Everyone is aware of the hardships that the coronavirus pandemic has wrecked on the hospitality industry, particularly restaurants, across the nation, and it’s no exception in Moore County.  We feel especially hard-hit because tourism & hospitality is our #2 largest industry sector.  However, despite the current conditions, there are some positive things happening as several restaurants are taking advantage of unique opportunities.

China Garden BuffetChina Garden Buffet has just completed building renovations on a new location in Aberdeen.  Owners John and Winnie Lin have built a solid following over the last 21 years at their former spot on Johnson Street before deciding last year to move to another building at the intersection of U.S. 15-501 and U.S. 1 in Aberdeen.

The move was an opportunity for the family to finally own and invest in their community. The restaurant is now open and will incorporate a cafeteria-style take-out buffet using staff servers, in addition to the traditional menu.

“A lot of places are reopening,” Lin said. “We were ready for a fresh start and to put some character into our new place. We have missed seeing people.”

Southern Pines Brewing Company is opening a new taproom and outdoor patio in downtown Southern Pines in the space formerly occupied by Southern Pines Growler Company at the corner of West Pennsylvania Avenue and North Bennett Street.  In the meantime, Southern Pines Growler is putting the finishing touches on their newly-constructed building that will house their taproom and outdoor patio just one block south on Bennett Street. 

Southern Pines Brewing anticipates an opening date around July 1st. The production brewery taproom on Air Tool Drive in Southern Pines will also remain open.

“When we started, our goal was to be here for our market. We make beer for the people where we live and beer that they want to drink,” co-owner Micah Niebauer said. “Our original concept was ‘rooted in the community,’ and it still is today.”

Also in July, Southern Pines Brewing is creating a new pilsner lager called “Together We Are Moore”.  The name is inspired by the “shop local” initiative the Moore County Chamber of Commerce launched last year.

“It is such a great slogan. With all that has happened with the coronavirus, we’ve been racking our heads with how we could help our community. The service industry has been hit so hard,” Niebauer said. “Beer is our way to help.”

The specialty brew will be sold exclusively wholesale for $1 a keg or case to local retail establishments. When customers purchase a pint or a four-pack to-go, all of the proceeds will directly support that business.

Mas-A-Wrap, a Filipino and Asian food truck owned by Mary Ann and Stephen Brown, recently rolled out for the first time in Southern Pines.  They offer traditional dishes like lumpia with chicken, pork or shrimp, pancit and more.Mas-a-Wrap food truck

The Filipino word “masarap” loosely translates to “delicious” in English.   Chef Mary Ann is a native of Legazpi, a city in the Philippines.  She grew up watching her dad cook and learned the importance that food plays in bringing people together.

To find out where Mas-A-Wrap’s is located at any given time, follow them on Facebook.

In addition to locally-owned restaurants, Moore County is also seeing some new chain restaurants in town.

The burger chain Five Guys has opened its first location in Moore County in the Sandhill Commons shopping center off of US 15-501 in Southern Pines.  In Aberdeen, First Watch is opening and will serve breakfast, brunch and lunch favorites.  Right next door, Moe’s restaurant has reopened after taking advantage of the downtime caused by the virus to remodel their Aberdeen location.

With all of the negative news because of the pandemic right now, it’s nice to hear that there is some good news.  It often seems that when times are tough, the entrepreneurial spirit becomes even stronger.  That’s certainly seems to be the case in Moore County. 

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