Oh, the sounds of progress: It's 3 p.m. on a sleepy, early spring afternoon in Pittsboro, and the hum of cars down Main Street is punctuated by the staccato drum of a nail gun and the crack of a hammer swung against wood. The pops come from the General Store Café, where co-owners Joyce and Vance Remick hope construction noise can create more chances for live music in Pittsboro, all centered around their new 350-square-foot stage.
The café's recent additions—the stage, a second dining room, a bar and a dance floor—are a big step for such a small, family-run enterprise. But assistant manager Lauren Monroe says expanding the restaurant's services is essential if they're to continue attracting new clientele. After all, Monroe, a recent UNC graduate, only first traveled to Pittsboro seeking solitude away from the local college scene. She needed a bright, quiet place to study, and the General Store Cafe's art, food and atmosphere fit the bill, she says. She drives 25 minutes daily from Chapel Hill to work at the Cafe.
"We see people from Raleigh, Cary, Chapel Hill and Garner traveling to eat here and listen to music. But it is a little bit more of an effort to come out here, especially when it's not a familiar scene," says Monroe. "For a place you've never been out to or a place you've only heard mention of loosely, it takes a little more follow through—to get some directions and actually show up. It's not like hopping on Franklin Street to see a show. It's something entirely different."
Joyce Remick—who handles the music aspects of the business, while husband Vance controls food and art—says the Cafe has built a reputation as a strong stop for roots and Americana artists over the last six years. The Cafe began hosting live music on weekends shortly after the Remicks bought the restaurant in 2002. With four shows each week scheduled now, she wants to foster that relationship and become one of the most consistent stops in the Triangle for such music. She doesn't want to confine the space to genre, though.
"We strive to have a variety of music artists from jazz to Celtic to folk. ... We're not specifically going to turn into a rock 'n' roll venue," says Remick. "From the artwork on the walls to the obscure collectibles we display, you know, we're just a funky place."
The Pittsboro General Store Cafe hosts a four-day grand re-opening celebration begininning Thursday at 8:30 p.m. with JazzBeau. Friday at 9 p.m., Latin band Solazo performs. Brenda Linton & Friends plays at 8:30 p.m. Saturday night. Spanish singer Eduardo Moran plays Sunday, April 6, from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m.