Carter at Main Restaurant offers ambience

  By Lesley Hughes
star staff
  A woman's love of history, fine dining, and Carter County fueled the opening of an American style restaurant with a pinch of Southern flavor.
  Carter at Main Restaurant opened four weeks ago under the ownership of Linda Whitehead and management of Sheryl Garland. Located in the former home of Samuel Powhatan Carter at 829 East Elk Ave., the restaurant has been infused with historical murals and restored architecture, all while developing the home into an atmosphere fit for fine dining.
   Large enough for business dinners, lunch meetings, and family reunions, the restaurant is certified to hold 152 diners. Accommodations also provide enough ambience for a romantic dinner for two to feel like they are the only people in the restaurant or the world.
   Whitehead, owner of Century 21 Whitehead Realty, worked for two years since purchasing the home to refurbish it into a restaurant.
  "I am just so excited that I have this house that has been in the Carter family for all these years. I always knew there was a need and I thought it would be perfect for a restaurant, but I don't know how to run a restaurant," Whitehead said.
   Garland, formerly of the Duck Duck Goose Café, agreed to a position as General Manager. "Her plan and what she had to offer was everything I wanted to do. When the opportunity came for me to still do the work I love in the setting that I always wanted I was glad to come aboard. I just know the need in this area for this type of dining and the need for this type of service that we can offer as far as catering on and off premises. There won't be anything around here to compare to it," Garland said.
  Future dreams for Carter at Main include finishing construction of outdoor dining decks in the spring using an existing well to create a fountain and pond and a gazebo on the four-acre property.
   The over 1,000 square foot kitchen, which was added on to the house before the opening, will also undergo an addition to allow for more room for the executive chef, sous chef, and bakery.
   Scheduled to open soon, the bakery will offer cakes, pies, and coffees. Along with the catering side of the business, the bakery will also be available for weddings.
  Once the bakery opens, breakfast will be served at 8 a.m. Currently, a continental breakfast is available on Saturdays at 7 a.m.
  Executive Chef Valerie Brucker's background includes creating the menu for Carter at Main and working in the kitchens of a Rochester, N.Y. country club and the Grove Park Inn in Asheville, N.C.
  Lunch and dinner menus allow diners to choose from several appetizers, sandwiches, salads, pasta, chicken, seafood or steak entrees. A splash of southern style is available in Pecan Crusted Trout, Shrimp and Grits, and Fried Green Tomatoes.
  The dining atmosphere was created by Leta Hale, owner of Leta's Specialty Shop, on East Elk Avenue. Hale also helped Whitehead decide the color of the paint for the restaurant's exterior.
  Murals filled with historic landmarks around Elizabethton were painted by Lisa Sneed. Images of Elizabethton City Hall, Carter County Courthouse, the Covered Bridge, the City of Power sign, the former Lynnwood Hotel, and Elk Avenue line the walls of the parlor.
  Whitehead also dreams of building a hotel resembling the Lynnwood Hotel on part of the land. "I would love to duplicate it if I could, if I could find some plans," Whitehead said. She also spoke of trying to locate the former picture of Landon and Elizabeth Carter which was sold at auction years ago.
   Carter at Main is open Monday thru Thursday from 11 a.m. to 9 p.m., Friday and Saturday 11 a.m. until the last customer is served (around midnight), and from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. on Sunday. Breakfast is available on Saturday mornings at 7 a.m.
  Besides the items offered on the menu, Whitehead said the chefs will work with any special requests and will also be offering South Beach Diet items in January 2005. The menu already offers several low carb entrees for lunch and dinner. All menu items are available for take-out when ordered ahead.
  For catering services or reservations, not necessary but recommended for large parties, please call 543-4212. A Web site will be available soon at Gift certificates can be purchased in any amount at the front desk.
  "One of the things that is my goal is that, here, it is the history of Carter County. This house was closed up and hardly anyone was allowed inside ... For me to be able to open this (house) up and share it with everyone in Carter County, it means a lot to me," Whitehead said.