10/1/16, Homeplace Restaurant, Catawba, Virginia
On October 1st, I had the opportunity to go to the Homeplace Restaurant in Catawba, Virginia. The Homeplace Restaurant is seemingly a person’s house that has just been opened up for a family gathering. When you go in, there are a ton of people from allover the region as it is a highly respected restaurant for its quality and environment. Aside from getting a great meal, we were able to talk to a few people while we waited to be seated and see where they were from and what brought them to the restaurant. I am typically a very quiet person myself, so I would say by putting myself out there to talk to these strangers was in a way, challenging myself. I always try to keep to myself, but I was interested in what attracted others to drive the distance for this restaurant.
Something that you can only experience by going yourself is the food and atmosphere offered. The restaurant is very welcoming and truly doesn’t feel like a business and more like you were invited to a family gathering. The food is no different. Everything was delicious and had that homemade touch to it that made it a special occasion rather than going out to any other restaurant.
I wouldn’t say my perception of Appalachia had changed from the experience, but it certainly reinforced my expectations. As someone from outside of the region, you always hear about a proper southern home cooked meal, but I never experienced it prior to going to The Homeplace Restaurant. Although I certainly felt out of place as I usually do since I do not have the stereotypical southern accent and people can quickly tell I am not a local, the atmosphere helped change that. The staff and the restaurant itself were very welcoming and everyone was generally in a good mood. There were also a few other people who seemed to also be from outside of the region, which was helpful in getting comfortable myself.
I would assume most of the people in there were from relatively close by, but there were certainly others who had traveled for the occasion. The Homeplace Restaurant has garnered a reputation in the region, and it doesn’t take long to hear about it once you enter Virginia. Surprisingly, it came up in conversation prior to this course, but I never thought I would actually attend until this assignment gave me a push to finally go.
As previously stated, the outside of the restaurant looked completely identical to any house you would see in the region. The inside was also fairly barren, unlike most restaurants you see today that flood the walls with trinkets to take up space and try to look appealing. The Homeplace Restaurant decided to go a different route and rather than putting in a bunch of objects and pictures that remind you of Appalachia, they went for a traditional styling that made you feel like you were in someone’s home from the region. As you would expect, the only sounds you heard were mostly people talking, but the smells in the restaurant were overwhelmingly of fried chicken and mashed potatoes. It was certainly a welcoming scent when you first walked into the door, hungry after waiting to be seated.
I would say the people working at the restaurant held the power over the customers, as expected, but it was different from any other restaurant. It was as if you were showing respect to someone hosting a house party that invited you over for a gathering rather than you respecting a figurehead in a business.
I am fairly happy with the overall experience I had at The Homeplace Restaurant. I would say I would have liked to talk to more people to hear more stories while I was there, but there’s a certain aspect of trying to let people naturally enjoy themselves and experience things for yourself. With that being said, I don’t think I would have changed anything about the trip and I’m glad I got the opportunity to go.