Andrew Moore recognizes that, in his words, opening a barbecue restaurant in North Carolina is kind of like deciding to play basketball for the UNC Tar Heels — there’s a lot of competition.
But Moore, who also owns Venable Rotisserie Bistro in Carrboro, just couldn’t pass up the rare opportunity to open a restaurant at such a historic property — a former railroad station. He says this will make CrossTies Barbecue special.
“We felt like the location was perfect for a southern Barbecue-style restaurant,” he said. “The tradition of the train station and the tradition of the food seemed to fit.”
CrossTies is located where Southern Rail used to be, next to the railroad tracks near Weaver Street Market, Venable and the rest of the Carr Mill Mall businesses. Southern Rail closed in late December 2015 after experiencing money troubles.
Like Venable, which is named after the Town of Carrboro’s former moniker, Moore said he sees CrossTies as a way to preserve the town’s rich history. He said the railroad station, which dates back to the late 1800s, was also the site of the largest cross tie market in the world.
“We named Venable Rotisserie Bistro in honor of this history, and CrossTies in honor of the market,” he said.
Moore said he’s grateful to the opportunity to operate a restaurant in such an iconic venue.
“I love history and I love the fact that at CrossTies we have become the current stewards of such a historic property,” he said.
“There is something magical about working every day in a place where trains and people and goods came together for a moment before being carried out to different parts of the world.”
Foodies looking for a slightly more casual place to eat than, for example, Venable, will be pleased with CrossTies’s mission.
“Our intended demographic is everyone who loves to eat,” Moore said.
“CrossTies will be casual, and friendly for the people eating and drinking here, but behind the scenes it will be highly disciplined. Good barbecue is neither simple nor easy, but it is important to make it seem that way.”
Moore also wants to help take customers back in time.
“We also hope to be a destination restaurant for train enthusiasts,” he said.
“Eating in our dining car will be a special experience. It really does take you back to what seemed at least like a romantic time.”
But restoring the buildings that house the restaurant has been anything but romantic.
The restaurant’s opening date was pushed back multiple times due to necessary renovations that Moore said he and his team were not aware of before purchasing the property.
Now, Moore says the restaurant is slated for a Sept. 12 opening date.
“The general condition of the buildings had seriously deteriorated and had to be extensively restored, mechanicals had to be replaced,” he said. “We wanted to carefully preserve the history and feel of CrossTies, and that required more time than simple construction might.”
Customers will be able to enjoy dishes such as Eastern Carolina pulled pork, Texas smoked brisket, St. Louis-style ribs and smoked chicken wings with Alabama white sauce.
Vegetarian customers can munch on tofu barbecue and other vegetarian appetizers and sides.
“Our goal is to establish a permanent venue of really good eating, a place that people will want to visit every week,” Moore said. “The opening is important, but the follow through is where we will finally prove our value.”
Moore said CrossTies will be a place where the history of the building is palpable to customers.
“It is such a treasure for this town,” he said. “We will make it a place where everyone can come feel the past and enjoy a great meal or sip a little bourbon.”