By Bobby Bush
While hurrying up the mountains for an anniversary dinner with dear friends, we
elected to pause at the first Blowing Rock tavern on the way into town. Once known as
The Emporium, the name on the streetside sign and door had been changed. Was this a
change in name only, or had our good beer oasis been redecorated into a green tea house?
Not hardly - the transformation was better than we imagined. Now called Canyons of the
Blue Ridge, or just Canyons for short, the long bar still sports twelve beers on draft and a
nice selection of bottled beer. Best of all, an old beer friend is the owner and manager.
Founder of Tumbleweed, later Cottonwood Brewing in Boone, Bart Conway now
has a new food and beer venue. Along with the requisite mega-brewed beers, the
Canyon’s barroom boasted draft Newcastle, Warsteiner, Guinness and two familiar names,
Cottonwood Low Down Brown and Cottonwood Endo IPA. The latter pair are now
brewed by the Don Richardson, former Cottonwood brewer, at Carolina Beer & Beverage
in Moorseville, north of Charlotte. Bart is hoping to replace a couple of import taps with
NC micros. The cooler is stocked with several from Pete’s, Sam Adams and Sierra
Nevada and a nice selection of imports.
And for food, the old menu has been reworked. There’s almost something for
everyone. Old favorites include fish & chips, wild turkey sandwich, burgers and ribeye
steak. Under asian specialties, choices include chicken curry, seafood stir-fry and grilled
salmon, as well as vegetarian stir-fry. With a wink to the long gone Cottonwood
brewpub, the mexican/southwest section offers black beans & rice, burrito especial, tofu
burrito and las enchiladas. Sunday brunch starts at 11:00 and don’t be late. As is typical
of Bart’s management style, service is prompt and the food is delicious.
Weather permitting, from Canyons’ patio you’ll see “the best sunsets in Blowing
This article first appeared in Focus Magazine of Hickory, North Carolina.
© Bobby Bush