The New Frontier of Flavor
Frontier Barbeque, open in Banner Elk for just more than a week, is already distinguishing itself for more than just the Texas beef brisket.
Eating at Frontier will likely be one of customers’ few chances to eat pulled pork prepared by a chef with a platinum pedigree.
Some High Country residents already know Bill Greene as the co-owner and executive chef of Artisanal, the fine dining restaurant in the exclusive Diamond Creek Golf Club, but they may not know about the pride with which he and wife Anita speak about running their businesses right.
The couple stresses the importance of keeping employees both happy and hardworking, setting the example themselves.
“We’re the first to come and the last to leave,” Anita said, explaining that before she married into the restaurant business, she used her engineering degree to help run factories for Hanes brands. “Managing people comes naturally to me.”
Bill’s extensive training and experience enables him to deliver excellence, whether preparing foie gras at Artisanal or baked beans at Frontier. Regarding his approach to Frontier’s brief menu, he said, “We strive for perfection…we’re very driven people.”
Raised in Avery County, Bill returned after a long and roundabout journey away, training at the prestigious Culinary Institute of America in New York. He has cooked in places that would earn the respect of any gourmet, including the five-diamond Phoenician Resort in Scottsdale, Ariz., and Le Cirque and the Waldorf-Astoria in New York City.
While a background is in fine dining, the couple is pleased that Bill can now use his skill in a restaurant accessible to all.
“I hope all people feel welcome coming to our restaurant,” Anita said, adding that at Frontier Barbeque, “…we’re simple and straightforward. We have a small menu and make what’s on the menu really nice.”
Frontier’s menu looks familiar with a few intriguing twists: Pulled pork, baby back ribs and collards share the menu with green onion hush puppies with maple butter and popcorn shrimp with smoked tomato relish. Unlike many restaurants, all dishes, including sides and desserts, are entirely made in-house.
The Greenes explained that their smoker cooks all day, and they don’t serve reheated food. Their concept for Frontier is excellent regional food at an affordable price. “This is a different end of the spectrum from Artisanal, but the same principle,” Bill said.
They also paid careful attention to creating their drinks list. Along with Miller Lite and Budweiser, patrons can order Angry Orchard hard cider or West Coast brews, such as Sierra Nevada and Lagunitas on tap.
Three cocktails with cute names like “The Porch Swing” share the menu with wines carefully chosen by Anita and Bill and available by the glass or bottle.
“We’re big beverage people,” Anita said. “We tasted all the wines.”
For Anita and Bill, responsible leadership and excellent food support each other. Anita described her management style by explaining that they let their workers know what is expected.
“We’re very structured, we have rules,” she said. “They’re very important to us.”
Loyal, long-term employees and a very low turnover rate are a testament to the effectiveness of their management. The Greenes are proud to be one of the largest employers in Avery County and said that they opened a second restaurant partly to employ their seasonal Artisanal employees year-round.
The Greenes’ approach to combining quality and employee satisfaction must be working. A new Frontier cook finished her first shift by patting Anita affectionately on the shoulder, and said, “The beans are done. And I had a wonderful day.”
Frontier Barbeque can be found at 4235 N.C. 105 South (formerly Pappy’s Barbeque) in Banner Elk. They’re open for lunch and dinner six days a week and are closed Tuesdays. For more information, call (828) 898-6777.
Got restaurant news? Email editor Frank Ruggiero at (email@example.com) or call (828) 264-6397.