Greetings from Carrboro.
It wasn’t pretty. We had to use a sledgehammer to get it out. The keg box had been behind the bar since day one. And it was easily 15 years old when I bought it. The plan had been for it to last – fingers crossed – six months and that by then our wild success would allow us to buy a new one. So here we were, getting a new one – just, well, 19 years later.
I have to admit that it was cathartic. It was the end of an era. After all the band-aids we’d used to hold the thing together over 20 years, each swing of the sledgehammer – each crunch – was a guarantee that I wouldn’t have to genuflect to the keg box gods anytime soon to get us through – pretty please – one more shift. We took it out in pieces, pressure washed where it had been, and then eight of us lifted the shiny new keg box over the bar and lowered it into place.
In the hamster wheel version of time that dominates the restaurant world, the markers I remember most are the great people and stories and not years. It’s like remembering the past 25 years as one giant restaurant shift with hundreds of coworkers and thousands more guests. And, oof, so many problems (see, above)! And yet so many more solutions. If you ask me, was that in 2005 or 2013? I’d have no idea. But I will never forget the guy on a blind date who wouldn’t vacate the bathroom stall until his “date” had left the restaurant. Or the woman who elaborately planned her own 40th birthday party at Acme and no one showed up.
So, tomorrow, as we celebrate 25 years in Carrboro, what I will think of are all the people – their stories and lives – that have been woven together to make Acme the restaurant it is today. And that means the amazing cast of characters who’ve worked side by side with me over the past quarter century to shape the restaurant. There are just far too many to name. But our very first employee, Erasmo, still works in town at Harris-Teeter. He’s a grandfather now.
As with the keg box, I had a lot more hope than sense back in 1998. That optimism was a heady mixture of denial and determination. I stumbled about trying to figure out this crazy business and got a lot wrong along the way. But what I did get right – very right – was my trust in each of you. Because over these 25 years I’ve learned one clear thing – that restaurants aren’t really businesses as much as they are communities. And I, for one, am deeply grateful to be a part of this community.
To celebrate our 25th anniversary, Acme is handing out $25 gift cards for each reservation on Saturday night, the 18th. There are a few tables left. Get’em while you can.
Next Tuesday, February 21st, is Mardi Gras. And Acme is unafraid to throw on some beads, spice up the food, and crank up the music. We’ll have all the bayou classics and big flavors that make the food of New Orleans so delicious and, of course, the cocktails that make New Orleans so much fun. Gumbo and red beans & rice, tasso ham gravy and etouffee, fried oysters and Cajun fried steaks. If that doesn’t make you hungry, check your pulse. It’s going to be a great night. Reservations are recommended. So, join us; you’ll be happy you did.
Well, that’s all the news from Carrboro. The staff at Acme look forward to serving you soon.
The Staff at Acme