New oyster bar open for business at Silver Lake

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After much anticipation, seafood is again being served at Silver Lake, even if the lake itself does have some time before it is restored.

“This is a new chapter for this restaurant and we hope to build on the success that Buck created,” said Richard Millinder, co-owner of R&R Oyster Bar at Silver Lake. “People loved Buck and they loved coming here, so we want to build on that while we transition to a similar but upgraded menu.”

The sprawling restaurant on the shores of Silver Lake was first opened by Buck Dixon in 1969. Millinder himself worked there while attending college before pursuing a career in the restaurant business and property management.

He recently moved back to Wilson and partnered with Rhonda Chance to open R&R Oyster Bar, which they’d originally hoped to open in December. The duo decided to focus on the infrastructure of the restaurant and start the newest chapter on a solid foundation. Millinder said inspectors found a variety of issues including a small leak in the outdoor gas line, calcification in the steamers and plumbing problems.

“This is an old building that sits over water and some of the maintenance had lapsed on the plumbing lines,” he said. “Once we knew we weren’t going to open in December, we thought it best to put the opening off for a little while and work on the stuff that needed attention.”

On Feb. 6, the owners opened the doors with a limited menu.

“The primary concern for me is food coming out quickly and good,” Millinder said. “I could throw together a 30-item menu and hope for the best, but I prefer a small menu that can be perfected and built on.”

The duo also is building on their staff levels with hiring ongoing for the kitchen workers and wait staff. While customers are only being seated in the front part of the building right now, Millinder said the rest of the dining room will be rehabbed.

“Right now we’re focusing on the oyster bar menu with primarily steamed oysters, shrimp and crab legs. We have ribeye, grilled chicken breasts and a fried shrimp basket,” he said. “We’re adding to the menu and will open the dining room in the coming months.”

Within the first week of opening, Millinder said he already saw repeat customers, so he is optimistic the popularity of R&R Oyster Bar will grow as word spreads.

“Just come and give us a chance,” he said.

R&R Oyster Bar at 5335 N.C. 58 is open Sundays and Tuesdays through Thursdays from 5 to 9 p.m. and from 5 to 9:30 p.m. on Fridays and Saturdays. For more information, call 252-281-5791 or visit www.facebook.com/RandRoysterbar/.

As for the future of Silver Lake itself, it is out of Millinder’s and Chance’s hands.

“We have nothing to do with the lake, but they are working on it,” Millinder said. “We look forward to the lake coming back, but we have a beautiful creek out here with cranes and beavers right now.”

Downtown getting a grocer

A New Jersey entrepreneur is moving to Wilson to open an independent grocery store this spring.

The sign for City Grocery went up on the windows at 115 Goldsboro St. last week and it already has people talking. Owner Mario Polanco said he’s eager to set up shop after two years of hunting for the right space to bring his vision to life.

“I have two visions: a grocery store and a modern Latin restaurant,” he said. “My family owns supermarkets in North Carolina and I heard about Whirligig Station going up, so I knew there was a need in downtown and decided to start off with a grocery store.”

The roughly 1,000 square-foot space will offer an assortment of food items, but his plans for expansion include an online store and delivery service.

“I want to get the opinion of people living in the downtown area and what their needs are,” Polanco said. “I want to accommodate their everyday needs and I’ll cater to the recommendations of the neighborhood.”

After getting out of the U.S. Navy, Polanco became an entrepreneur, working with partners for businesses in restaurants, bars and grocery stores. This is his first time branching out on his own, but with family members operating markets in Wilson, Middlesex and in the Triangle area, the 34-year-old man said he’s confident.

“I’ve been seeing what the Wilson business community has done to lift up the downtown area and I want to be a part of that,” Polanco said.

Extra! Extra!

ElectriCities, which represents Wilson and other public power cities across the state, was named by Business Facilities as one of the top utilities in the nation.

The economic development and site selection magazine publishes a list of leading utilities that “excel in providing economic development support, low-cost energy and infrastructure.”

“Promoting economic development in public power communities has always been a top priority for ElectriCities, so we’re thrilled to be recognized for our success in that area,” ElectriCities CEO Roy Jones said in a press release. “Throughout this last year, the benefits of public power have helped our communities attract and retain businesses, adding a growing workforce throughout North Carolina.”

According to the release, public power cities added about 4,700 new jobs and attracted more than $2.18 billion in new investment through June 2017 in North Carolina.

Got an idea for news to include in next week’s Main Street Minute? Don’t hesitate to reach out to me at 252-265-7821 or bhandgraaf@wilsontimes.com.