Kannapolis: Bistro opened in Durham House

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, December 1, 2009

By Emily Ford
KANNAPOLIS ó Tina Hanson has opened a trendy, hip restaurant in an old, historic house.
The stone Durham House, which dates back to 1936, is now home to the Old Stone Vino, the first bistro, wine bar and tapas menu in Kannapolis.
“This is the challenge of a lifetime,” said Hanson, who used her life savings to buy and renovate the house at 515 S. Main St. and open the restaurant.
So far, so good.
Only two seats remained empty during the restaurant’s grand opening Wednesday night, which Hanson pulled off without a word of advertising, and about a third of those customers showed up again the next day for lunch.
Dr. Michael Luther, president of the David H. Murdock Research Institute at the N.C. Research Campus, admitted that he’s been to the restaurant three times in two days.
Luther lives across the street.
“This could be dangerous,” he joked.
So far, more than half of the restaurant’s business has come from the Research Campus, Hanson said.
But longtime Kannapolis residents have discovered the Old Stone Vino as well.
“This is the kind of thing that many of us have been waiting for,” said Sylvia Slaughter as she dined Friday. “I think she has just done an outstanding job.”
Hanson has lived in Kannapolis for 16 years. She’s married to Todd Childers, a native.
Originally from Wisconsin, Hanson owns Investor’s Dream Realty and manages about 300 pieces of property. She also works 24 hours a week as an emergency room nurse at Presbyterian Hospital in Charlotte.
So she wasn’t exactly twiddling her thumbs when Kannapolis businessman John Bishop asked her to take a look at an old house he owned and see how she could market it.
The Durham House had been vacant for decades and had no utilities. Preservationists bought the house about five years ago, saving it from demolition to make way for the Kannapolis train station, and paid $86,000 to move it, according to historian Norris Dearmon.
“I came here with the intent of putting it up for sale,” Hanson said. “I sat here in the middle of the floor every day for three weeks and wondered what to do with it.”
Because the home is listed on the historic register, she couldn’t change a thing.
One night, a friend went on and on about a fabulous wine bar in New Jersey.
“And right then, I knew,” Hanson said.
That was one year ago. She will own the house, built by B.E. Durham from Tennessee rock, next month.
Hanson, her husband, her parents from Wisconsin and her brother from Florida did all the work themselves. Hanson served as her own general contractor.
From power to plumbing to paint, they renovated the entire property. Her mother Linda made the draperies, and her father Richard built the wine racks.
Brother John refinished every floor.
Hanson said she kept her composure throughout the process until she showed up for the grand opening and discovered that her brother was there to surprise her.
“I haven’t totally broken down crying, except that once,” she said.
Each of the 14 dining rooms in the Old Stone Vino is painted a different color. Some rooms can seat 20 people; one room can seat two.
Hanson, who admits she knew nothing about food and little about wine when she started the project, said her prayers were answered when Alisa Phifer of Shelby answered a Craigslist ad.
One of only 50 female sommeliers in the country, Phifer designed both the food and wine menus and works fulltime at the restaurant.
Brooke Doby of Concord is the fulltime pastry chef.
The restaurant is open Tuesday through Saturday from 11 a.m. until. That is, until the last person leaves.
At the grand opening, that was 1:30 a.m.
Old Stone Vino will cater, provide take out, host private parties and deliver lunch anywhere in Kannapolis, no minimum order required.
Hanson has booked three Christmas parties, each with 100 guests, and a birthday tea party including 22 4-year-olds.
The restaurant will offer live music after the holidays and a coffee bar in the early spring. If you call ahead, they will bring a cup of joe to your car.
Hanson plans to build an outdoor patio to seat 50 people next year, including an outdoor fireplace. Most likely, it will be stone.

See a photo gallery of the new bistro here.

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