Raleigh celebrity chef Scott Crawford talks his latest venture: a casual, family-friendly eatery opening soon in downtown Clayton.
by Addie Ladner | photography by Jessica Crawford
Like so many other folks in the hospitality industry, chef Scott Crawford found himself massively pivoting at the start of the pandemic, learning how to run a take-out operation and serving dishes that were very different from the more refined fare that people know him for. But that pivot actually sparked a new business idea, in a new area for him. Here, he shares his inspiration, the menu, and more.
You said the pandemic inspired the concept of this restaurant, how so?
When Crawford & Son shifted to a take-out model, we had to develop a new menu that was designed to-go and ended up with a menu that was travel-friendly and comforting. And we really enjoyed cooking it and eating it — I realized it could be a stand-alone concept. That was a real silver lining of COVID, to see our work at that challenging time create new opportunities for the future.
How will it be different from your other restaurants Crawford & Son and Jolie?
Crawford & Son is our flagship, and the menu there offers dishes that are a little more composed. It doesn’t include real casual items like burgers or chicken wings. This is a larger menu and it’s also more oriented towards families and groups. And being a restaurant you can visit several nights a week for different occasions and with different groups. It will also have a lot of outdoor seating (45-50 seats!). And the seating in general was designed to be flexible and adaptable for various sized groups. You’ll notice a lower price point than Crawford & Son. Still, our guests who frequent Crawford & Son and Jolie will know they’re in one of our restaurants — it’s that same style and balance of flavors. We think everyone is really going to love this more casual option from our team!
Tell us about the menu — what are some dishes you are most excited about?
I’m super excited about the duck pot pie, which has a biscuit top. It uses the same dough as in our new biscuits at Crawford & Son. It’s served with duck confit, duck jus, and fall vegetables. We’re all loving the variety of chicken wings we’ll be offering. The ribs and meatloaf are hearty and comforting for winter. We’ll have fried chicken on Thursdays and smoked prime rib on Fridays. Those are going to be incredible!
Will the menu rotate with the seasons at all?
Absolutely. We have the same philosophy and approach at Crawford Cookshop as we do at Crawford & Son and Jolie. We’ll be rotating in seasonal dishes with a core set of dishes that never leave the menu. But things like the vegetables and salads will change with the seasons.
What informed the interior design of the space, it seems open and airy, maybe more casual?
Yes, Crawford Cookshop was designed to be much more casual. We worked with Louis Cherry Architecture again, just as we did for Crawford & Son and Jolie. You’ll know you’re at a Crawford restaurant. Even though it’s more casual, no details were overlooked. For instance, I’m excited about our black flatware. We wanted to bring the ”cool” to Clayton, and I think we’ve done that. The space uses a cool palette of gray tones, matte finishes, cast iron, and hidden lighting. Big wooden doors welcome you, and there’s a large bar in the center of the restaurant, and garage doors that open one side of the restaurant to the covered, outdoor patio with a fireplace.
Was it an old space that you renovated?
Yes, I fell in love with the building and its location in the center of downtown. It’s a really beautiful old building from 1904. In fact, during construction we discovered this incredible original elevator, so we’ve incorporated it into the space, and used it to create a few special pieces – a table and its part of the fireplace mantle outside on the patio.
What will the opening hours be?
We’ll open for dinner only to begin with – Tuesday through Saturday. After the new year, we hope to open for Saturday and Sunday brunch, and eventually lunch service, too. We’ll also introduce a delivery program a couple of weeks after opening.
Your other two spaces are right in the heart of Raleigh, why Clayton?
There’s a creative process to each restaurant opening, and in this instance, everything came together. The building really spoke to me. Gabe at Atlas Stark owns it and I felt good about doing a project with him. They were committed to a quality renovation. And my family and I really fell for Clayton, too. It’s the kind of small-town community I’ve known all my life. The people are so friendly, the businesses are growing; it has real small-town charm. I’ve found Clayton to be very welcoming and on an incredible path for growth. Everything about this location has come together seamlessly. We’re proud to be part of the Clayton community!
Tell us about the chef Bryan Slattery?
Bryan is a true professional! He was trained by and worked with a protégé of mine at Sea Island, after I had been there as executive chef. Bryan has family in North Carolina, so he moved to work at Carolina Inn, and then became their chef de cuisine. He lives near Clayton with his family, and is feeling very at home with this community and the kind of food and restaurant group we’re cultivating. We share the same standards and skills and he loves what he does and is so excited about Cookshop. Please say hi to him when you see him, he’s an important new member of Crawford Hospitality!
How did you come up with the name Crawford Cookshop?
Cookshop is an old way of describing a restaurant or a place that serves food. It’s an old-school term that I liked, and that evokes that casual shop feeling. It fits the classic American main street restaurant we’re going to be, in a gorgeous old building downtown.