Carolina Crossroads restaurant, a bastion of formal dining at the Carolina Inn, will undergo a major renovation that will increase its seating capacity and make the "overall look and feel comfortable, open and more casual," according to Area General Manager Mark Sherburne.
Sherburne made the surprise announcement Saturday during a swanky 90th anniversary dinner event. Carolina Crossroads is expected to close soon after Mother's Day/Graduation weekend, with construction continuing through at least late August.
The current lounge and restaurant spaces will be flipped, with the lounge moving into the restaurant location and the restaurant taking over the lounge and North Parlor. This will increase seating on both sides as well as create opportunities for patrons to enjoy a new outdoor area featuring a fire pit and lounge-dining seating.
Sherburne says the style will reflect "a blend of traditional and contemporary" design elements. Sketches of the new look are not available, he says. The renovation also will include functional improvements in the kitchen.
The Carolina Inn is owned by the University of North Carolina. In recent years, nearly all of the guest accomodations except the restaurant have been updated.
Carolina Crossroads has long been a favorite among UNC parents and tradition-loving locals—some of whom were familiar with vintage menus offering steak dinners for $3 that were on display during the anniversary celebration.
Executive Chef James Clark says that some long-time regulars expressed concern Saturday about pending changes. "We will have a new look and a new menu, but I think everyone will be thrilled with the changes," he says. "Our goal is to make it a great experience for even more people."
During the transition, the kitchen will offer a limited menu for hotel guests. The Inn will add a permament "grab and go" market that will include a coffee shop with house-made pastries, salads and sandwiches.
Renovation plans will not disturb the Inn's popular Fridays on the Front Porch music gatherings, which begins April 24. Clark says they may collaborate with food trucks since the Inn will not be able to offer food for sale.