Clayton News-Star

Business Briefing: Clayton’s new roof-top restaurant set to open this month

Antique furniture pieces like this one are found throughout Manning’s Restaurant in Clayton.
Antique furniture pieces like this one are found throughout Manning’s Restaurant in Clayton. ndunn@newsobserver.com

In two weeks’ time, people can sit on a rooftop in downtown Clayton and eat a salad, sandwich or steak.

Manning’s Restaurant, including its signature rooftop patio, is wrapping up construction at 406 E. Main St. and is scheduled to open Friday, Oct. 17.

Clayton resident and longtime chef Howard Manning has been working on the new restaurant for nearly two years. Needless to say, he’s ready to kick the doors open.

“I’m so excited to give people awesome food,” he said while standing next to the restaurant’s downstairs bar on Sept. 30.

The menu features Manning’s unique take on familiar Southern dishes, like a chicken and sausage gumbo entree and “Bacon and Blue” burger with Cajun seasoning, blue cheese dressing and bacon smoked over pecan wood. Manning said the restaurant will only use the finest Angus beef, including a center-cut, eight-ounce filet and a 14-ounce seasoned rib-eye.

Manning’s will use its own barbecue sauces, which will also be for sale near the hostess stand.

Patrons waiting for a table can relax on a Joggling board, or a pliable bench of sorts supported on both ends by wooden stands. The restaurant will be filled with artifacts and antiques that Manning said he has collected over the years.

This is the first restaurant the Marion, S.C., native will solely own and operate. However, Manning, 37, is no newcomer to the food industry. He’s worked in kitchens since he was 15, when he was a pot washer and cook through a Johnson & Wales University program in Brevard. He’s stayed in the kitchen ever since, and most recently, he was executive chef at the former Southend Brewery and Smokehouse and Yancy’s in downtown Raleigh.

Manning has taken home awards from multiple cooking contests, including the first-place prize for his barbecue in the 2013 Squealin’ on the Square competition in Clayton.

The downstairs portion of the restaurant will feature a dining area, bar and a private banquet room that can seat 25 people. A lounge and bar area upstairs will lead to the rooftop patio with nine tables that can seat 36 people.

Manning said the rooftop patio, which will be surrounded by plants and gooseneck lighting, will also feature live music acts.

Between cooks, waitresses and hostesses, the new restaurant has hired about 25 employees. Manning’s will be open every day but Tuesday.

For more information, search Manning’s Restaurant on Facebook.

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