New eatery offers specialty burgers

1 of 3

Brandon Clarke plates a burger Wednesday at Barley & Burger.


Staff Writer

Monday, November 19, 2018

People in the Twin Counties looking for a place to eat a burger somewhere other than a usual chain restaurant might want to check out a recently opened spot in town.

Barley and Burger, with a specialty of gourmet chef-driven burgers and local craft beer, opened Thursday at 2921 Zebulon Road. Ownership stake of the new restaurant consists of Travis and Kristi Ellis, Brandon Clarke and Etaf Rum.

Running the day-to-day operations of Barley and Burger are Travis Ellis and Clarke. Ellis and his wife, Kristi, are the owners of Goat Island Bottle Shop at the Rocky Mount Mills.

“We’ve been here 18 months for that business after relocating to the area,” Ellis said. “I like the growth of Rocky Mount and wanted to continue to support the community. Brandon and I thought this would be a good opportunity to bring something unique and a little different to Rocky Mount.”

Clarke, who is a Rocky Mount native, is no stranger to the restaurant industry. He said he spent 12 years as  a restaurant manager and helped open restaurants in the past in Greenville, Henderson and Hillsborough.

“I left for a little awhile and it has just been an itch to get back into it,” Clarke said. “I always like putting a smile on people’s faces serving good food, whether it be to one person or a thousand people — that’s what I do it for.”

Customers can choose from a variety of choices at Barley and Burger. The restaurant features 10 signature homemade burgers and artisan sandwiches. The owners said Barley and Burger’s meats are sourced from the highest quality black angus whole muscle cuts of short rib and chuck, produced by world renowned butcher and chef Pat LaFrieda.

The burgers and sandwiches are named after movies or movie characters that include the Rocky Balboa, which consists of American cheese, pickles, lettuce, onions, tomatoes and barbecue sauce, or the Ron Burgundy, with toppings that include bacon, Swiss cheese, guacamole, mayonnaise and tomatoes.

Around the dining room are portraits of several famous movie characters to reflect the movie-themed ambiance of the restaurant.

“Our thought was these are movies that anybody 25 or over has seen or will recognize that would bring back some fun memories,” Ellis said. “We thought it would be a good conversation piece to kind of tie in the appearance of the restaurant. It’s something different that you haven’t seen at another restaurant with a theme like this.”

Ellis said Barley and Burger has hired between 15 to 20 employees, including one of its two chefs who is a graduate of Nash Community College’s Culinary Arts program. The owners did a full remodeling of the kitchen and dinning room by adding booths to go with the tables and chairs. 

Ellis said Barley and Burger has seating for 74 and plans to add outdoor seating in the spring. The bar area consists of a choice of 12 beers on tap, which include a rotating selection of craft beer from all the breweries at the Rocky Mount Mills, other craft beers in North Carolina, traditional domestic beer selections and seven different wine options.

Barley and Burger replaced the former Spicy Pickle as the new tenant at Shoppes at Stoney Creek Plaza. The owners said they believe the location near U.S. 64 will allow the restaurant to draw traffic and are confident they have good food and a quality business plan to become a staple restaurant in the Twin Counties.

“We feel like we’re bringing a place that’s different than other burger restaurants in the area,” Clarke said. “We want this to be a place where families can come or a place where people can meet after work, hang out, get something to eat or get a beer or a glass of wine. We want people to come have a good time and have a good experience.”

Barley and Burger is open from 11 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. and 5 p.m. to 10 p.m. Monday through Thursday; 11 a.m. to 11 p.m. Friday and Saturday; and 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. Sunday.