Everyone asks Nate Allen what he’s done with the spoon. They’re not trying to eat dessert; they’re being clever. Allen is the chef and owner of Knife & Fork in Spruce Pine, a focused, farm-to-table restaurant that garners national press attention despite its sleepy, small-town location.
In a few months, when diners ask him about the spoon, Allen will send them next door to Spoon Bar, his new venture in craft cocktails. The drinks will be inspired by Allen’s collection of post-Prohibition cocktail books. In a word, he says, the concept is classicism.
A craft cocktail bar, complete with a cut ice program, is an interesting development in Mitchell County, in which the sale of alcohol was prohibited until 2009 (the same year the restaurant opened). However, Allen says he’s certain the town is ready for his mixology skills. “I’m beyond committed to Spruce Pine,” he says. “I feel firmly grounded here. I feel like I have the support that I need.”
But just because he’s in a supportive community doesn’t mean he’ll let his standards slip, Allen explains. He plans to execute the bar program in Spruce Pine as he would have when he worked at A.O.C in Los Angeles. “I am a devout mixologist, and I will be relentless to work for,” he says with a chuckle.
Spoon Bar will neighbor Knife & Fork. The new project also includes expanded outdoor seating for the restaurant. Allen’s just beginning to plan, so there’s no timeframe for the project yet. He expects he’ll be a bit distracted this spring: His first child is due in May.