South Charlotte

History inspires new restaurant

In the late 1800s, when many of the storefronts were built along York's historic North Congress Street, merchants lived on the second floor above their shops.

And a return to that living/working arrangement is what brought Colin and Ashley Flynn to York to open the Brandon House Restaurant in a 150-year-old building at 36 N. Congress St.

“Besides the convenience factor, we wanted to be close to our restaurant, and this old building has a good feel to it,” said Colin Flynn, 28, a graduate of the Le Cordon Bleu cooking school in Paris.

They enjoy living downtown in York and say it is generally quiet and pleasant except for Friday and Saturday nights.

“You'd be surprised at how much traffic comes up and down North Congress,” he said. “But it's generally calm, and the traffic should be good for the restaurant. Plus, we can walk around the corner or get anything we need within a five-minute drive.”

Ashley said one of the unexpected pluses of living in an antebellum house is a friendly ghost.

“I haven't seen or heard anything out of the ordinary, other than the normal creaks and groans of an old house,” she said with a laugh. “But I've had several people tell me rather matter-of-factly about a ghost that lives here.”

The couple grew up in Clover and River Hills and have had their eye on the Brandon House for a couple of years while they were living in Charleston.

The white clapboard building has a total of about 5,000 square feet, and in the back is a three-season, brick-floored New Orleans-style garden and dining area. The restaurant will open in late July for lunch, and for dinner by early fall. It will seat about 40 people. They will soon apply for a liquor license to serve beer, wine and mixed drinks.

Ashley, who has a bachelor's in art from Winthrop University, will run the “front of the house,” and Colin, who has a degree in history from the College of Charleston, will run the kitchen with an assistant at the grill.

Colin began his culinary career at the Boathouse on the Isle of Palms, McCrady's in Charleston and the French Laundry in Napa Valley. Most recently, he was executive sous chef at the Fat Hen on Johns Island, outside Charleston.

“I learned a lot working at these restaurants, but I was also putting in 60 to 70 hours a week and rarely seeing my wife and hardly ever getting back to York County,” he said.

He describes the restaurant as being “casual, but with a touch of modernity.”

The lunch menu will offer items such as sweet corn bisque with roasted red pepper and country ham; a butcher steak sandwich with caramelized onions and blue cheese butter; and shrimp and grits with andouille sausage, roasted tomato and peppers.

He wants to use as many S.C.-grown products at possible, such as York County peaches and Clemson Blue Cheese Cole Slaw. Ashley's grandmother – Nancy Lester of Clover – has even volunteered to help supply home-grown tomatoes from her backyard vegetable garden.

Colin plans to do as much of the food preparation in-house such as baking bread and making ice cream.

He said dinners will be more in the realm of fine dining but without “the cost and stuffiness associated with fine dining” – a kind of place where you could have chicken salad for lunch or celebrate an anniversary at dinner.

He added: “We definitely wanted to be in the Charlotte region but somewhere not consumed by the Big City,” he said. “We're country folks and the Brandon House will reflect that, casual but upscale.”

In the late 1800s, when many of the storefronts were built along York's historic North Congress Street, merchants lived on the second floor above their shops.

And a return to that living/working arrangement is what brought Colin and Ashley Flynn to York to open the Brandon House Restaurant in a 150-year-old building at 36 N. Congress St.

“Besides the convenience factor, we wanted to be close to our restaurant, and this old building has a good feel to it,” said Colin Flynn, 28, a graduate of the Le Cordon Bleu cooking school in Paris.

They enjoy living downtown in York and say it is generally quiet and pleasant except for Friday and Saturday nights.

“You'd be surprised at how much traffic comes up and down North Congress,” he said. “But it's generally calm, and the traffic should be good for the restaurant. Plus, we can walk around the corner or get anything we need within a five-minute drive.”

Ashley said one of the unexpected pluses of living in an antebellum house is a friendly ghost.

“I haven't seen or heard anything out of the ordinary, other than the normal creaks and groans of an old house,” she said with a laugh. “But I've had several people tell me rather matter-of-factly about a ghost that lives here.”

The couple grew up in Clover and River Hills and have had their eye on the Brandon House for a couple of years while they were living in Charleston.

The white clapboard building has a total of about 5,000 square feet, and in the back is a three-season, brick-floored New Orleans-style garden and dining area. The restaurant will open in late July for lunch, and for dinner by early fall. It will seat about 40 people. They will soon apply for a liquor license to serve beer, wine and mixed drinks.

Ashley, who has a bachelor's in art from Winthrop University, will run the “front of the house,” and Colin, who has a degree in history from the College of Charleston, will run the kitchen with an assistant at the grill.

Colin began his culinary career at the Boathouse on the Isle of Palms, McCrady's in Charleston and the French Laundry in Napa Valley. Most recently, he was executive sous chef at the Fat Hen on Johns Island, outside Charleston.

“I learned a lot working at these restaurants, but I was also putting in 60 to 70 hours a week and rarely seeing my wife and hardly ever getting back to York County,” he said.

He describes the restaurant as being “casual, but with a touch of modernity.”

The lunch menu will offer items such as sweet corn bisque with roasted red pepper and country ham; a butcher steak sandwich with caramelized onions and blue cheese butter; and shrimp and grits with andouille sausage, roasted tomato and peppers.

He wants to use as many S.C.-grown products at possible, such as York County peaches and Clemson Blue Cheese Cole Slaw. Ashley's grandmother – Nancy Lester of Clover – has even volunteered to help supply home-grown tomatoes from her backyard vegetable garden.

Colin plans to do as much of the food preparation in-house such as baking bread and making ice cream.

He said dinners will be more in the realm of fine dining but without “the cost and stuffiness associated with fine dining” – a kind of place where you could have chicken salad for lunch or celebrate an anniversary at dinner.

He added: “We definitely wanted to be in the Charlotte region but somewhere not consumed by the Big City,” he said. “We're country folks and the Brandon House will reflect that, casual but upscale.”

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