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Penny Lane Pub opens in Boone



Article Published: Mar. 18, 2010 | Modified: Sep. 19, 2011
Penny Lane Pub opens in Boone

Francesca Rollo, owner of the Penny Lane Pub, serves up a pint and a laugh.

Photo by Frank Ruggiero



Penny Lane's no longer just in your ears and in your eyes.

It's off Bamboo Road in Boone, but there could very well be a barber sharing photographs.

Penny Lane Pub opened last month at the Deer Valley Racquet Club, serving the tastes, sounds and downright jolliness of Great Britain.

"My family's always been in the pub business," owner Francesca Rollo said. "My grandfather started our first pub in Liverpool (England). During World War II, my grandmother ran the pub all by herself, and she had five kids."

One of said kids is Ken Silva, Liverpool native, friend to the Beatles, and founder of the U.S. salon chain, Smart Cuts. Rollo ran a salon in Jacksonville, Fla., where she and husband Matthew, who's currently serving in the U.S. Navy, lived, until Silva moved to Boone.

Wishing to be closer to her parents, Rollo headed north and continued the family tradition. When a restaurant opportunity opened at Deer Valley, Rollo seized the moment. With a keen sense of taste, Rollo set up shop.

Like her father, Rollo is self-taught, and using her own kitchen as a testing ground, she developed Penny Lane's unique menu - unique, in that it's not your average pub fare. A self-taught chef, Rollo prides herself on every menu item, all fresh and homemade, from shepherd's pie to fish and chips to bangers (English sausages) and mash.

"Everything's fresh here," she said. "Our shepherd pie's made fresh every day, the sausage brought in every morning, and as for the fish and chips, you wouldn't know you're not in England."

Silva can attest.

"He said without a doubt it's the best fish and chips he's ever had," Rollo said, "that the shops in England don't even compare to ours."

The dish is fresh cod coated in beer batter, fried to perfection and served with chips - the British variety, that is. The shepherd's pie is chockfull of ground beef with onions, peas, corn and carrots, topped with mash potatoes and cheese. Then there's the ploughman's special, a diner's choice of roast beef or turkey, stacked high on fresh-baked bread and topped with cheese, onions, lettuce, tomato and mayonnaise, served with a side of British chips.

Sausages arrive fresh daily, later finding their way into traditional dishes like bangers and mash and sausage rolls.
The curried chicken salad features all white-meat chicken in a sweet and savory curry sauce, served in a whole wheat wrap with a side of Granny Smith apple cabbage.

Rollo acknowledged that Britain's not necessarily known for its cuisine, but by putting a fresh spin on pub grub, she hopes customers will do a double take.

The same applies for more traditional menu items, like a chicken Caesar salad. The chicken is roasted every day, sliced to order and put to bed on the salad.

Other dishes include a carrot and honey salad, featuring fresh spinach tossed in a warm honey dressing and topped with carrots, pine nuts and goat cheese, a steak sandwich of seared ribeye on fresh sourdough, topped with caramelized onions, horseradish and a sweet cherry glaze, a black, blue and bacon burger, chicken wings, cheesy chips and a turkey BLT wrap.

"Everything is homemade," Rollo said. "I won't put anything in my kitchen that's not fresh - I don't approve of it."

Rollo hopes to separate Penny Lane Pub, food-wise, from anything else in the area.

"We didn't want to be a bar," she said. "There's a very distinct difference between a pub and a bar. I want to pride ourselves on the food and then have a beer with it. It's all about atmosphere, and to say we've got great food to go along with great drinks, I don't know of anything that can compare."

Rollo's mother, Nina, emphasized the importance of atmosphere, something Rollo took to heart. With pub supplies, compliments of a family friend, and an absolute love for the Beatles, she designed Penny Lane Pub to have all the comforts of a prime British public house.

"My mom always said atmosphere is the most important thing - atmosphere, service and consistency with your food," she said. "I feel you should know every part of the business, and the same goes for my employees. Everyone here is indispensable, as far as I'm concerned."

Like so, Rollo takes part in all aspects of the restaurant - bartending, waiting, cooking, hosting and, in this case, listening to Beatles music. "My dad grew up with the Beatles, so that was kind of my inspiration," she said, adding that in Liverpool, her father was even a groomsman in Paul McCartney's brother's wedding.

Find him there, and he might even share some photographs.

Penny Lane Pub is open, and serving its full menu, from 11:30 a.m. to 10 p.m. Monday through Thursday, and 11:30 a.m. to midnight Friday, Saturday and Sunday.

"And obviously, we'll stay open later if necessary," Rollo said.

Penny Lane Pub is located at Deer Valley Racquet Club, 507 Bamboo Road, in Boone, and club membership is not required to dine there. For more information, call (828) 355-9775.



Beat It
Got restaurant news? E-mail editor Frank Ruggiero at (frank@mountaintimes.com) , snail mail Mountain Times Publications, Attn: Frank Ruggiero, 474 Industrial Park Drive, Boone, N.C. 28607, or call (828) 264-NEWS and ask for Frank.

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