New Southern Cantina is Calling Your NameDec 11, 2020 09:35AM ● By Catherine Diehl
Downtown Statesville is more than just shops and restaurants- it’s a town that is known for its community, its food, and its people, and since 2013, Jason Cole and Andrea Chadwick, have been one of the many reasons why Downtown Statesville has become a beacon for both locals and newcomers. With each passing year, the atmosphere has changed and grown into what it is today- a winsome atmosphere that draws people in for the food, but keeps them coming back over and over because of the people and the community that make up the streets of Downtown. Jason and Andi have been restaurant owners in Statesville since 2013, with their first restaurant being Twisted Oak American Bar & Grill. They then went on to open Unwined Bar & Eatery in 2015, Broad St. Burger Co. in 2017, and now the newest member of their family is Smokin' Southern Cantina, which is now open.
Jason and Andi each have their own stories on how they have ended up where they are, and as fate would have it, their stories merged and Statesville has blossomed because of it.
Jason grew up in Statesville, NC, and at the early age of six, he knew everything there was to know about the restaurant business thanks to his dad, who owned the KFC franchise in Statesville. His dad’s passion for the restaurant business ran through Jason’s veins, too, and because of it, he followed in his dad’s footsteps keeping his legacy alive. After 12+ years in the franchise business, Jason realized he didn’t want to be a part of the franchise business anymore, he wanted his own thing. He wanted his own restaurant.
Andi has lived in Statesville for twenty years, and grew up with her mom being the one who instilled in her her drive and passion for the restaurant business. “My mom owned one of the most popular restaurants in our area in Ohio. I started as a dishwasher, peeled the potatoes, and did coat check,” and after growing up in the restaurant business, it only fed her deep desire for wanting her own restaurant. “I’ve always wanted my own, ever since I was little, I knew,” said Andi.
“The best childhood memories were in the family restaurant,” and with these memories being made in the kitchens and dining rooms of their parent’s restaurants, it’s easy to see what has motivated both Andi and Jason to do what they have done, and why they keep going.
Andi + Jason
In 2011, Jason’s wife, Melanie, introduced Andi to Jason because they both desired to create something that belonged to themselves. “I always wanted my own, because like she (Andi) said, there are no rules. The menu can be whatever you want it to be,” said Jason, and this is why their partnership works. They both believe in creating places that are made with people in mind and in places that are created out of pure passion, and after 7+ years of their visions aligning, their passions keep spearheading the streets of Downtown Statesville.
Smokin’ Southern Cantina is their latest heartfelt gesture to Downtown Statesville, and if any of their other amazing creations don’t tell you enough about what to expect, this place is going to be like nothing you’ve experienced before. With this concept being so different from their other restaurants, I couldn’t help but wonder how they came up with this idea. “The name came out of what we were going to do. We wanted an eclectic menu,” said Andi. Jason chimed in and painted a picture of what to expect, “the name ‘Cantina’ kind of gives it a Mexican feel, and the platforms that we’ll be using will be more Mexican inspired, but the flavors- we wanted those flavors, those middle latitude, those warm flavors from the latitude belt that run around the center of the earth,” that’s what they were looking for, and as soon as you walk into Smokin’, you are engulfed by this sense of warmth, newness, and a sense of wonder.
Welcome to the beach
Smokin’s menu is eclectic, inspiring, and awe driven. They want you to feel like “you just got off the plane and you’re going to grab a quick bite before you go to the beach. It’s going to be a mini paradise, a beach fusion.” Expect Mexican, Hawaiian, Jamaican, and Caribbean inspired flavors to be “painted on tacos, burritos,” and other handhelds. Jason let us in on one of his favorite dishes called the Armadillo Eggs, which are peppers stuffed with ground beef and wrapped in bacon. Are you ready to go yet? Because I am! Jason and Andi are beyond excited that Smokin' is officially open, and you should be, too!
“Smokin’ has something for everyone. There are other places in town that do bits and pieces, but there’s really nothing like this, and I eat a lot so I know, but there’s not really anything else that really fits this mold. We have tequila, but also lots of rum. Sipping tequilas and sipping rums. There’s nothing really quite like it,” said Jason. Out of all of the amazing changes that are happening around them and within their business, Jason and Andi both said that they’re most excited about seeing your reaction- “It’s always kind of exciting to open something new and to see people’s reactions and to get their feedback.”
Created with you in mind
“This is home. We know people here, we have the best feel, and we know what the people want,” came from both Andi and Jason’s mouths when I asked “why Statesville?”
“There were only a few places here,” said Andi, and it became clear that opportunity wasn’t the only thing that drove their desire to create and build here. It was also the people and their want to build something for everyone.
Smokin’, just like their other creations, was created with you in mind, and Jason and Andi are two owners that are in the restaurant business because of you and for you. Their personalities are two of the same, but very different. Andi is a colorful painting on the outside, but more reserved on the inside, and Jason seems to be the painter when she can’t quite put her feelings into words, and it just works. They create masterpieces together. Their partnership has created four restaurants in downtown Statesville, and all four are their own entities, their own experience, and their own expression of self. They both love the challenge, the exploration, and the excitement of fitting an idea to the space, and the restaurant industry fuels all of these outlets for them, which is why they keep creating. They keep creating so they can also keep giving back to the people that have helped their dreams become a reality, and to keep the streets of Downtown Statesville a growing beacon for locals and newcomers.
The community is a powerful driving force in their business model, and because of it, they held a local artist competition in order to have art from local artists not only hung on the walls, but also tattooed to the walls of their space. In fact, one of the artists also painted the most awe inspiring mural on their wall, as well as other hanging pieces, and as the colors and 3D embellishments ooze out flavor, it’s something that can’t be explained, only experienced. Beautifully crafted sugar skulls make up the identity of this fusion paradise, and the colors and lime accents that pour from them make your mouth water with excitement for what is to come out of the kitchen. Jason and Andi also used Troutman Chair Co to create their tables and chairs, and they’re a pure masterpiece within themselves. Each table is a visual representation of the fusion of flavors and life that is happening inside of Smokin’, all with different characteristics and a different story to be told with each passing customer.
We’ll see you in paradise
Smokin’ is, and will be, your little slice of paradise, your private cantina to explore different corners of the world, and your paradise fusion, and it's calling your name! Even though this will be Jason and Andi’s fourth restaurant grand opening, they wanted you to be sure to remember that every restaurant is different, and if the first week or two are a little bit rusty, don’t brush them off. They’re here for you and they always will be. We hope to see you at Smokin’ Southern Cantina, where one corner of the world meets the other!