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Ethan Herman (left), Rachel Herman, Deana Spainhour and Wes Spainhour will be opening “Local Roots” on East Water Street in Lincolnton in the coming year.

A new restaurant will be setting roots in downtown Lincolnton. At their regular meeting on Thursday, Dec. 5, members of the Lincolnton City Council approved the proposal that they had received from Ethan and Rachel Herman and Wes and Deana Spainhour to open an up-scale restaurant on city-owned property at 110-116 East Water Street. The restaurant will be called “Local Roots.”

The Hermans and Spainhours were first neighbors living in Lincolnton and in time became friends. All four are “foodies” and spent time back and forth between their homes hosting dinner parties. The idea to open a restaurant was hatched while they were all sitting in the Spainhour garage.

“Opening a restaurant is a good fit for us,” said Ethan Herman, who was born and raised in western Lincoln County. “We wanted to really root ourselves into the community. I knew this was something that Lincolnton has needed for quite some time.”

While spending time at Untapped Territory, which is next door to the property on East Main Street, the two couples noticed the building and thought that it would make a great restaurant space. This was before the city purchased it.

“We tried to figure out who owned it,” Rachel Herman said. “We’d heard that the previous owner had fallen through with whatever they were planning on doing in it. When we found out the city purchased it and had this proposal set up, we decided this was our shot.”

The skill set that each individual brings to the table is almost a marriage made in heaven as far as running a restaurant is concerned. Wes Spainhour, who graduated from Johnson & Wales University when it was still in Charleston, South Carolina, is the chef of the group. He brings 15 years of restaurant experience, including working as the sous chef at Harvest Moon Grill in Lincolnton, to the table. His wife, Deana Spainhour, currently works as an investment and trust representative at the Lincolnton branch of the State Employees Credit Union and her experience is in finance. Rachel Herman’s background is in human resource management and she’ll be charged with hiring and training staff and dealing with all of the staffing functions. She’ll also do some marketing. She currently works in real estate and has connections throughout the county. Ethan Herman has a general contractor’s license and will oversee construction and development of the project as well as the management of the restaurant itself. His background and degree are in entrepreneurship.

Except for Wes Spainhour, who will be the full-time chef at the restaurant, the others will continue with their regular jobs. The hope is to hire at least 20 people to start out. The menu will be southern-inspired. The plan is to source, as much as possible, food from local farmers. 

“We want to stay seasonal, so winter may be hard,” Wes Spainhour said. “I’m going to reach out to local farmers that I know from the area for the summer.”

Maintaining the fabric of the community, including its southern culture and history of the building, is of high importance to the group. The second floor will be restored and used for event space. The group also want to feature local artists and music once the restaurant is opened.

As detailed in their proposal, which was approved by the city, the price point for lunch is $15/person and for dinner $30/person. Total estimated construction cost is $450,000 to $600,000. The applicants requested that $300,000 to $350,000 of this be paid by the city to invest into the building’s infrastructure. The total estimated restaurant start-up cost is $220,000 and will be paid through personal financing, loans through institutions and angel investors. The applicants indicated that they would like to utilize the $200,000 matching grant money being offered by the city. They also proposed a lease with the option to purchase.

The anticipated opening date will be between October 2020 to January 2021.

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