After many months of delay, The North End Kitchen and Bar, an open-air, street-style taco restaurant, is finally open.
The restaurant, located at 77 N. Court St., officially opened to the public Jan. 13, months behind schedule. Due to COVID-19, the restaurant wasn’t able to obtain its liquor license or state inspections on its original timeline. According to a previous Post report, the original grand opening was scheduled to take place in April 2020 but was pushed back to August 2020 before, finally, the start of the new year.
Despite these complications, The North End’s owners, David and Jen Cornwell, are keeping their spirits high now that their restaurant is up and running.
“It's nice because all of our hard work is finally starting to pay off,” David Cornwell said. “It's like a weight lifted off our shoulders. It sounds kind of backwards because you think a lot of the pressure would be when you opened … but more of the stress was getting ready to open.”
Ty Word, director of operations for the North End restaurant group, agreed that after so many obstacles, it’s relieving to be able to open up the restaurant.
“As frustrating as (the delays) were, it is sort of a weight lifted off us knowing that we could finally open up (and) give Athens another food option as well as a place that came along, really, really nicely,” Word said. “I think it's just another great food choice option for students and locals alike to come down and enjoy.”
Now that many students are back on campus for the Spring Semester, The North End has quickly become a popular choice for people to try out.
“The overall atmosphere is just really fun,” Julia Mattox, a sophomore studying marketing, said.
She added that she enjoys the food and that the price reflected the quality.
“(I ordered) a large-sized quesadilla for $8 (one time) and I couldn’t even finish it … so I definitely think that it's worth it,” Mattox said.
Prestin Minter, a senior studying journalism, said he really liked the bar and the food, but it was extremely busy, and the overall atmosphere didn’t match what he was looking for. As a vegetarian, Minter was underwhelmed with the options available to him.
As expected with the opening of any new restaurant, The North End has stayed consistently busy since the day it first opened to the public, a trend that the owners and customers alike have tried to get used to.
“Obviously, weekends we’re busy — Thursday, Friday, Saturday, Sunday — that's when everyone wants to go eat, and I realize that,” David said. “(On days like) Monday, you can probably walk right in and get a table.”
Mattox has gone to the restaurant three times thus far, dining in each time. She also mentioned she and her friends have only had to wait once, and they found tables easily on the other two occasions.
“The first time, we had a wait of roughly an hour,” Mattox said. “But it's nice because you can put in your name and then they call you … so I did like that about it.”
Another way the Cornwells are trying to stimulate business while mitigating overcrowding is by offering a takeout option, which officially went into effect Jan. 26. Additionally, curbside pickup is available.
Despite these issues, Mattox can’t wait to go back with more of her friends.
Although Minter expressed uncertainty on if he will return again, he suggested that others check it out for themselves at least once.
“(With) all of my friends and the people that I know, (the restaurant is) always now in the mix of like, ‘Oh, should we go to The North End tonight?’” Mattox said. “It doesn't really feel like it's just another place on Court Street.”