Clayton residents Stew and Cassie Windle have long dreamed of opening a restaurant. In a couple of weeks, they’ll make that dream a reality.
Stew, who operates Atlantic Glass on East Main Street, and Cassie, a former elementary school teacher, say Riff’s Burgers and Blues will open in early September. They’ll formally welcome the public on Sept. 13, with a grand-opening party with live music, vendors and activities for kids at the restaurant, located next to Zaxby’s in the Walmart shopping center.
The Windles, who moved to Clayton about eight years ago, said they wanted to bring a different dining experience to town, one they say is down-home but will also make patrons feel like they’re on vacation. They hope to make that happen through their love of music, whether that be guitars and records hanging on the walls or live performances by musicians during the week.
“We’ve seen a lot of places out of town that have cool atmospheres, and we want to provide a place like that locally,” Stew said.
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The restaurant will serve gourmet burgers, ribs, barbecue, chicken, and shrimp and grits, among other dishes, in both the dining room and bar. The menu will also offer vegetarian and gluten-free fare.
Four rotating taps in the bar will pour local craft beers, and Stew said bar manager Adam Dillard has designed a drink menu that includes custom selections like “Muddy Waters,” a tribute to the famous blues musician.
The bar area has custom-painted chairs that further the blues theme. Mary Catherine Foust of Clayton designed the chairs, some of which are painted with the faces of famous musicians and quotes like “The blues ain’t nothing but a good man feeling bad,” from Leon Redbone.
Foust is the art teacher at Powhatan Elementary School, where Cassie worked until resigning to take over the restaurant. Some of Foust’s students also painted music records, which are now hanging on a wall in the bar.
“We want it to be a family atmosphere,” Cassie said, adding that she and Stew have two children, Logan, 11, and Layla, 7, and another one on the way.
While developing the restaurant earlier this year, the Windles nearly doubled the size of the building. The site, as 12849 U.S. 70 Business West, was formerly home to a Wendy’s restaurant.
The Windles say they hope to hire 30-40 employees to work at the restaurant. For more information, search for Riff’s Burgers and Blues on Facebook.