oil and put it up the chicken's butt and put it on the smoker," said Cathy Walton, owner of Little River Roadhouse. "People absolutely love our ribs and we have hash and rice. We're about to expand the menu to include fried shrimp and fried catfish."
Featuring menu items that include Redneck Nachos, Butt Bits, I'd Kill for a Cheeseburger Right Now and the 330.6 Hot Dog, Little River Roadhouse is basically a barbecue restaurant. It offers several barbecue dishes and side dishes such as potato salad, coleslaw, baked beans, cheese and macaroni and potato chips.
The restaurant, in what once was an old bait and tackle shop, sits nearly 90 people inside and outside. It features a rustic decor with antique memorabilia.
The Little River Roadhouse opened on the site of a former bait shop.
Photo by Annette M. Drowlette
In spite of the chilly reception that greeted the restaurant's application to serve liquor, wine and beer, Walton said the community's response to the restaurant thus far as been excellent.
"I live on the lake and I know people in that area have badly wanted a sit-down restaurant," she said. "People have to drive to Lincolnton, Thomson or Augusta for that. It felt like we needed something up there and I'm from the community so I decided to do it."
The Columbia County Board of Commissioners two weeks ago granted Walton's application for a license to serve alcohol to diners after county officials said she met all of the county's requirements. Two area ministers were among those delivering impassioned speeches calling on commissioners to reject the license, but that didn't sway commissioners from unanimously approving the application. Walton received state approval Thursday for a pouring license.
"We've had a few people in the neighborhood opposed to alcohol in general," Walton said. "They had a voice, but other than that we've been embraced by the community. Everyone that comes in there loves the food and the fact that we have a full-service bar."
The fight, however, may not be over yet: Walton also has applied for a license to operate a package store at the site, and commissioners have tabled that request. Columbia County Planning Director Jeff Browning said that although the site has been used for commercial purposes for "decades," it's still on the county books as a residential property - and that means it would have to be rezoned before Walton could receive a liquor-store license.
Walton said she plans to apply for rezoning next month.
The Columbia County News-Times ©2013. All Rights Reserved.