Green Lodging News

QW ESOP Trust a Rare Example of Sharing the Work, Sharing the Wealth

By: Glenn Hasek, Green Lodging News
March 3, 2017

If a green lodging hall of fame existed, Dennis Quaintance would certainly be in it. I first chatted with Dennis almost 10 years ago when his Quaintance-Weaver Restaurants and Hotels (QW) was building the Proximity Hotel in Greensboro, N.C. At that time the goal was LEED Gold for the 147-room property that features a solar hot water heating system on its roof and other energy-saving features. The Proximity later became the first hotel to earn the U.S. Green Building Council’s LEED Platinum level of certification. Quite an achievement.

This past fall, Dennis and the other founders of QW announced that, after 28 years of operating one of the top-rated hotel and restaurant companies in the South, they had sold 100 percent of their company to its 600+ staff members. The sale made the company one of only a few employee-owned restaurant and hotel companies in the United States and generated a lot of local media buzz. (TPI Hospitality in Willmar, Minn. is also employee owned.) “We’ve sold our interest in QW to the QW ESOP Trust because we believe that it’s the optimal way for QW to be owned and managed in the future,” Dennis said in a press release about the sale.

An Employee Stock Ownership Plan is a program that offers a company’s staff members an ownership stake in the company. This sort of ESOP is actually a trust that’s been created to purchase 100 percent of the equity in the company in order to provide retirement benefits for the company’s staff members. After one year with the company, staff members age 18 and above who work 20+ hours a week start accruing retirement units. They will be fully vested after just three years.

Even before the sale, there was a lot of evidence employees liked working for QW. More than 50 staff members at QW have been with the company more than 10 years.

Business Approach to Remain the Same

“Our priorities here at QW will remain the same,” Dennis says. “In other words, having a sincere intention to be of genuine service to our guests will stay as our company’s highest priority, with a close second priority of being of genuine service to our QW colleagues. Our third-highest priority is to be of genuine service to our owners. Now, via the ESOP, our owners are our staff members, so our second and third priorities are sort of combined!”

According to QW, the QW ESOP Trust is a natural next step for the community-based, locally owned company. It fits perfectly with QW’s Sustainable Practices Initiative, which considers how company decisions affect current and future generations, as well as their Fairness Doctrine for diversity and inclusion.

The QW ESOP trust now owns the QW operating companies, not any real estate. QW leases its restaurants and it manages the hotels for a fee. That has been the structure all along. There will not be any significant operational or leadership changes as a result of this ESOP program.

Succession planning becomes part of every company’s business strategy at some point. “Handing over the keys” has got to be much easier when you have such a talented group of employees to carry on the company’s mission. This all certainly would not have happened without the leadership of Dennis and the other QW founders: Mike Weaver and Nancy King Quaintance. A big tip of the hat to them all.

Jessica’s Mash-UP

Jessica’s Mash-Up

The many hats of Jessica Mashburn
By Brian Clarey, Triad City Beat
August 10, 2017

Jessica Mashburn and group

Tonight Jessica Mashburn is a DJ, posted in the raised corner of the lounge at Print Works Bistro while a genuine disco ball throws raindrops of light across the walls.

The regulars show precisely at 10 p.m. to this pop-up dance party; 45 minutes in, they’re keeping three bartenders and a cocktail waitress hopping with complicated drink orders as dancers fight for space on the floor before the DJ stand. By 11 p.m., the first conga line snakes past the wait station and through the lounge.

“Happy anniversary, Crystal and Jeff!” she shouts through the mic.

The party ends at 1 a.m., so Mashburn’s taking them up a steep curve with some classic disco and a little Bollywood before dropping “Despacito,” Luis Fonsi’s slow-burn dancehall grind with Damn Yankee — the version without Justin Bieber. The number incites vigorous activity on the dance floor, where sweat and hormones are starting to flow.

“[This song] will be requested four or five more times tonight,” Mashburn says as an aside to a reporter.

And then it’s “Dancing Queen,” by Abba, and women take turns standing on the raised platform in front of her DJ stand, dancing to the appreciative crowd.

See that girl. Watch that scene. Dig the dancing queen.

“Abba-dabba do it!” Mashburn implores from her perch.

She’s forsaken her usual headgear tonight — a collection of hats, headdresses and fascinators that take up an entire wall of the bedroom she’s appropriated into a costume closet — her hair now in low pigtails and a pair of oversize, pink-tinted glasses that wouldn’t look out of place resting on the nose of Elton John. She’s bouncing and sliding, pumping and rolling her arms so enthusiastically it looks like she might be sneaking in a workout.

The night wears on as a soft, coppery rain falls on the fancy cars in the parking lot and a patron hustles outside to put the top up on his convertible. The demographic swirls with young professionals, empty-nest scenesters and veteran club-hoppers, not too young and not too old, with nowhere else to go on a Friday night.

“There’s not a lot of classy places in town to go dancing,” Mashburn says. Where craft beer, tattoos and local bands are the cultural mainstream, the pop-up dance crowd in Greensboro is a genuine subculture.

She identified and built this scene through hustle and drive, landing it at Print Works, whose parent company, Quaintance-Weaver Mashburn has been associated with since she used to wait tables at the Green Valley Grill more than a decade ago. Now she regularly works wedding receptions here at the Proximity Hotel and the O. Henry Hotel, both as a DJ and performer, and programs all the music for other QW properties.

And then there’s this pop-up dance party, a way to make the party public.

It’s got the feel of a great wedding reception, a country-club social, the nightclub of a high-end cruise ship, a high-school reunion afterparty. Jessica Mashburn owns it: their diva, their interlocutor, their dancing queen.

“Ladies and gentlemen,” she shouts into the mic, “Lexie is getting married tomorrow!”


Upstairs in the Midtown home she shares with fellow performer Evan Olson, across from his studio in the loft, she keeps her finery.

There’s a wall of costumes, every one she’s ever made: a Wonder Woman suit, a Rockford peaches uniform from A League of Their Own, along with patterned dresses and separates in a full rainbow. The top shelf tumbles with headpieces, some she made for High Point Furniture Market with couches and dressers, others for New Year’s Eve, one for the last episode of “TheLate Show with David Letterman,” another with the five Olympic rings. She made one of a literal house of cards, to commemorate both the Netflix show and the precarious nature of our government. And there’s one she made just last month, the “Spy-crowave,” a shot at the Russia scandal enveloping the Trump White House.

Jessica Mashburns hats

There are pillboxes and sun hats, boas and beads, masks, tiaras, false flowers for her hair, wigs, a cascade of party shoes. Brooches, scarves, wraps, medallions, colors that mimic the brightly colored houses in certain Caribbean neighborhoods.

It’s difficult to tell if the wardrobe is part of her act, or if her act is an extension of the wardrobe.

Mashburn dresses to suit the gig. She plays the chanteuse when she works with Dave Fox’s jazz trio, provides a colorful counterpoint to Olson’s minimalist fashion sense in their AM rOdeO sets, goes full-on Mardi Gras when she’s alone behind the piano. When she sang “America the Beautiful” and the National Anthem before a Grasshoppers game in May, she wore a stylish blue jacket and a short, full, blue houndstooth skirt. When she performed her original piece about repealing HB 2 onstage at Birdland in New York City, she wore a little black dress belted in red with a matching red cardigan. And a swan on her head.

She was born to do this, whatever this is.

Mashburn’s parents are bluegrass musicians whose friends filled her childhood home in Greensboro with that high, lonesome sound. Her father played bass for the Carter Brothers. Her mother was one of the first organizers of Merlefest.

They taught her to play piano, and from there she ascended through the the Music Academy of North Carolina in Greensboro before completing her education at Sandhills Community College in Pinehurst, NC, with a brief stopover at UNCG.

When she was still a student at Southeast Guilford High School, she used to watch her mother spin records at Bench Tavern. Somewhere along the line she learned to tap dance, work a room, write a song and make a hat.

Now she sings and plays guitar, piano and a little bit of mandolin; she could probably do a serviceable job on a drum kit, if you put her behind one. She’s got an accordion she’s trying to wrangle a nice sound out of, and a violin she’s been trying to play, she says, her whole life.

The result is a weird mix between Lady Gaga and Shirley Temple, David Bowie and Liza Minelli, Nancy Sinatra and the New York Dolls. And if she can’t find a stage for it, she will make it happen.

She plays the solo shows on piano and in the duo with Olson, and holds down vocals with a jazz combo. She takes the wedding gigs as DJ and master of ceremonies, and as an officiant can even consecrate a marriage. She pops onstage at Birdland like a seasoned pro and will even play your birthday party if she can fit it into her schedule. She’s been asked to take part in stage musicals, but she can never find the time.

She’s booked 16 gigs just this month, between the regular Tuesday night AM rOdeO gigs at Print Works, semi-regular slots in the lobby lounge at the Grandover Resort, private events at the Greensboro Country Club and the Wyndham Tournament and a one-off at the Greensboro Public Library for the One City/One Book Fashion Show & Dance Party.

And if she doesn’t have the perfect outfit for each one, she will make that happen, too,

It’s the night before the pop-up, and though she’s got no gigs on the calendar there is still work to be done.

Tonight Mashburn is a songwriter, sitting at the piano in her living room while late-afternoon sun streams through the windows.

“Mueller,” she sings softly above a D-minor 7 chord. “Oh Mueller,” and then the notes move up the C-major scale. “It’s Mueller time… what will he find….”

She stops.

“What rhymes with subpoena?”

Jessica Mashburn

The day’s news saw the announcement of Special Investigator Robert Mueller’s grand jury, which has been hearing evidence about possible collusion between the Trump administration and Russia.

Mashburn’s no fan of the president or his party — she and Olson have a short catalog of political material, though it’s more the Smothers Brothers variety than Phil Ochs. She uses social media, too, to make her opinions heard. Some of it finds its way into her act, always tempered with humor.

“All the great political protest songs have already been written,” she says. “And when people come to see me, they expect a little humor. I think it’s the best to write political songs that sound kitschy, like ‘Mr. Rogers’ Neighborhood.’”

She rhymes Trump with, “What a dump,” works “Katrina” in there to resolve the “subpoena” issue and casts a verse that glances off the infamous “Pee Pee Tape” and OJ Simpson.

Mashburn says she left UNCG’s music program because it relied so much on classical training and performance, while at Sandhills she could concentrate on music theory.

“I wanted to learn how to be a gigging musician,” she says. “If someone says, ‘Let’s play “Mustang Sally” in C,’ I didn’t want to need the sheet music.”

She started performing right away, eventually landing slots with UBU out of Jamestown and Billy Scott & the Prophets, two regionally touring bands that brought her from southern Florida to Atlantic City, NJ.

“Then I wanted to somehow create a career that was mainly in my own ZIP code,” she says. “You sleep in your car in a Walmart parking lot enough times, that will happen.”

Tonight’s a rare night off from the stage — she gigged with Olson last night and the pop-up isn’t until tomorrow. There’s a DJ slot in two nights at a private party in Summerfield, and then it’s back on the grind by Wednesday.

Maybe the Mueller piece will be ready by then.

“There’s a man that’s been making the news,” she sings now at the piano to a meandering Broadway beat. “You’d not want to be in the president’s shoes. What will he find? It’s Mueller time.”

The song needs some work, but she’s already got the perfect hat.


CNN Travel

15 Charming Cities in the American South You May Have Overlooked

By: Perri Ormont Blumber, CNN
August 4, 2017

(CNN) — There’s more to America’s Southern states than cities such as Nashville, Austin and New Orleans.

In fact, in recent years, so-called “second-tier” cities in the South have witnessed a massive boom in hotels, restaurants and micro-everythings.

Travel companies agree, too. “With the appeal of an all-American road trip style of travel, famous barbecue cuisine and a rich musical heritage, we’ve seen international bookings to Southern US destinations double in the last year,” says Intrepid Travel’s Director of North America Leigh Barnes.

Their “Southern Comfort USA,” trip — which weaves travelers through Savannah, Georgia; Asheville, North Carolina; the Blue Ridge Mountains and beyond — has experienced a whopping 180% growth. With diverse picks ranging from San Antonio and its old Western feel to post-industrial Birmingham, Alabama, here are our 15 favorite Southern cities flying under the radar.

Use our suggestions as a launching pad, but in true Southern style, do yourself a favor and leave the day up to wherever your Frye boots take you.



A flight of stairs below street level, SA’s River Walk offers plenty of opportunities for dining and nightlife.

Grab a stool at Ocho, where you’ll get a bird’s eye view of the water, and wash down an order of the huitlacoche quesadillas with a Havana margarita.

Keep the buzz going at Jazz, TX, where on any given night you may catch jazz, Texas Swing or salsa. The tequila-based “For Grit and Glory” cocktail with jicama juice, watermelon and spicy salt foam may be enough to persuade you to sidle up to the mic for your own rendition of the Bob Wills classic “San Antonio Rose.”


The St. Anthony feels haunted in the best way possible. After you’ve gotten the perfunctory shot with the hotel lobby’s grand piano (Billy Joel recently test drove its keys), head to the new Sky Terrace, a hip rooftop scene with live music on Saturdays.


A vibrant city perched on the San Antonio river, the bustling River Walk melds European charm with Tex-Mex flair. In addition to the eateries, there’s shopping, museums and river taxi tours.

Sure, there’s the Alamo, the historic battlegrounds for the famed fights during the Texas Revolution in 1836. But San Antonio has a lot more going for it.

Venture to the Southtown Arts District, on downtown’s southern tip, or scope out The Pearl for its brewery, events, weekly farmers market and more.



You won’t go hungry in The Magic City. Eat too much swordfish and blistered okra at Hot & Hot Fish Club; drink too many icy cold brews at revered local haunt The Garage Cafe.

Keep the soigné vibrations rolling with a meal at Highlands Bar and Grill, a beloved establishment that doles out Southern grub with a French finesse.

There’s a new food court. Pizitz Food Hall is housed in a former downtown department store, but until crowds fade out, we’d choose Carrigan’s Public House on the outskirts of downtown. There, savor fine bites and killer martinis on their comfortable roof deck.

Barbecue is its own food group here. Carlile’s BBQ has the best potato salad in town, while Dreamland Bar-B-Que churns out melt-in-your-mouth ribs.


Sleep it all off at the newly restored Redmont Hotel, with an ambiance that still tips its hat to the roaring ’20s. Meanwhile, the Westin Birmingham has a Todd English restaurant, outdoor pool and free airport shuttle.


Gaze at 56-foot Vulcan, the world’s largest cast iron statue, designed by Italian artist Giuseppe Moretti in 1904.

It’s located inside Red Mountain Park, which contains two city overlooks, three treehouses, a giant dog park and zip lining.

As one native puts it, “It’s free to go look at Vulcan’s bare ass, but you have to pay to ride the elevator up to the observation tower and gaze out on the city.”

On a more serious note, there’s plenty to see at the Birmingham Civil Rights Institute and the Alabama Jazz Hall of Fame.

Or, make your way toward Sloss Furnaces, a national historic landmark that bleeds gritty, post-industrial splendor and is completely free to visit.



For your first real meal in Greensbohemia, savor a superior Banh Mi at Bánh Mì Saigon Sandwiches & Bakery.

Or, flip a coin to decide between Crafted – the Art of the Taco and Crafted – the Art of Street Food. The grilled, stuffed avocado at Taco showcases divine intervention, as does the shrimp bibimbap at Street Food.

At Southern comfort food emperor Lucky 32, brace yourself for dreams about their signature Voodoo Sauce, a trademarked secret that’s a tangy riff on North Carolina’s barbecue glaze.

Southern standouts like flash-fried artichoke hearts and local pulled pork on johnny cakes grace the seasonal menus, and one of their Carolina vesper libations should always grace your place setting.


Siesta in style at the O. Henry Hotel, where you can enjoy traditional afternoon tea daily in the lobby, weekly live jazz performances on Thursday and Saturday and loaner bikes, should the mood strike to take the city by two wheels.

Another fine pick is The Proximity Hotel, an AAA Four Diamond property, that’s employee-owned and the first LEED Platinum “green hotel.”

There are gorgeous gardens and greenways, along with eclectic furnishings and art made in the local community.


After hitting up the tourist must-dos of the International Civil Rights Center & Museum and Guilford Courthouse National Military Park, explore GSO’s funkier side.

First, visit Hudson’s Hill to choose from heritage denim and handmade gifts. Then, catch a show at Triad Stage‘s Pyrle Theater or The Barn Dinner Theater, which has been operating since 1964.

Finally, book a one-of-a-kind tour at Replacements Ltd., the world’s largest supplier of vintage and contemporary dinnerware, crystal, silver and collectibles.



Norfolk is home to a surprisingly dynamic vegan scene (our guess is it has something to do with animal rights group PETA being headquartered here). And even if you’re not into plant-based eating, do yourself a favor and try the vegan breakfast burrito at Yorgo’s Bageldashery.

At night, book it to A.W. Shucks, a raw bar hangout for locals, or enjoy a formal experience at Todd Jurich’s Bistro that has all the perks of an upscale restaurant (stellar service, interesting menu, fun people watching) with none of the pretension.

When hunger strikes again, head to Commune.

New for 2017, locavores and those traveling from abroad will particularly appreciate the 100% Virginia-sourced menu. Everyone will drool over the sourdough doughnuts with pastry cream and strawberries.


Rest your weary feet at brand-new Hilton property The Main, which is booking up thanks to its spectacular ballroom for weddings and conferences.

Or, check into Sheraton Norfolk Waterside Hotel, where you can soak up picturesque harbor views with your she-crab soup or crab cake sandwich.


Shopping fiend? The new Simon outlets open this summer. There’s also the colossal MacArthur Center.

If you’re in the market for new ink, book it to the NEON District for Fuzion Ink Tattoo and Piercing Studio, followed by an improv show at Push Comedy Theater.



Go upscale with modern Southern fare at Knox Mason or spear your fork into hybrid dishes at Bistro by the Tracks where the duck ramen is as inspired as the traditional butcher’s crock pie.

Our pick for the South’s most important dish? Sweet P’s BBQ and Soul House, where a rack of ribs and pint of ‘tater salad is about three racks and seven pints too few.


Any vacation that starts off with an old fashioned smoked right before your eyes is likely a good one. At the newly opened TENNESSEAN Hotel’s restaurant, The Drawing Room, sling back one or two of the aforementioned elixir before wandering around Knoxville’s highly walkable downtown hub.

The Oliver Hotel is a boutique property downtown with an outstanding beverage program at its literary-inspired speakeasy, the Peter Kern Library (order the Holly Golightly or Holden Caulfield).


Studded with musical venues, funky restaurants and a weekly seasonal farmers market worth planning your trip around, the city center pulses with a contagious energy.

Sweat off gluttony by paddle boarding along the Tennessee River or head underground for bowling at Maple Hall, a boutique 11-lane setup that feels like it could just as easily be in London or Los Angeles.



Treat yourself to a meal at Red Barn Kitchen, where there’s a whole hog barbecue roast on the last Thursday of every month. With a moonshine cocktail en tote, beeline to the upbeat patio, which often hosts local musicians.

The Kentucky State Fair runs August 17-28 with live music, cooking competitions and one of the world’s most acclaimed horse shows. America’s largest indoor fair also boasts The Great American Spam Championship, if canned meat is your thing.

To try more things, frolick around town with food-centric Mint Julep Tours where the Chicken Fried, Gettin’ Pickled and Butter My Biscuit tours will all ensure you’re not hungry for the next nine years.

If you favor staying in one spot, sip on a boozy milkshake and enjoy grub like a grilled cheese that (almost) rivals dad’s at Red Herring Cocktail Lounge & Kitchen.


Book a room at the 21c Museum Hotel tucked into the heart of downtown.

If the wide open road calls, tack on a quick road trip (about an hour and a half) to Shaker Village — where you can take in 34 original Shaker structures in the country’s largest private collection of original buildings from the 1800s — and spend the night at The Inn.


There’s way more to Lou-ah-vull than bourbon, horses and fancy hats. For instance, geek out at “Hunger Games: The Exhibition” as you explore the wild world of Panem at Frazier History Museum (through September 10).

And then, of course, there’s the bourbon, horses and fancy hats. Running into all three is pretty unavoidable here. Be sure to carve out time for a drink at Lola, the fabled upstairs bar of Butchertown Grocery. It’s got a speakeasy vibe, and one hell of a drinks list.



Nosh on Mediterranean bites at Red Pump Kitchen, or get comfortable at Draft Taproom, a haven for craft beer lovers, with 60 taps (the self-serve pouring system allows patrons to pay by the ounce).

The Fitzroy and Brasserie Saison are both newcomers and have beautiful interiors, along with stellar food.


Plan your stay at The Townsman, C’ville’s newest boutique property arrival with four carefully appointed rooms in the downtown hub.

If you’re looking for something a little more isolated, treat yourself to a stay at Keswick Hall at the foot of the Blue Ridge Mountains. The 48-room manor’s gold medal goes to its prestigious golf club, though we gravitate toward the grounds’ three pools.


There are two types of people who come to Charlottesville: Dave Matthews Band superfans and everyone else. If you’re in the former group, you’re likely making your pilgrimage to Miller’s, where Matthews himself once tended bar, to Matthews’ own scenic Blenheim Vineyards and to the Pink Warehouse where the band played its first official gig.

If you’re everyone else, swap Dave stalking for visiting a presidential home like Thomas Jefferson’s estate, Monticello, or Highland, the former digs of James Monroe.

Burn off all the eating at Shenandoah National Park, where you can snake your way through quiet wooded hollows and marvel at cascading waterfalls on the same hike. Pack lunch and set up an impromptu picnic within the 200,000 protected acres, alongside songbirds, deer and more wildlife creatures.



Music lovers, head to Lucy Buffett’s (yes, sister of a certain Jimmy) LuLu’s for an energetic vibe and serious seafood platters.

Or, complete your Bushwacker (an ice cream-based cocktail that’s as popular as a vodka-soda here) crawl at Flora-Bama, a dive bar, multistage music venue, oyster bar, Sunday church and occasional rodeo rolled into one beachside locale.

Finish up with a boozy cake from Rum Sisters or play mad scientist at newly opened The Yard Milkshake Bar, and create a custom dessert. Who said a glazed doughnut or brownie isn’t a suitable milkshake topping?


Newcomers to the hotel scene include Best Western Premier-The Tides, Hotel Indigo, and in July 2017, the area welcomed Island House Hotel, a Doubletree by Hilton.

One of the most luxurious oceanfront condo options is Turquoise Place, which even has its own on-site lazy river.

Gulf State Park also offers lakefront cottages and around 500 RV sites and a tent camping area (many have swimming pools and other amenities). Newly launched Gulf Shores Travel Trailer Rentals will allow you to reserve a spot at any of the local campsites, and then drop off an RV for you and pick it up when your vacation ends.


Make as few plans as possible — you deserve it. Plop yourself on the sugar-white beaches (which rival any Caribbean treasure) with a stack of magazines or a book. If you’re so inclined, a beachside slow-flow class with Glow Yoga is a relaxing delight.

It’s hard to have a bad night at the open-air Wharf Amphitheater (acts this summer include Kenny Chesney, Green Day and Eric Church), where in true vacation mindset, your best bet is probably walking up to the box office 20 minutes before the main act takes the stage — the $20ish bleacher seats are surprisingly stellar.

Dreading the vacation hangover? Blow off some steam at family-owned hub The Factory, a giant web of interconnected trampolines, Tarzan swings, foam pits and more that lets kids of all ages bounce their way out of back-to-reality malaise.



Seafood is king here, though you can find plenty of menus graced with Southern staples like butter beans and pimento cheese, if you’re seeking more down-home cookery.

At PinPoint Restaurant, chase a radish in NC butterbean hummus or candied pecans with a Tropical Lightning IPA from Wilmington Brewing Company.

A surprising standout is Indochine, where one order of the braised Vietnamese catfish is about one too few. Meanwhile, seafood seekers can spear their fork into daily specials or slurp up oysters on the half shell dusted with bacon, pimento cheese and more.


The Graystone Inn, built in 1905 by a railroad magnate’s widow, proves a nice place to count sheep and a spot you may also recognize from “Dawson’s Creek,” “One Tree Hill” and “Sleepy Hollow,” among others.

To fulfill your veranda rocking chair fantasies, check into The Wilmingtonian, on a quiet street dripping in tree-lined perfection that’s only a short walk to the Cape Fear riverfront, a scenic strip studded with watering holes, eateries and specialty stores.

All in all, Wilmington may have that dreamy, laid-back pace, but this port town is gaining serious momentum: an Embassy Suites opens in the fall and Aloft and Westin properties are also in the works.


Don’t skip town without paying a visit to Airlie Gardens, an alternate 67-acre universe with live oak trees (it gets its name from the 472-year-old Airlie Oak), a freshwater lake and winding paths of seasonal blossoms.

Another spot to absorb Southern culture at its finest is Bellamy Mansion Museum, an 1859 architectural prize that talented tour guides will bring to life with tales of its former residents.



Start at Triplett-Day Drug Co., a family-owned soda fountain that will teleport you to the “Leave it to Beaver” glory days.

Next, scope out the eclectic Fishbone Alley, a mural hunter’s Eden, which puts you a stone’s throw away from more local artwork, bars, restaurants and live music. (Be warned: Football game days are LOUD.)

Fight the heat with a small-batch icicle from Pop Bothers with inventive flavors ranging from Dragon Fruit to Graceland (an alluring medley of peanut butter with silky bananas and flecks of salty bacon).

Also book an outing with Tasty Tours in Downtown Gulfport, a three-hour walking culinary tour that spotlights five local dining establishments.


Rest your head at The Guest House at Gulfport Landing, an endearing bed and breakfast that dates to 1906 (it was restored in 2014, so you won’t need to worry about unplugging).

Or try The Almanett Hotel & Bistro, a cozy restaurant and inn overlooking the Mississippi Sound where all six guest rooms sport a private terrace. Worth noting: The shrimp here is beyond.


Grab a ferry to one of the area’s barrier islands for a half-day excursion with Ship Island Excursions (full-day trips are also available), where you’ll be spoiled with views of Fort Massachusetts, which was built in 1866, and idyllic beaches free from mainland crowds.

Also, it’s worth considering a wintertime trip, as holiday enthusiasts will rejoice in the spectacular Gulfport Harbor Lights Winter Festival, which runs from the end of November through the start of January. Last year it drew 60,000+ guests, not only for the dazzling illuminated displays, but also for the food trucks, rides, live performances and the 40 acres of greenspace it takes up on the majestic Gulf of Mexico.



A city steeped deeply in Moravian roots (they’re a Protestant denomination with German and Czech heritage), you’ll note this the most in the Old Salem Historic District and on your taste buds; expect Moravian chicken pie, sugar cake and thin cookies (try the ginger ones). Local brewery Foothills Brewing even creates a Moravian Porter every holiday season.

A glass of wine is always in easy reach here, too. Gaining traction as the gateway to the Yadkin Valley wine region, the state’s first and largest American Viticultural Area established in 2003 and now booming with 45+ wineries.

Or, take a tour and tasting of whiskey at Broad Branch Distillery. Another solid bet is Sutler’s Spirit Co. where you’ll swear their handcrafted gin is the nectar of gods.

Beer fans, drum up a list of tasting notes (and a hangover) at Small Batch Beer Co., Wise Man Brewing and Hoots Roller Bar & Beer Co.


The first Kimpton-brand hotel in the Carolinas, Winston-Salem recently got The Cardinal Hotel, inside the historic R.J. Reynolds building. Between the adult recreation room (oddball feature: an adult-sized twisting slide), indoor basketball court and bowling alley, you won’t get bored here. Don’t miss a meal at the ground floor’s Katharine Brasserie, named after the Reynolds’ family matriarch.

Landing in spring 2018, another historic downtown structure,The Pepper Building, will be reinvented as a 75-room Hotel Indigo with two on-site restaurants.


2017 marks the 15th season of the biennial National Black Theatre Festival, which features theater workshops and international vendors market, in addition to six days of theatrical performances.

For more cultural highlights, check out the Southeastern Center for Contemporary Art and Reynolda House Museum of American Art, which is celebrating its 50th anniversary in August with the opening of “Georgia O’Keeffe: Living Modern.”



Get a sense of Fayetteville’s local pride at seasonal First Thursday fêtes, May through October. Then, ride that happy buzz along the Fayetteville Ale Trail, a self-guided journey where you can fill in your beer passport with all the breweries in Northwest Arkansas.

Want to skip the trail? Try Columbus House Brewery, that hosts a running and cycling club and welcomes dogs with open arms. Alternatively, there’s Fossil Cove Brewing Co., which attracts an Ultimate Frisbee crowd and provides a ton of crave-worthy food trucks out back. Or try Maxine’s Tap Room, a combination revived hipster pub and community music hub.

Locals flock to Hugo’s , a mainstay since 1977, where the deep-fried potato skins are worth every calorie. For lighter fare, try Greenhouse Grille and marvel at how the hell they made Brussels sprouts taste so good (hint: frying them with pickled peppers and apple vinaigrette helps).


Waking up to the awe-inspiring Ozark Mountains has never looked better than at The Chancellor Hotel, and if your travels lean romantic, book your stay at the Inn at Carnall Hall, a lovely mansion that was once a University of Arkansas Residence Hall.

If you want to wallow in country vibes, choose Pratt Place Inn, a rustic and inviting getaway on 140 acres.


To quote a native, “Fayetteville is this lovely Southern and Midwestern mix where the Bible Belt, SEC football, back-to-the-land hippies, Walton (the family behind Walmart) money and university professors all meet up.”

Recently, Fayetteville has been making headlines for the mountain biking trails throughout the region. And cyclists will be delighted to hit the Razorback Regional Greenway, a 36-mile trail that connects six cities in the area, with plenty of attention-grabbing vistas. But if pedaling isn’t for you, get a dose of nature with an hour drive to Kings River Falls for a hike and pristine watering hole views.

History buffs will appreciate a visit to The Clinton House Museum, the former first couple’s first home together stacked with memorabilia and a beautiful garden (they were married in the living room).

To end the night, leave self-consciousness at the door and join the square dance at Backspace, a quirky performance hall.



At Andy’s Flour Power, a croissant or thick french toast with nuts, strawberries and powdered sugar is the way to go for breakfast. Even the Greek salads come loaded with crab meat and juicy Gulf shrimp at celebrated restaurant Capt. Anderson’s, and you (or the kids) will never tire of the ritual cannon blasting at the nightly sunset celebrations at Schooners, which bills itself as “The Last Local Beach Club.”


Perched on a 27-mile strip of sugar-white sand beach where the Gulf of Mexico and St. Andrew Bay come together, you’ll find more old-school Southern charm here than Miami-style glitz. We love the quiet west end of the beach and the spacious, airy Carillon Beach Rentals that also boasts five private pools, restaurants and a spa within a private community.

After a $30 million renovation, Sheraton Bay Point Resort really left no detail unaddressed, from the private beach area to all 36 of the holes on the Nicklaus Design golf course.


Put the smartphone down and feast your eyes on the natural wonders at St. Andrews State Park — if time allows, tack on snorkeling or kayaking — especially the two nature trails that weave you through a smattering of coastal plant species.

For a more relaxing encounter with nature, set out on a 55-foot catamaran with Paradise Adventures.



Down by the bayou, it’s difficult to meet a meal you don’t like. You’re dining in the Crawfish Capital of the World, in which the yearly Crawfish Festival in May draws hundreds of thousands of hungry and thirsty visitors.

Revel in the liquor-soaked Zydeco brunches at Buck & Johnny’s, then enjoy a flawlessly prepared gumbo at Chez Jacqueline. You’re in Cajun country, so while the service may be slow, the homespun food will be well worth the growling stomach while you wait.

End the day by dancing your cares away at Whiskey River in nearby Henderson, where the proverbial levee never runs dry.


Book a room at The Juliet in neighboring Lafayette (about 9 miles away) or stay in town at the Maison Des Amis, a Caribbean-Creole property which has a spot on the National Registry of Historic Homes.

Another excellent option to call home is Maison Madeleine, where you can take part in cooking classes and bass fishing.


If you or members of your party are antiquers, Lagniappe Antiques Market, spread over 17,000 square feet, is a must-see.

Meanwhile, nearby Lake Martin has made the Audubon Society’s list of top 10 bird watching spots in the United States.



Say cheers at The Dark Corner Distillery, a craft microdistillery with moonshine as good as your brother-in-law’s.

Dine at Smoke on the Water restaurant, a “saucy Southern tavern” where more cornbread stuffing is always the correct answer. (As is doubling up on the fried bourbon bread pudding.)


The Swamp Rabbit Inn is a refreshingly chic bed and breakfast that’s two blocks from its namesake Swamp Rabbit Trail, an 18-mile bike trail. Or, reserve your room at Aloft Greenville Downtown, close to downtown’s shops and restaurants.


Ride your Reedy Rides bike rental loaner around town or please your inner speed demon at LeMans Karting Greenville, where you can drag your European karts up to 40 mph on a 750-foot long road course.

One day, slot in time to hit up Falls Park on the Reedy, which has beautiful gardens and trails.

Perri Ormont Blumberg is New York City-born and -based writer. She’s a graduate of Columbia University and the Natural Gourmet Institute culinary school. Follow her on Twitter @66PerriStreet.

A Clean Well-lighted Place


By: R.S. Gingher, Sunset Hills Neighborhood Letter

(“What is music to you? What would you be without music? Music is everything. Nature is music [cicadas in the tropical night]. The sea is music, the wind is music. The rain drumming on the roof and the storm raging in the sky are music. Music is the oldest entity. The scope of music is immense and infi nite. It is the ‘Esperanto’ of the world.” ––Duke Ellington)

The jazz heritage of North Carolina in general, and Greensboro in particular, is strong. Think, for instance, John Coltrane, Thelonius Monk, Billy Taylor, Nina Simone, Dannie Richmond, Johnny Best, Eddie Wilcox, Woody Shaw, and Percy Heath. Our neck of the woods is a hub for performance arts, bolstered by strong music programs in a half-dozen nearby colleges and universities, most of which are right here in Greensboro. A strong appetite for jazz has existed here for decades. What’s been missing, especially in recent years, is a working menu, a functional delivery system for musicians. That appetite seemed to grow alongside the more familiar physical desire for good food and

A strong appetite for jazz has existed here for decades. What’s been missing, especially in recent years, is a working menu, a functional delivery system for musicians. That appetite seemed to grow alongside the more familiar physical desire for good food and gradual emergence of fi ne dining here during the nineties and later. But the 2008 fi nancial decline combined with that of North Carolina textiles, furniture, and tobacco markets signaled the end for many restaurants and for many working musician’s venues. With their demise also went the last best hope for many local jazz musicians. And yet…one hot August Saturday that year over 1,100 area residents and friends appeared on our lawn, veranda, second- fl oor deck, and throughout the park. They had all gathered, along with the mayor, to hear the viscerally powerful sound of

And yet…one hot August Saturday that year over 1,100 area residents and friends appeared on our lawn, veranda, second-floor deck, and throughout the park. They had all gathered, along with the mayor, to hear the viscerally powerful sound of authentic jazz, delivered live by prominent jazz artists from the stage of a fl atbed truck parked on the street (W Greenway N) dividing the park from our front yard. This third “Greensboro Jazzfest” took the form of a fundraiser to support organizations with missions to introduce the transformative and salutary power of music to children. Appetite had met menu.

Over the years we’d held a score or more of indoor home concerts. But this outside effort was backed by sixteen companies, one of which, Natty Greene’s, materialized in the form of our neighbors and some staff for hands-on support and supply. There were bar and food lines, golf carts transporting folks to and from parking, half a dozen porta-pottyies rearing up like sentinels in park and yard, and everywhere a cool racial mix of young and old lounging in a colorful patchwork of pitched blankets and folding chairs.

I’ve sorely missed the Jazzfest days and those of hearing great instrumentalists and torch singers in several of our local restaurants. Fortunately, for 15 years O.Henry’s owners have wanted to offer cocktail-and-jazz vibes like those in the grand New York hotels of the 1950s. In 2015 this dream began to materialize. Hotelier Dennis Quaintance and impresario Victoria Clegg, perhaps sensing a “tipping point,” teamed up to offer jazz evenings. Now, in the magical space of the O. Henry Hotel’s social lobby, outstanding instrumentalists and vocalists pay homage to the great American classics each Thursday (5:30-8:30) and most Saturdays from 6:30-9:30. Its Ensemble-in-Residence is the remarkably skilled jazz trio––pianist Dave Fox, reed man Neill Clegg, and double bassist Matt Kendrick. On Thursday’s they back guest vocalists, serving up jazz classics from the Great American Songbook. On Saturdays, a variety of impressive jazz ensembles support stellar vocalists. Astonishingly, there is no cover charge, though performances here are on par with the best jazz offerings anywhere.

Beginning in 2006 a group of friends and I started lunching on Wednesdays at the Green Valley Grill (GVG), O. Henry’s restaurant. Now on jazz evenings the familiar pleasures of good food, relaxed conversation, and tonic companionship there continue, for GVG’s bar extends into the lobby then for cocktail and tapas service,

“Spirit of place” suggests a field of felt energy certain spaces possess, some indefinable but palpably real essence we sometimes call “good vibes.” Such arenas invite collective celebration and restorative fellowship. I like to call such an area “a clean, well-lighted place.” The magical core of the hotel is its entrance hall or lobby, designed after that of the renowned Algonquin Hotel in New York City. It’s unusually beautiful, with vintage half-moon lighting and honey-colored, wainscoted arcades, above which reads O. Henry’s “The Gift of the Magi.” There the entire text of his best-known story is in gilt on green pages covering all four walls. The entire effect is unique and “bespoke,” speaking for simple essence exclusive neither too old Greensborough or old Midtown Manhattan but to both––a quality familiar, lovely, and unpretentious.

It’s a perfect space to lounge, listen, and enjoy the music, a place of harmony, contentment, good fellow-feeling, and restorative atonement. You can’t miss discovering this after a single evening here. In the lobby’s portrait, the master storyteller himself lounges, newspaper in hand, and sets the tone, as if calming surveying this entrance hall and its sojourners. Now no weekend feels truly complete without a ritual lunch and jazz evening here.

Fox8 Newsmakers


GREENSBORO, N.C. — It would be hard to find two people who are more forward-thinking than Dennis and Nancy Quaintance.

Not long after they got married in the early 1980s, they decided they wanted to become “Mr. & Mrs. Hotel-Restaurant Greensboro.” Mission accomplished!

‘We both love being in hotels and restaurants,” Nancy told me during a recent visit.

“We want people’s lives to be more full and rich because they dine or stay with us,” Dennis said.

Nancy is the vice-president, Dennis the CEO of Quaintance-Weaver Restaurants and Hotels.

Not only did the duo build the Proximity, which opened 10 years ago as one of the country’s most energy efficiency hotels, but also the O.Henry Hotel and it’s restaurant, the Green Valley Grill as well as two Lucky 32 Restaurants in Greensboro and Cary.

“I would say that mostly it’s a team. It’s cooperative. But if it comes down to one person decides about something, we would probably err with our CEO,” Nancy said. To which Dennis responded, “The way we often talk about that is that out of every 10,000 decisions, I should make one.”

A few months back, both made a milestone decision which they announced at this gathering of employees: they were selling the company to a trust that provides retirement benefits to the company’s 600-plus workers. If you’re older than 18 and have worked for the company more than a year, you’re in. You’re vested after three years.

“It’s a really sustainable thing to do for the company and they all know that the company will be here and they get to share in the success that we do,” Nancy said.

It also helps the Quaintances avoid challenges down the road.

“So that we wouldn’t have to be running around 20 or 30 years from now figuring out, ‘On no, Dennis and Nancy just kicked the bucket — maybe 40 to 50 years — (laughter) so what are we going to do with the ownership of the company.’ We wanted to deal with this proactively,” Dennis said.

But it doesn’t mean the Quaintances have given up their day-to-day involvement in the business. They’re still walking the properties every day and dealing with the challenges that come along including, most recently, HB2.

“Within a week of HB2 passing, we had over $100,000 in reservations canceled,” Dennis said.

There are also the relatively new concepts of internet ratings sites and social media which, if you’re in the hospitality business, can make or break you.

“The thing about social media is people can put anything out there in the universe whether it’s accurate or not accurate. But from our perspective what they put out there, and there’s a vein or truth sometimes in what a lot of people say and what you hear. So that’s our opportunity to think about how we can be better,” Nancy said.

“Our company is about as big as it can be. But my bet is over the next 20 years, that we add one or two or three, no more than five new businesses, but they’ll all probably be in Greensboro or within the Triad,” Dennis said. “We think most of our challenges relate to how well we take care of our guests and colleagues. We’re here to be of genuine service to our brothers and sisters who are in priority sequence: our guests, our colleagues, our shareholders (who are now our colleagues) and then the earth and her people. So everything we do is within that context.”

And that life mission is why the Quaintances are being recognized this week as the 2017 Advocates of Compassion and Service to the Community by The Salvation Army of Greensboro. The Salvation army says they truly live up to its motto of “doing the most good.”

For more information on Dennis and Nancy Quaintance and their company, click here.

Checker Cab

Dennis Quaintance and his newly-restored cab.

Dennis Quaintance loves the toys on his latest toy, a 1975 Checker Cab a few people might remember from another era in Greensboro.

From behind the wheel, Quaintance fools with a lever that adjusts a spotlight on the car.

“When you cut it on, you tell people they are supposed to get their butt out here,” he said.

This Checker is about to become a taxi for the first time since the Checker Motor Corp. built it in Kalamazoo, Mich.

It will join two English-made cabs now hauling guests at the O.Henry Hotel, owned by Quaintance-Weaver Restaurants and Hotels. The English cabs and the Checker will also work the nearby Proximity Hotel that Quaintance-Weaver plans to open in October.

Checker Cab Front

Guests at the airport or elsewhere will find the Checker Cab waiting with “hello” on its roof placard.

From 1975 until his death in 1980, the car belonged to Starmount Co. founder Edward Benjamin.

It was then blue and without taxi riggings. Benjamin motored about, inspecting his vast holdings, including Friendly Center, Starmount Country Club and many northwest Greensboro subdivisions.

Benjamin was eccentric. In buying a Checker, he perhaps wanted something different. He may also have liked the Checker for its ruggedness, with cabs lasting 200,000-plus miles.

Quaintance says Benjamin kept two Checkers: one at Starmount Farm, his Greensboro home; the other at his estate in New Orleans.

Until about 1959, Checker limited itself mostly to cab making. When its near monopoly on the taxi business in New York, Detroit and other cities began slipping, Checker started making a few personal cars, including Marathons, which Benjamin drove.

Hefty, roomy and air-conditioned, the car’s backseat has legroom sufficient to make three NBA players comfortable.

Benjamin’s family drove the car after he died, before Greensboro stockbroker Sam Hummel bought it.

“Dennis, you got to buy it and put it in service,” Hummel later would say, keeping after Quaintance.

“He just wore me down,” Quaintance said.

Hummel sold it to him for $6,000, which he considers a discount. It has relatively low mileage — 82,000. Quaintance says Hummel wanted the Checker preserved as part of the city’s past, present and future.

The car and hotels are linked. The O.Henry stands across from Benjamin’s Friendly Center. Benjamin also owned what’s now Green Valley Office Park, the Proximity’s location.

The hotel is named for the cotton mill the Cone family founded, along with others.

The Checker arrived Thursday after being overhauled and repainted by Sterling Carriage Vintage Limousines of Greensboro. The car now features the checker stripe and other taxi features.

Quaintance says the total cost is about $30,000, money well spent. He likes period pieces to draw attention to his hotels, which have historical themes.

Checker quit making cars in the early 1980s, but its vehicles remain workhorses. The 1976 movie “Taxi Driver,” with Robert De Niro, immortalized the Checker.

Quaintance took the car for a spin Thursday through Irving Park and Fisher Park. Hot weather made for empty sidewalks.

But when people are outside, Quaintance said, and you’re a passenger in the Checker, “you’d better pretend you are in a parade because everyone is going to be waving at you.”

AAA Review


We receive the prestigious AAA Four Diamond Award each year. Here is a feature written by AAA Go Magazine:

AAA Four Diamond LogoIt is rare when the sequel is better than the original. The O. Henry Hotel, which opened in 1998, is an eight-story, red brick reincarnation that easily surpasses the luxury of the original hotel built in 1919 and torn down in 1979. Both named after William Sydney Porter, who died in 1910 at age 48 and whose literary classics, written under the pseudonym O. Henry, live on. A portrait of Porter, who was a native of Greensboro, hangs in the lobby.

Conveniently located near Wendover Avenue and Benjamin Parkway, two heavily traveled local roads, and next to the Friendly Shopping Center, the O. Henry is perfect for businessmen. The 1920s Georgian Revival style provides a hint of history for a modern hotel.However, it’s today’s amenities and style, including the attached Green Valley Grill restaurant and unique bar, that make it a perfect place for locals to hold weddings, celebrate anniversaries or go for a dinner and drinks with family and friends.

Entering through an electronic revolving door, the check-in desk, on the left fronts a wall of North Carolina honey-colored stressed pine that generates a warm homey feeling. Viewing the “social” lobby beyond with a 25-foot high carved wood ceiling, leather and mohair stuffed sofas and chairs, and a view through the 21-foot high window of the hotel’s “signature” – the cloister garden adds to the ambiance.

Columns wrapped in climbing vines, flowers and shrubs surrounding the patio, and a centerpiece bubbling fountain, the garden is a great place for drinks, afternoon tea or to enjoy the sumptuous, free full scale morning buffet for guests. Adjacent to the cloister garden, is the Pavilion; a huge sunroom designed after an 18th century orangery where citrus would be grown. It hosts the morning buffet, which includes eggs, biscuits and gravy, grits, potatoes, cereals, danish, meats, juices – all consumed in a room with three walls of 10-foot high windows. You get your free daily paper here.

Social currents occur in the bar and Green Valley Grill, which is connected to the hotel. The flecked granite bar has one long wall of windows with shelves stacked with multi-colored liquor bottles and a facing wall of brick arcade and windows that are common with the Grill. The layout is so unique – and popular – that it is being patented.The bar window overlooks yet another possible nighttime dining area, a courtyard with illuminated trees, another central fountain and surrounding greenery. The Grill’s 30-foot high ceiling and frosted glass separators atop the booths add to an Italian Tuscany atmosphere enhanced by a 22-foot wide arched cornucopia mural by local artist Frank P. Holton III above the wood-fired oven used to prepare many of the Grill’s entree specials.

All this before you stay in one of the 131-rooms. A typical room boasts a separate dressing area with a granite vanity shelf long enough for a coffee maker, hand towels and real glasses with weighted bottoms. A wall-to-wall mirror overlooks the vanity and sink. A built-in luggage shelf sits atop four clothing drawers and is next to the closet, stocked with smaller pillows (in case the four on the bed don’t suit), iron, ironing board and safe. Frosted glass panes on the bathroom door allow privacy and can serve as a suffused night-light when closed. Black and white-checkered tile comprises the bathroom floor and the black/white theme surrounds the cast-iron soaking tub. In one corner sits the glass-walled shower. The nine-foot cove molded ceilings continue the feeling of space and openness found throughout the hotel. The multi-purpose armoire includes a refrigerator, microwave, glasses and water shelf, clothing drawers and a swivel 25-inch television easily viewed from almost anywhere in the room.The ample sized desk has two very comfortable cloth-covered chairs and variable lighting. A foldout couch and stuffed chair, coffee table, two bedside tables and a bed with an arched wooden headboard filled in with green padding, rounds out the furniture.

Special features: High-tech rooms with speaker phones, voicemail and high speed Internet; afternoon tea from 2 p.m.-5 p.m.; historic prints of Greensboro lining the hallways; grand piano in the social lobby; windows that open; plenty of parking and 100-channel TV. There is also an eight-machine exercise room overlooking a small outdoor swimming pool and a business center.

Reprinted with permission from AAA Carolinas.



By Catherine Carlock

Triad Business Journal, November 12, 2013

Quaintance-Weaver Restaurants & Hotels is in the midst of a $2 million renovation at its O.Henry Hotel in Greensboro, which on Nov. 23 will celebrate its 15th anniversary.

The O.Herny has also been selected to join the Southern Living Hotel Collection, a handpicked list of top-quality independent inns and hotels throughout the South that offer a “memorable experience through impeccable service, outstanding cuisine, high-quality facilities and the finest amenities.” The list, which is curated by the Southern Living travel editors, will eventually grow to 100 hotels through the South.


Dennis Quaintance at O.Henry Hotel's renovation

The renovations will take the hotel’s existing events spaces from a 4-star level to an even-more-premium 5-star levvel, said Dennis Quaintance, CEO of the Greensboro-based hotel and restaurant operator. Quaintance — who also goes by the title “chieff storytelling officer” — opened the O.Henry Hotel and accompanying restaurant the Green Valley Grill with partner Mike Weaver and their wives Nancy and Katherine in 1998. The facility was designed after the original O.Henry Hotel, which was located in downtown Greensboro from 1919 to 1979.

“We’re here for the long run,” Quaintance said. “We said, ‘rather than just touch up, is there something we can do to up the ante?'”

Renovations include transforming former administrative office space into a paneled event space called the Palmer Room, which will provide private dining or meeting space for up to 22 people, as well as converting a former business center into a new lower-level lobby.

The existing 1,500-square-foot Hawkins Brown Room is also being remodeled, with Quaintance-Weaver’s in-house construction staff raising the room’s ceiling by 17 inches and adding new lighting and glasswork.

Together, the terrace-level renovations span about 4,000 square feet and will be wrapped up by mid-December, Quaintance said.

While most hotels remodel or refurnish space every five to seven years, Quaintance-Weaver’s design team — including Leah Clark, artist-in-residence Chip Holton and lead designer Bradshaw Orrell — meets weekly to discuss improvement possibilities at its properties.

For instance, beyond the $2 million event space renovation, Quaintance-Weaver has been in the process of updating each of the O.Henry’s 131 rooms with 46-inch high-definition televisions, newly upholstered furniture and original artwork from Holton. The entire project will take about 30 months, Quaintance said.

The O.Henry is the only hotel in the Triad that is part of the Southern Living hotel collection, joining The Greystone Inn in Lke Toxaway, The Grove Park Inn in Asheville, The Swag in Waynesville, and the Washington Duke Inn & Golf Club in Durham on the list.

The Quaintance-Weaver team is working with Southern Living to plan marketing events for the next year. Beyon the “honor” of receiving a stamp of approval from the venerated magazine, being included in the hotel collection opens up a market of Southern Living’s 2.8 million subscribers and 15 million readers, Quaintance said.

“It gives us some prestige,” he said.

Cuisine and Screen

Cooking Class: Print Works Bistro

By Amanda

Cuisine & Screen, November 19, 2012

I had the privilege of attending Chef Leigh Hesling’s final cooking class for 2012 at Print Works Bistro, and I don’t know how I’ll make it to January 2013, when the next round of classes begins. This was the most fun Saturday I’ve had in a long time, thanks to Chef Hesling’s charming personality, festive and flavorful dishes, and my new favorite wine.

Some of Chef Hesling’s classes take place at Green Valley Grill, but the one I attended was held in a room at Print Works that typically hosts wedding receptions, and features a beautiful view of Greensboro. Several tables were draped with white tablecloths and decorated with flowers in a pumpkin “vase.” (These were raffled off at the end of the class, along with gift cards to both restaurants AND an overnight stay at the Proximity Hotel!) Upon our arrival, my companion and I were offered a refreshing pink cocktails, “The Local Beet.” The earthiness of the beet and the tartness of the lemon were more pronounced than the flavor of the gin, which I appreciated. I knew we were in for a top afternoon

Chef Hesling answered questions throughout the demonstrations, and made for a very delightful “emcee.” The first course was a duo of bisque-y soups, screaming with flavors of the season. And here’s the kicker — they’re served side by side in the same bowl. Butternut Squash Bisque reaches for sweeter notes, thanks to nutmeg and honey, while Truffled Cauliflower Soup gets robust flavor from truffle oil (king of the culinary world), and chive oil enhances both soups. After keeping the “boys and girls at the dance” separate long enough, I was daring enough to try both on my spoon at once and liked what I tasted. No dish during the afternoon needed additional seasoning.

Now onto one of the many highlights of the day: Chef Hesling decided to give us a taste of his home with a 2005 Kirrihill “Birchmores Vineyard” Lanhorne Creek Shiraz from Australia. It was love at first sip. The fruity, plum notes were the perfect accompaniment to our entrée, Seafood en Papillote. Grouper filets are baked in parchment paper, with tomatoes, basil pistou and herb butter, and opening the bag is like unwrapping a present. Steam rises up, and notes of basil, butter and white wine hit you. Swiss chard is a healthy and seasonal side, but the Prima Donna Spaetzle is the indulgent, comforting option. This harkened me back to my vacation in Germany — spaetzle is like macaroni and cheese, without the cheesy, runny sauce. Prima Donna Cheese is a cross between Parmesan and Gouda, and the little spaetzli dumplings absorb the flavor well. I cannot wait to impress my friends at my dinner parties with this course.

As if my taste buds couldn’t have been more stimulated, this sinful dessert is one I’ll be making around Valentine’s Day. Dark Chocolate Cherry Crème Brulee is like a brownie custard, with crunchy, browned sugar on top. Decadent. Though the crème brulee was plenty, Madeleines were served alongside — lemony, buttery and wonderful to dunk in coffee.

Though I wasn’t one of the raffle winners, being exposed to such creative, outstanding food was prize enough. No one walked away empty handed — in addition to a copy of each recipe, everyone got a goody bag with pumpkin biscotti dipped in white chocolate! I highly recommend the 2013 Cooking Class Series with Chef Hesling. You’ll leave with handy kitchen skills, new friends and a very pleased stomach.

First LEED Platinum Restaurant

Print Works is the First LEED® Platinum Restaurant

Proximity & Print Works named the highest rated “Green” hotel and restaurant in America

October 7, 2008 ( Greensboro, NC) — Quaintance-Weaver Restaurants and Hotels announced today that Print Works Bistro and Proximity Hotel have been awarded LEED Platinum by the U.S. Green Building Council. LEED is the USGBC’s rating system for designing and constructing the world’s greenest, most energy efficient, and high performing buildings. Opened in late 2007, Proximity Hotel and Print Works Bistro are the first in the hospitality industry to obtain the USGBC’s top level of certification.

Dennis Quaintance , the CEO and CDO (Chief Design Officer) of Quaintance-Weaver, is obviously delighted. “When we started the design process four years ago, I would have never believed that we could use 41% less energy and 33% less water without one iota of compromise in comfort or luxury and with minimal additional construction costs,” says Quaintance. “It just goes to show what a determined team can accomplish if they use common sense and get a little bit of help from the sun.”

His “sun” comment refers to the 100 solar rooftop panels that heat water for the AAA Four Diamond hotel. To illustrate how the hotel and bistro save energy without negatively affecting guest comfort, he asks, “How is it a compromise for a guest to shower with water that is heated by the sun? Or, how is it a compromise for a bistro guest if his or her dishes are washed with solar heated water?”

Quaintance collaborated with his subcontractors on every little detail and personally tested most products. “We tested so many different toilets at home that our children were anxious to see what they called the ‘commode du jour’,” he says. “We finally found one that works wonderfully and uses a third of a gallon less with each flush, and it did not cost one cent more than a conventional toilet.”

The rigorous testing for a variety of water saving products is paying off. The hotel and restaurant is on track to use two million gallons less water during the first year, saving more than $13,000 by spending less than $7,000 in additional construction costs.

“I’ve come to believe that it is an urban legend that employing sustainable practices with new construction is too expensive,” concludes Quaintance. “We are very happy with the results, including the costs and returns, of everything that we did. It’s not easy — but it’s not hard. And it’s definitely worth it.”

Proximity and Print Works did not attain this milestone by just using less energy and water. They also:

  • Recycled 87% of the construction debris (1,535 tons)
  • Sourced over 40% of the building materials locally
  • Used over 20% recycled content
  • Restored 700 feet of an adjacent stream
  • Installed the first regenerative drive elevators in North America, generating electricity on the descent for the ascent
  • Provided natural lighting (day-lighting) to 97% of the occupied space
  • Used elaborate energy recovery systems to provide large amounts of fresh outside air to all guests
  • Sourced 90% of the furniture locally
  • Commissioned local artists and craftspeople for original art in every guestroom, a cantilevered reception desk, spiral staircases in the lobby, furniture and accessories
  • Plus more than 60 other sustainable practices

LEED certification covers energy use, lighting, water and material use as well as incorporating a variety of other sustainable strategies. LEED verifies environmental performance, occupant health and financial return. LEED was established for market leaders to design & construct buildings that protect and save precious resources while also making good economic sense.

“Proximity Hotel is especially to be commended for achieving LEED Platinum. This facility is one that both the community and its guests can be proud of,” said Rick Fedrizzi, President, CEO, Founding Chair, U.S. Green Building Council. “Proximity is a showcase for high-performance, energy-efficient, healthy environment, and an inspiration for others.”

Officials from the USGBC will present the LEED Platinum plaque to the Proximity and Print Works Bistro at a ceremony at the hotel on November 10. On that same day, Proximity will hold its second Sustainable Practices Symposium, a three-hour discussion and tour about the design and building process using the LEED criteria. There is no charge for attendance, but advance registration at is required.

Built and operated by Quaintance-Weaver Restaurants and Hotels, Print Works Bistro and Proximity Hotel are just a stone’s throw away from its sister businesses, Lucky 32 Kitchen and Wine Bar, Green Valley Grill and the Four Diamond O.Henry Hotel.  

About the U.S. Green Building Council
The U.S. Green Building Council is a nonprofit membership organization whose vision is a sustainable built environment within a generation. Its membership includes corporations, builders, universities, government agencies, and other nonprofit organizations. Since UGSBC’s founding in 1993, the Council has grown to more than 17,000 member companies and organizations, a comprehensive family of LEED® green building rating systems, an expansive educational offering, the industry’s popular Greenbuild International Conference and Expo (, and a network of 78 local chapters, affiliates, and organizing groups. For more information, visit

About LEED®
The LEED® (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) Green Building Rating System™ is a feature-oriented rating system that awards buildings points for satisfying specified green building criteria. The six major environmental categories of review include: Sustainable Sites, Water Efficiency, Energy and Atmosphere, Materials and Resources, Indoor Environmental Quality and Innovation and Design. Certified, Silver, Gold, and Platinum levels of LEED green building certification are awarded based on the total number of points earned within each LEED category. LEED can be applied to all building types including new construction, commercial interiors, core & shell developments, existing buildings, homes, neighborhood developments, schools and retail facilities.

Incentives for LEED are available at the state and local level and LEED has also been adopted nationwide by federal agencies, state and local governments, and interested private companies. For more information, visit

More About Sustainable Practices at Proximity and Print Works:
Here is a sampling of the 70+ sustainable practices at Proximity Hotel & Print Works Bistro:

  • The building uses 41% less energy than a conventional hotel/restaurant by using ultra efficient materials and the latest construction technology.
  • The sun’s energy heats hot water with 100 solar panels covering the 4,000 square feet of rooftop (enough hot water for a hundred homes).
  • 700 linear feet of stream was restored by reducing erosion, planting local, adaptable plant species and rebuilding the buffers and banks. Approximately 700 cubic yards of soil was removed to create a floodplain bench. And 376 tons of boulders and 18 logs were used to maintain grade control, dissipate energy and assist in the creation and maintenance of riffles and pools.
  • Tabletops in the Bistro are made of salvaged, solid walnut trees that came down through sickness or storm and room service trays made of Plyboo (bamboo plywood).
  • Newly-engineered variable speed hoods in the restaurant uses a series of sensors to set the power according to the kitchen’s needs and adjusts to a lower level of operation (typically 25% of their full capacity). The sensors also detect heat, smoke or other effluents and increase the fan speed to keep the air fresh.
  • Geothermal energy is used for the restaurant’s refrigeration equipment, instead of a standard water-cooled system, saving significant amounts of water.
  • North America’s first Regenerative Drive model of the Otis’ Gen2 elevator reduces net energy usage by capturing the system’s energy and feeds it back into the building’s internal electrical grid.
  • Abundant natural lighting, including large energy-efficient “operable” windows (7’4” square windows in guest rooms), connects guests to the outdoors by achieving a direct line of sight to the outdoor environment for more than 97% of all regularly occupied spaces.
  • Building materials with recycled content include reinforced steel with 90% post consumer recycled content, sheetrock 100%, asphalt 25% and staircase steel 50%. Concrete contains 4% fly ash (224,000 pounds), the mineral residue left after the combustion of coal that is diverted from landfills.
  • 87% of construction waste was recycled, diverting 1,535 tons of debris from landfills.
  • Water usage has been reduced by 33% by installing high-efficiency Kohler plumbing fixtures, saving two million gallons of water the first year.
  • Air quality improved by circulating large amounts of outside air into guestrooms (60 cubic feet per minute) and doing so in an energy efficient way by employing “energy recovery” technology where the outside air is tempered by the air being exhausted.
  • Regional vendors and artists were used for materials to reduce transportation and packaging.
  • Low-emitting volatile organic compound (VOC) paints, adhesives, carpets, etc reduces indoor air contamination.
  • Guestroom shelving is made of walnut SkyBlend, particleboard made from 100% post-industrial recycled wood pulp with no added formaldehyde.
  • A green, vegetated rooftop will be planted on the restaurant to reduce the “urban heat island effect.” In other words, the green roof reflects the heat, thus reducing the amount of energy needed for refrigeration and/or air conditioning. It also slows the rain runoff and insulates the rooftop, keeping the building cooler overall. Currently, we trying out various plants on the roof in a test area.
  • “Education Center” for sustainable practices includes tours of our “green” hotel for guests and outreach programs for students of all ages.