Downtown Lenoir, North Carolina | North Carolina Weekend | UNC-TV

Downtown Lenoir, North Carolina | North Carolina Weekend | UNC-TV


[acoustic reggae music] ♪ – [Christina] Lenoir is
bouncing back from the recession by reinventing itself. The city is leaning into
it’s deep, artistic, and musical roots, and rebranding itself
as a destination. I wanted to see
how downtown Lenoir is attracting new businesses, and promoting it’s artists. So, I met with Charlie
Frye, Lenoir native, and owner of Folk Keeper
Gallery and Antiques. – Well, when I was a kid,
this was really and truly a hub of industry. We were really well known
for the furniture industry, which is still
present in Lenoir, but I mean, it drove
our economy for decades. One way that I have
thought about Lenoir, since I started being
in downtown since 2008, is that we’re really
a department store. Everybody’s into
going one place, and getting everything you need. But we have food, we
have entertainment, we have a bookstore, and we have several
antique stores, and at our shop has
antiques and art, and everything else, and, you know, we’ve got to
look at each other as a team, and the citizens, and everybody else sort of
is part of the team too. Our town really does
a good job at that. I paint a lot of birds. They really represent,
sort of, freedom to me. Paint our mountains. We paint home. – [Christina] Downtown Lenoir
also has more than 80 pieces of public art lining it’s
streets in a concept called, “Tucker’s Gallery.” Sculptor, Suzette
Bradshaw helped start the outdoor gallery. – There has been a big draw
because we can advertise, and talk about market
sculptures in downtown Lenoir, and people can come down
and see a concentrated, and number of sculptures
in a small area. So, it’s kind of
become a destination. – There are tons of
artists that live here, musicians, poets,
painters, sculptors, and it’s great,
tight-knit community. – Lenoir is recognized
for it’s vibrant art, but it’s also becoming
known for downtown living, and a tattoo festival. The Mayor of Lenoir, Joe
Gibbons, explained how the city embraced change
in order to grow. – One of our awards with
the Main Street Conference was our downtown branding, “Downtown Lenoir,
together we create,” and that’s sort of our theme
behind what we’re trying to do in our community is together
we can create good things. We kind of were the state
champion of Main Street. We won the most
awards of any city. Some of our
festivals that we do, this one happened to be
for the tattoo gathering, which is a very unique event that we have here in Lenoir
in September in downtown– – You did not get a
tattoo, is that right? – I did not get a tattoo. No, I did not. [laughs] – So, good things are
happening in our community, so that’s sort of
a rallying thing that we use for our downtown
is to have a great brand. – [Christina] I think we
just found your tattoo. – You found my tattoo. [laughs] – [Christina] One of the
mayor’s favorite restaurants is Piccolo’s, which serves Chicago-style
deep-dish pizza. The family-owned business
runs three locations, two of which are
actually in Chicago. As a pizza aficionado,
I absolutely had to check out this spot. – We bought this
building in 2000, and there wasn’t a whole
lot downtown Lenoir. Not a whole lot at all. So, it’s changed an awful lot. Didn’t use to be this busy, and I think it’s gettin’
busier every day. – Can you tell about some
of this great memorabilia? I see Bears signs, and Cubs hats. – [Denise] Yeah. – [Christina] Yeah, where’d
you get all this stuff? – [Denise] Everywhere, and personally, I don’t get it. I just call it “his junk,” and he likes to have a lot of stuff.
– So, this is all your husband’s fault. – Yes.
– Oh, okay. – Everything is his fault. – [Interviewer] In addition
to a variety of dining, Lenoir also has literature, and it’s affordable. Every single book at
Tybrisa Books is only $1.00. – We try to make it so that
everybody can afford to come in here and
pick out a book. Oddly enough, we didn’t
spend a lot of time in downtown Lenoir before
we opened the store, and once we got down here, we discovered how much
there is actually going on in downtown Lenoir, and we know now there’s
no place we’d rather be. [bluegrass music] – [Christina] Strolling
through downtown Lenoir, it’s possible to be serenaded. Bob Henson, a musician who
works with these young pickers, shared how Lenoir is preserving
it’s musical heritage. – We’re listening
to Blackberry Jam, which is part of Caldwell JAM, and JAM is Junior
Appalachian Musicians. It’s a program that teaches
traditional Appalachian music, and traditions, bluegrass and
old-time music to young people so that the tradition’s passed
on to the next generation. They are a very
amazing group of kids. They named themselves, and they perform out. They do gigs and make money, and have a really good time. – [Christina] I got thirsty, so I headed to the Side
Street Pour House and Grill, which has the largest
draft, craft beer selection in the area. The restaurant has 44 taps, and was once a movie theater. – This kind of
environment’s what we wanted to be involved in, and downtown Lenoir
died off for years. When I was a little kid, Lenoir downtown was
a boomin’ place, but Lenoir downtown
itself is reviving, and the last two or three
years have been a big increase. We’ve still got a few
empty store fronts, and there’s new things
comin’ to town now that’s, you know,
in development. It’s a good place to be. We get a lot of
people comin’ here from upstate South Carolina, and out of the Charlotte
area that are heading up to the High Country,
Boone, Blowing Rock, and they have learned
that we’re here, and they stop here
’cause we have somethin’ a little different. – [Christina] Another unique
option for eating in Lenoir is Katz Sandwich Company. It’s menu includes
gluten-free, dairy-free, and vegan choices. It seems that when I walked
in here it reminded me of, like, “Cheers”*, but a sandwich shop. So, can you tell me about
the sense of community? How you develop that
in the restaurant? – They did. Like, we
didn’t develop that, that’s the thing is like when
I moved from Florida to here, it was completely different
because Lenoir is just… It’s so cool, it’s so welcoming, and it’s so weird to me
because everyone always says, “Why’d you choose Lenoir?” It’s like the going saying, but I don’t know,
Lenoir is just amazing, especially if you have… I have two boys, and everyone’s community-based. Like, everyone here, we… Bryan and Sunny, and everyone kind of
just comes together, and my little,
boogerhead over there… You can come over here. He’s six going on 35, but everyone just helps
out, you know what I mean? And it’s the best community
you could live in, ever. [acoustic reggae music] – [Christina] A perfect
way to cap off my afternoon in Lenoir is with a drink at
Liquid Roots Brewing Project. The family-owned business
serves beer, wine, cider, and coffee. The owners moved from
Indiana to start the brewery. Can you tell me about some
of those awesome things that drew you to Lenoir? – Just I’ve seen a lot of
good, forward momentum. I mean, I think there is a
lot, just with the proximity to other big cities, with Charlotte and Asheville
being about an hour, hour and a half away. Boone being very
close proximity, and then just being
close to the Parkway, and the mountains and
everything like that. That draws us, and then just getting to
know a lot of the people here through a few visits
leading up to us actually purchasing the building. It gave us a lot of
confidence in being able to do what we wanted to do. This has been about
five years in the works, so just been waiting for
the right opportunity, and this was it. Bringing people
together, having fun, that’s what we enjoy doin’, and we hope to share that
with other people as well. – [Christina] Lenoir’s
experimenting with second-floor living. Charlie Frye showed
me his special, bird’s-eye view of downtown. – We’re really just
pulling it all together to where we’re a place to go. – For more information
about things to do in downtown Lenoir, go to downtownlenoirnc.com.

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