Mys­tic Grill opens

Real Mys­tic Grill open for busi­ness

The Covington News - - FRONT PAGE - GABRIEL KHOULI gkhouli@cov­ Dar­rell Everidge/The Cov­ing­ton News

“The Vam­pire Diaries” themed restau­rant opened on the Cov­ing­ton square Mon­day.

The square was packed with cars Tues­day night, and it wasn’t be­cause of the Board of Com­mis­sion­ers meet­ing. The real Mys­tic Grill Restau­rant is fi­nally open.

Serv­ing only din­ner for now, the Mys­tic Grill own­ers are eas­ing into the restau­rant busi­ness, choos­ing not to pub­li­cize the restau­rant’s of­fi­cial open­ing Mon­day night to avoid get­ting over­run with busi­ness, as the restau­rant has been a hot topic on so­cial me­dia among both lo­cals and tourists.

The restau­rant — in­spired by the main eatery in the pop­u­lar CW Net­work show “The Vam­pire Diaries”, which has filmed fre­quently in Cov­ing­ton over its first five sea­sons — has al­ready served hun­dreds of cus­tomers.

The restau­rant is open from 5-10 p.m. Mon­days-Thurs­days and from 5-11 p.m. Fri­days and Satur­days. The bar, which repli­cates the one in the show, from the tiling to the taps, is open longer, from 4-11 p.m. Mon­days-Thurs­days and from 4 p.m. to mid­night Fri­days and Satur­days.

As soon as the staff feels ready for more busi­ness, the restau­rant will open for lunch, the own­ers said.

Kel­ley John­ston, one of the own­ers, said producers from the show walked through the fin­ished restau­rant last week and were “ex­tremely happy” with the re­sults and “looked for­ward to com­ing to film in the build­ing.”

De­spite the fact there is a set for the Mys­tic Grill at the show’s De­catur stu­dio, John­ston said the real Mys­tic Grill has some fea­tures, such as its rooftop deck, that could be used in fu­ture shows.

Rooftop seat­ing is not yet avail­able, but pa­trons are wel­come to tour the restau­rant while they wait to eat or af­ter their meal. The sec­ond floor will even­tu­ally have seat­ing, too, but the own­ers and staff are tak­ing ev­ery­thing one step at a time.

Cur­rently, the sec­ond floor has a lounge where pa­trons can wait, though part-owner Angi Bezs­born said the hope is that din­erse will walk around and en­joy the square while they wait. The restau­rant uses the app Buz­zTable, which texts pa­trons’ cell­phones to let them know when a ta­ble is ready.

Even­tual plans call for Bezs­born to of­fer golf-cart tours, “His­tory, Haunt­ings and Hol­ly­wood,” around down­town, while John­ston is work­ing on get­ting “The Vam­pire Diaries”-themed gift shop run­ning in the build­ing’s base­ment.

Mys­tic Grill is not cur­rently tak­ing reser- va­tions. There is a pri­vate room on the sec­ond floor that pa­trons can re­serve for events.

A Sun­day brunch will also be com­ing even­tu­ally, and John­ston said she’s ex­cited about of­fer­ing another eat­ing op­tion on Sun­days, when many other restau­rants are closed.

Park­ing is avail­able on the square, but also in the park­ing lot be­hind the build­ing.

As for the restau­rant’s fare, it’s best de­scribed by Chef Boyd A. Rose: “South­ern cui­sine with bold and ac­cented fla­vors, us­ing lo­cal prod­ucts and pro­duce as much as pos­si­ble and do­ing it with a twist.”

Rose was a lit­tle skep­ti­cal when he first got the of­fer, be­cause, he said, he didn’t want to be in­volved with a gim­mick, but he saw the charm of Cov­ing­ton and its po­ten­tial for growth.

“What he cooks is good with­out be­ing pre­ten­tious. It’s homey,” John­ston said.

“It was to­tally sur­real last night. It was an amaz­ing feel to watch your friends and the com­mu­nity en­joy them­selves. It was ev­ery­thing we wanted it to be,” Kel­ley John­ston said. “At times, (the ren­o­va­tion) was frus­trat­ing and we wanted to pull out our hair — when we thought we never get through this — (last night was) awe­some. Peo­ple are so ex­cited.”

Por­trayed in the tele­vi­sion show “The Vam­pire Diaries,” the Mys­tic Grill has been a pop­u­lar spot in fic­tional Mys­tic Falls for some time. The real-life restau­rant of­fi­cially opened for busi­ness in Cov­ing­ton Mon­day.

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