Danville city officials and staff gathered Friday morning at Golden Leaf Bistro on Craghead Street as the River District restaurant continued its week-long celebration of its one-year anniversary.
William Gentry, restaurant owner, said the restaurant has served 49,000 customers and generated $1.4 million in revenue since its opening. The restaurant employs 46 workers, but it plans to add more as it expands its operation to include catering.
“This restaurant has done everything it was supposed to do,” Gentry said. “We believe it has been a great addition to the city and to the district. We have touched a lot of people through this little business that we are.”
When Gentry opened the restaurant, it provided the city with a fine-dining option. The restaurant, located at 215 Craghead St. at the intersection with Loyal Street, has continued to fill that need.
However, the restaurant is broadening its appeal. For example, General Manager Taylor Alvis said the wait staff now wears casual polo attire instead of three-piece suits. The menu now includes lower-priced small plate tapas dishes. Box lunches are now offered, and the restaurant has purchased a building with a full kitchen on Industrial Avenue for catering, which officially will begin in August.
“We have transitioned a lot,” Alvis said. “We’ve adapted to what our customers are looking for.”
The restaurant is open Monday-Thursday from 11 a.m. to 10 p.m., Friday-Saturday from 11 a.m. to 11 p.m., and on Sunday from 10 a.m. to 9 p.m. Danville native Chad Smith is the executive chef. He joined the restaurant in May after working as executive chef in Richmond.
Alvis said the restaurant and the River District are drawing customers not only locally, but also throughout the region, including North Carolina cities such as Durham and Raleigh. “We look forward to creating more partnerships in the city,” Alvis said. “We need more retail shops and restaurants in the River District.”
The River District consists of the central business district and historic tobacco warehouse district. Some of Danville’s most architecturally attractive and significant buildings are found in the district. With an aggressive, public-private preservation and rehabilitation strategy, the district’s historic buildings and warehouses now have new life as restaurants, retail shops, a branch university campus, apartments and condominiums, and places of work.