Owner reopens restaurant in historic home
Published 8:53 am Wednesday, July 15, 2015
It’s hard for motorists to miss the red historic house peeking out from behind trees on the corner property at the end of East Elk Avenue.
Carter at Main owner Linda Whitehead’s hard work and dedication to providing Elizabethton with an upper-class and historic dining experience is evident throughout the house.
“It took me about a year and a half to restore it,” she said. “I wanted to keep it as original as possible.”
Whitehead began the process of renovating the house for her business in 2003, when she bought it at auction. Carter at Main officially opened in December 2004 only to close to the general public four years later.
“We stopped our full-time services,” she said. “We remained open for special events and weddings.”
Now, Carter at Main is once again open to the general public for dining.
Whitehead is proud and excited to share the local and family history of the house in which her business is stationed.
The Carter at Main house originally was known as the Alfred Moore Carter house, which is believed to have been built in the 1700s. It remained in that family for more than 180 years.
“Alfred Moore Carter was the most famous of Landon Carter’s children,” Whitehead said. “Carter County was named after Landon, and just think, Mr. Carter’s wife, Elizabeth, was who Elizabethton was named after.”
The front of the first Carter at Main menu boasts the home’s Greek Revival-style features and the fact that it is on the site of an old Native American village.
Decorative carvings can be found throughout the home, as well as murals and other subtle details painted by local artists. A mural in the main hallway of the home depicts the house in its original state alongside the Elizabethton/Carter County Veterans Memorial, the Covered Bridge and other historic local sites.
Whitehead has now considers the business as a way for her family to add to the house’s history and to allow the community to be a part of it as well.
“I saw the character in this house,” she said. “It was just sitting here for years. I saw what it could be, so I invested my life savings into this property.”
Whitehead’s granddaughter Olivia Bowers, who has been named restaurant manager, sees a bright future for the business.
“It’s a family affair,” Bowers said. “We all work together to keep it running smoothly.”
She said the restaurant offers a wide range of options to meet any kind of budget. The restaurant offers brunch, lunch and dinner as well as catering services. They also offer an array of fine wines.
There are a total of six rooms inside Carter at Main. They include the main dining room, parlor, library, bar, butterscotch banquet room and the french room upstairs. The venue may hold up to 150 people inside, but has an unlimited amount of space outdoors.
“I added on the kitchen parts and the upper and lower patios,” Whitehead said. “I added an outside bar and fireplace area.”
Whitehead also upcycled some brick from a chimney that was removed because it was no longer functional.
“We used these over 200-year-old bricks to make the wall where the fireplace is located,” she said. “I heard they were hand-carried from New England. I did not want to trash them. I also didn’t want them behind a wall for no one to see.”
A gazebo was also added to the property to attract more people looking for a wedding venue.
Whitehead reopened the business a little more than a month ago, but wanted to do a soft opening at first.
“We wanted to make sure our servers were well-trained,” she said. “We wanted our kitchen to have time to get organized.”
She’s now ready to announce details for a grand opening celebration set for July 24.
Live music will begin at 7 p.m., but there will be food and drink specials going on all day. Entertainment will be provided by Jessie Lewis, who is a local bluegrass musician, in the patio area. The patio bar will be open for the celebration. The day’s events will kick off with a ribbon cutting earlier in the day.
“We will also be doing a contest and giveaway,” Bowers said. “For every entree purchased, customers will get a ticket.”
The ticket will give customers a chance to enter a drawing for a gift certificate.
Overall Whitehead has found the process of revitalizing and opening the historic home to the public to be difficult, but entirely worth it.
“This is such a special place,” Whitehead said. “This house is a part of our history and that’s why I’ve worked so hard. Elizabethton needs and deserves a place like this.”