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Two downtown Southern Pines spots are gearing up to reopen with limited tables in the coming days after remaining closed since March. Ashten’s Restaurant plans to open its doors for outdoor seating only on Monday, while Chef Warren’s will offer indoor and outdoor seating on July 17. Here’s what you can expect.

Ashten’s Restaurant

Starting Monday, Ashten’s Restaurant in Southern Pines will serve customers at six tables set up on the sidewalk, seven nights a week. Due to the limited space, reservations are required.

Their in-house market will remain open, along with takeout and delivery services. The open date for their actual dining room is up in the air as they continue to make renovations within the restaurant. 

“I think customers will feel safer outdoors,” owner Ashley Van Camp said. “Hopefully in the next couple of weeks things will start to level out and we’ll go from there.”

Restaurant renovations include resetting the dining room to ensure adequate space between tables. They’re also in the process of restoring a downstairs storage room as a private dining room. The storage room is rumored to be the former home of a speakeasy during the prohibition era and into the 1940s when liquor was banned in North Carolina.

“We always knew there was a mural on the wall down there, but we started uncovering more of it while the restaurant was closed,” Ashely said. “We’ve been working on it piecemeal.”

They plan to build a staircase down into the room from the pub area inside of the restaurant. Ashley said they hope to have the room complete by Thanksgiving.

Chef Warren’s

Chef Warren’s will begin welcoming guests for in-house and al fresco dining on July 17. They closed up shop on July 3 to give their staff a break and prepare for their next step.

Four tables will be set up on the sidewalk adjacent to the restaurant in Southern Pines, along with six tables inside to maintain half of the building’s capacity. 

“We’ve gotten by and have had the chance to do some renovations, but my staff and I are looking forward to serving again,” owner and head chef Warren Lewis said.

Guests can expect new floors, a stained-glass window and a new special “Chef Warren’s Greatest Hits” section of the menu. The Greatest Hits section will feature a few of Warren’s favorites like the cowgirl bone-in ribeye and lobster rangoons.

Like Ashten’s, Chef Warren’s has been operating as a market during their COVID hiatus. The market isn’t going anywhere, according to Warren. It’ll be set up in the bar area. They’re removing the bar stools to make additional space for tables.

“We’ve had several people who’ve come to rely on our market because they feel safer coming here than the grocery store,” Warren said.

Warren said he’s mostly looking forward to returning to the hospitality aspect of the business.

“We’re looking forward to seeing people we haven’t seen. We’re looking forward to making cocktails and serving wine and all the things that make you a restaurant.”

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