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  • Writer's pictureSteven Keith

Fernbank Public House ready to open its doors in South Hills

The long-awaited arrival of Fernbank Public House is here, with the new South Hills restaurant hosting a “friends and family” open house this past Saturday night – and tentative plans to start quietly welcoming the public as early as this week.

Fernbank Public House next to Lola's on Bridge Road
Fernbank Public House next to Lola's on Bridge Road

You may remember I wrote about this modern new tavern coming to Bridge Road earlier this year, as the brainchild of owners Mike Medley (the former longtime manager of Lola’s) and Brian Henderson (a longtime bartender at Sam’s Uptown Club).


After months of extensive demolition, construction and renovations, the new space in the building between Caffé Romeo and Lola’s looks fantastic. New front and back patios, lots of flowers and plants, new railings and more adorn the outside, while a clean and bright interior offers a handful of tables and a small bar teasing delicious libations.


Folks have been not-so-patiently waiting for this exciting new place to finally open – me included! – so stay tuned for an “official” announcement about Fernbank’s public opening, menu, hours and more.

Iconic King Tut Drive-In closing


Although I’ve never been to the place (I know, I know!) many West Virginia food fans are still reeling from the announced closing of the iconic King Tut Drive-In in Beckley, which will sell its last, legendary hot dog on Sept. 5.


Known for serving classic American food in a true drive-in setting, King Tut has appeared on many “best of” lists through the years while collecting a large legion of loyal fans.


Realizing those same fans would take the news hard, the restaurant’s owners are giving customers two more weeks to enjoy one last taste.


“Rather than shut the doors immediately, we are keeping the business open to give our employees the chance to find other employment while still earning a salary, and to give our local and distant customers a chance to come by and say goodbye, owners Dave and Michelle McKay said in a post on Facebook. “We are working with several restaurants in the area who are interested in hiring members of our staff.”


King Burger from King Tut Drive-In
King Burger from King Tut Drive-In

And this news gets even sadder. There’s no chance of new owners taking over the place, because the land has been sold to a company not in the restaurant business.


“Due to our age, we have been actively looking for an opportunity to sell the business to someone who wanted to own and operate King Tut complete with our recipes,” the post continued. “Turns out, the drive-in is a hard sell, but the lots were of much interest.”


The building itself was constructed in the late 1930s and would need lots of extensive repairs and upgrades to “keep it upright” in the years to come. “The old girl has served us well,” they said, but after operating at a loss for several years to try to provide good wages while keeping prices affordable, they accepted an offer for the land.


Hot dogs from King Tut Drive-In
Hot dogs from King Tut Drive-In

“We know it is a shock for everyone and it is painful for us as well,” they added. “Tears of sadness and yet, tears of joy. There is no good time to put this business on the market, but times have changed. Half of our business is take-out now and people want service much quicker than we can accommodate. Our home-cooking takes time and effort, but is not always appreciated by the younger folks.”


Gosh, I hate that.


Maybe I’ll finally run down and check the place out while I still can. I’d love for these folks to know how many people DO still appreciate their hard work and dedication in a world that often doesn’t value that as much these days.


  • IF YOU GO: King Tut Drive-In, 301 N. Eisenhower Dr. in Beckley, is currently open from 10:30 a.m. to 11 p.m. every day except Wednesday, but be sure to call ahead since hours may vary these last few weeks. For more information, call 304-252-6353 or visit the restaurant’s Facebook page.

Charleston Nano Brewery marks 1 year


Charleston Nano Brewery on Charleston’s West Side is celebrating its first year in business Aug. 25-27 with a lineup of special small-batch beers (of course!) plus food trucks, live music and giveaways throughout the weekend.


In addition to limited edition brews, JoJo’s Taco Truck and musical group Minor Swing will be on tap that Friday, followed by Phat Llama Food Truck and singer Khegan McLane on Saturday. The celebration continues Sunday with the tapping of a special wood-aged pilsner that’s been brewing.

  • IF YOU GO: Charleston Nano Brewery, 320 Washington St. W. in Charleston, is usually open from 5-8 p.m. Thursday, 5-9 p.m. Friday, 2-10 p.m. Saturday and 1-5 p.m. Sunday. For more information, visit www.charlestonnano.com or visit the brewery’s Facebook page.

Historical photo of King Tut Drive-In
Historical photo of King Tut Drive-In


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Steven Keith is a food writer and restaurant critic known as “The Food Guy” who writes a weekly column for the Charleston Gazette-Mail and has appeared in several state, regional and national culinary publications. Follow him online at www.wvfoodguy.com or on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Pinterest. He can be reached at 304-380-6096 or at wvfoodguy@aol.com.

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