The Coast comes to Clemmons

As you may or may not know, there is an oyster bar in Clemmons that has gotten rave reviews and been open since July 4th weekend, 2003.  This past week, I had the opportunity to speak to Rob Fox who with the owner’s son Rob Russell manages the Full Moon Oyster Bar. The actual owner is Randy Russell.  Randy and 4 of his friends are avid anglers with a love of seafood.

Randy’s drive behind opening the bar was that he and his 4 friends wanted an old fashioned coastal style oyster steam house closer to his home in Lewisville. He travelled up and down the East coast exploring and asking questions about what it would take to make a successful oyster steam house. The result is a bar that seats 50 and an interior designed to make you think you are at the coast (any coast). There are no tables, so as with most bars, by the end of your meal you have met the person next to you who may turn into a friend. The motto of the bar is “Come as a stranger and leave as a friend”.

Rob says that opening the restaurant turned into a Labor of Love due to all of the hands that came forward to pitch in with building the interior of the bar.  By the time they put the open sign up there were people lined up ready willing and able to eat. Rob calls that time a “honeymoon” period. 

One thing that stands out to the patrons is the freshness of the seafood. Rob says that most of the food hits the table within 36 hours of it being caught. Some of that comes from the owner also owning the Big Tuna seafood Company right here in Winston. That wholesale company was born of necessity when Randy wanted more control over what he was getting. The 125 restaurants it serves get the best of the best in their choices of fresh seafood from around the globe.  At the Oyster bar, besides the fresh seafood, you can also enjoy steak & chicken.  The most often asked for meal is the Full Moon Entrée, which has a dose of just about everything and will satisfy the hunger of 2 people.

Rob and I also talked about the customers that come in. When you visit, you could be seated next to families with visiting relatives or business associates conducting meetings. That diversity makes for an enjoyable and welcoming experience for all.

The Full Moon Bar is open to have franchises but according to Rob it will take blood sweat and tears to make it successful. Part of that success comes from having a staff of “shuckers” who are friendly, and full of personality. Evidently some of them even have their own following.

If you have a love of seafood or just want to expand your taste buds, visit the Full Moon Oyster Bar in Clemmons, North Carolina. Rob and his team will make it a memorable experience. The restaurant is located at 1473 River Ridge Dr., Clemmons, NC. The phone number is (336)-712-8200. They are open at 4pm every day with varied closing times.

If you are looking to start your own seafood place or any other restaurant, visiting the website: just makes sense.

As always, thanks for reading and I will continue to feed you the great places to eat in North and South Carolina



Ardmore Area Treasure

Meet Justin and Sarah Hummell, current owners of the Café Roche Coffeehouse, formerly Roche Coffee.  Justin and Sarah hail from Buffalo New York, where Sarah at the young age of 16 started working in her first coffee shop.

Her employer at the time believed in knowing your coffee and was known to travel the globe to learn as much as she could about coffee from the “crop to the cup”.  Sarah tells me that she and her fellow workers were subjected to weekly written tests and demonstrations on the proper way to prepare the various kinds of coffee drinks.  After she had been there about 6 months, Sarah says she had an epiphany, while wiping down tables, that she “could totally do this”, meaning own a coffee shop.  So she picked a college that would help her achieve that goal. During her years at college and the first jobs after college, she knew she was on a great path but felt that there was something missing.  That something ended up coming in the form of Roche Coffee house in the Ardmore area of Winston Salem.

Her husband Justin had been transferred to Winston and was just waiting for Sarah to join him when he had a meeting at the local coffee shop.  Justin talked to the owner about what it would take to open their own shop. Imagine his surprise when Mr. Roche told him “why don’t you just buy this one”. Justin immediately called Sarah who in disbelief hung up on him twice; then she took the next flight here.  They bought the business and reopened under the name Café Roche on June 1, 2008. Sarah says the biggest obstacle they face with taking over ownership was gaining the respect of the previous owners loyal customers. Most thought that Sarah at 26 was just too young to know how to run a business much less know anything about coffee.  In time she gained their respect and most have continued their patronage.

Sarah loves what she is doing and that shows in her knowledge of coffee and the pride she has taken in the décor of the coffeehouse.  Sarah, like her mentor has travelled all over and drags Justin into every coffee shop she sees.  Café Roche offers many varieties of coffee and she is proud to say that all offered are either direct-trade or fair-trade certified brands.  Upon entering the door you are welcomed by the warm colors and the fabulous smells.  There is quirkiness to the place which makes it totally welcoming.  For all those who never thought they could be Barbie or Ken, here all it takes is using the restroom, the doors of which are labeled “Barbie & Ken”.  You have to admit that is an inventive and unique spin on the old standards.  In the back of the house, there is a small lounge with comfortable seating and starting December 2, 2010 they will be offering open acoustic nights on Thursdays.

So if you want to get your “fix” or have Sarah whip you up something you have never tried, I would suggest visiting Café Roche Coffee house which can be found at 1316 Hawthorne Rd in Winston Salem.  While it is a great idea to support local shops, Café Roche makes that easier to do by their philosophy on giving back to the community.  Sarah tells me that she is not one to decline a request for donations when asked.  The most recent recipients of their generosity were Operation Sweet Tooth and Habitat for Humanity.

Visit the Café Roche Facebook page and their website for all the latest items on their menus.  Remember for all your restaurant questions; check out Clinard Insurance’s The restaurant Insurance Store.

As always, thanks for taking the time to visit. I will continue to feed you information about great places to eat and drink in North and South Carolina.


Smoke on the Square

What better name for this blog than the name of the restaurant that will be featured. I tried to think of an actual title, but this seemed to flow.  Once again we are visiting the Shelby area where it is evident that my readers down there have a wealth of great places to dine.

Smoke on the Square appropriately enough is in the location of the original Shelby firehouse. That firehouse which was built in 1909 also housed the first A&P and was the first location of the city council for Shelby.  Thomas Tessneer and his business partner father honor those that have come before them with a mural painted by Gaffney, NC artist Shane White, which depicts the town as it used to be with the landscape to reflect the current efforts to revitalize the uptown area. Thomas a native of Patterson Springs comes to the restaurant business with a wealth of knowledge, experience and a bit of pride in his hometown.  He started out about 15 years ago doing chili contests and is a member of the Kansas City BBQ society.  In 2007 his Mountain Magic BBQ ranked 32nd out of over 8000 teams at the annual Jack Daniels barbecue world championship in Lynchburg, TN. Most recently he claimed the coveted 1st prizes, at the local Hog Happenin, individually in the meat, stew/gumbo & seafood categories.  His main reason for opening his restaurant according to him was simply because he loves it. 

According to Thomas, what drives him to make this endeavor successful is the desire to bring “life back to uptown, in his hometown”. He is making his mark doing this by buying as much locally grown and harvested food as he can. He scours local farmers markets looking for the freshest and best ingredients.  Those ingredients are what make menu items like his grilled shrimp and grits a hit with anyone who tries them.  

We talked about his childhood friend Clayton Wilkinson taking over as head chef in February when he graduates from culinary school.  Clayton currently works in the kitchen at Smoke on the Square but is looking forward to the promotion.  When this transition happens, they will still be offering their award winning low country cuisine and steakhouse fare.  One thing I found out during this conversation was that Thomas and his staff only uses steaks that have been aged for 29 days. 

Thomas’ advice for new business owners is to do it only if “your heart is in it”.  Having that heart made dealing with the local politics very much worth it.  His biggest headache before opening on November 17, 2009 was getting all the required permits (i.e. city, fire, etc). 

So if you are looking to dine out in an upscale atmosphere that is family friendly try out Smoke on the Square where you can also book his private party room which features seating for 40 and boasts a big screen television. You can also try his catering business which offers features like a sauté station, ice sculptures, fruit carvings, etc.   If for nothing else visit Thomas and his staff because they are helping to revitalize the uptown area and are proud to do so.

The website for the restaurant is  The physical address is: 5 East Marion Street, Shelby, NC 28150 (704) 406-9246().  They can also be found on the Clinard Insurance partners Page and on Facebook

One last thing, if you are in the restaurant business and could use help growing your business or have general insurance questions, visit the restaurant guide at Clinard Insurance | The Restaurant Insurance Store

As always, thanks for taking the time to visit. I will continue to feed you information about great places to eat in North and South Carolina



What started out as a hobby for North Carolina native Eric Pardo of Big E’s Barbq, has turned into a thriving catering business and restaurant.  While working as an electrician full time and cooking barbecue for family and friends, Eric started his part-time catering business. According to Eric, “more people tried it and liked it” and that started him experimenting with seasoning and flavors. As the catering was growing, he would receive orders on Thursday, cook all day on Friday and make deliveries on Saturday, still working as an electrician the rest of the week. Eric told me that he enjoyed the catering so much that he decided to go with that full time and started thinking about opening his own restaurant.

The site for the restaurant is an old Burger King close to I-85 in Kings Mountain, North Carolina. While the bare bones were there for a restaurant, Eric had plenty of choices to make when it came to setting up the kitchen. Keep in mind that he was running a catering business at the same time. Everything came together and he was able to open in June of 2009.

Prior to opening his restaurant, he entered the Gastonia Cook off in 2008 and won the Blue Ribbon for his barbecue pork, also that same year he took home 1st prize for his ribs at a cook off in Lincolnton. He tells me that the secret to a great barbecue is the seasoning. He makes 6 to 9 gallons of his own sauce everyday and serves it with just about everything on his menu. He also makes his own coleslaw and several other dishes.

When asked what has surprised him the most, he replied the success of his steaks. He says “they are really starting to take off”. Along with those mouth watering steaks, you can find brisket, pulled/chopped/sliced bbq, homemade mac n cheese, fresh cut French fries, bakes beans and many other southern bbq favorites.

On the catering side of the business, he stays booked about 1 month in advance and can cater anything from 10 to 1000 people. He recently catered a barbecue for the Cleveland County employees of which there were about 900 people.

So if you are driving through Kings Mountain, live in the area, or if you need to have an event catered, check out Big E’s Barbq for mouth watering, prize winning barbecue.  His website is .  You can also find him on Facebook @

Are you looking to start or grow your own restaurant business? Visit Clinard Insurance for lots of helpful tips. As always, thanks for taking the time to visit my blog. I will continue to feed you information about great places to eat in North and South Carolina

Gina is the social media czar for Clinard Insurance Group, located in Winston Salem, NC. Clinard Insurance Group is an independent insurance agency that specializes in helping all kinds of restaurants all across NC and SC with their restaurant insurance needs as well as helping them gain and keep more business with digital marketing. You can learn more about them at