By Dave Russell
A feed-the-people restaurant, fancy European breads and accoutrements, a 3/4-pound breakfast sandwich, tattoos and haircuts are all on the menu for Sylva, as the business scene is thriving.
Crystal Pace and Santiago Guzzetti, the husband/wife team behind Ilda in Sylva, have opened – or re-opened – Meatballs, a popular restaurant in Sylva from 1983-2000. Pace is the stepdaughter of Karen Martar, the owner of the original Meatballs and a popular figure around town. Martar died in 2007 at age 50 after a battle with cancer.
Martar’s Meatballs dished out the pasta and pizza where Ilda is now, at the intersection of Mill and Main. The new Meatballs is in the old Pie Times next to Innovation Brewing, just a stones throw from Ilda.
Ilda has gained a reputation as an elegant dining experience, including recognition as a Top Restaurant in the Carolinas by Eater, a website offering food news and dining guides from across the country.
The couple wanted to open a family restaurant where all would feel welcome.
“Something for everybody,” Guzzetti said.
The menu includes a 1983 section featuring Martar’s dishes.
“We wanted to bring back to life the old-school Sylva staples,” Guzzetti said. “Most of the old school pies – cheese, pepperoni, gramma – are being featured again. We also have calzones and meatball subs.”
“It has been 40 years since she opened Meatballs,” Pace said. “She did a little bit of everything. She was known for her specials. Obviously we brought back the pasta but we wanted to bring back the pizza side, too.”
A large wood-fired oven behind the bar puts the finishing touch on Neopolitan pizza. Meatballs sells pizza by the slice or by the pie, including a Roman square pizza.
Beer and wine service, with a limited cocktail menu, will be available soon.
“We pre-batch all our cocktails and everything will be on tap as well as the beers,” Guzzetti said. “We also partner with Innovation so we carry a bunch of their products as well.”
One wall of the restaurant is dedicated to Martar, Poloroids showing her with family members, former employees and even one with Harrison Ford when he was in town to film “The Fugitive” movie.
Robin Sharrett of Birds-Eye Handyman Service did the woodwork on the inside of the building and built the bar, with cedar touches all around the dining room.
“Most of the wood at Ilda is wormy chestnut, and most of the wood we use here is cedar,” Guzzetti said.
Much of the wood came from Pace’s father, Bobby Pace, owner of stained glass studio Riverwood Menagerie for many years.
The restaurateurs have changed the name of another of their businesses. What was once Papou’s became The Wine Bar and Cellar when the duo and a partner bought it, and is now Santé and completely owned by the couple.
“‘À votre santé’ is French for ‘to good health, cheers,’ and it is also a play on Santiago’s name; we all call him Santi,” Pace said.
Santé will still offer charcuterie and other small bites and fine wines.
“We change the wines by-the-glass at least twice a week, so it is always rotating and evolving,” Pace said.
Tattoos, other goods
Ink hits skin soon at 642 W. Main St. when Yori Linhthasack takes up the gun at Sylva Bullet Tattoo and Trading Post.
She and her boyfriend, Gary Stockton, recently moved up from Florida.
“I owned a tattoo shop in Pinellas Park, Florida and I sold that last year and I moved up here with my parents and Yori, and we’re excited to be a part of this town,” Stockton said.
Stockton’s parents live in Whittier, and while he didn’t grow up in Jackson County, his family vacationed in the area often.
“We’re going to have retail items, locally made products,” he said. “I make things, candles and what-not and I like antiquing and we’ll have antiques in here.”
The back part of the store will hold the tattooing chair and equipment.
“She does the art, I do the numbers,” Stockton said.
As of last Thursday, the couple were waiting on inspections from the fire and health departments to open the doors.
Hours are flexible, expected to be Wednesday through Sunday open mornings and evenings, including some late nights, Linhthesack said.
New breakfast service
B & Al’s restaurant, at 1558 W. Main near Harold’s Supermarket, is now serving breakfast.
“We wanted to keep it simple, make it quick,” said David Blanton, jack-of-all-trades at B & Al’s. “Everything is about handheld these days,” he said, holding his cell phone. “We serve a handheld breakfast device. It’s big, it’s a lot, it is designed for the bubbas who work around here. It’s a hearty biscuit, sandwich or served on a bun.”
Offerings include bacon, egg and cheese, sausage, gravy biscuits.
“Monday morning we did a bologna, egg and cheese with mayo and tomato on a 4-inch bun and it weighed 3/4 of a pound,” Blanton said.
Fast food offerings can’t math that, he said.
Having said that, B & Al’s gets breakfast out in a hurry, he said.
Breakfast starts going out the takeout window at about 6 a.m.
“We go with that until about 10:30, then we transition from 10:30 to 11 for lunch, and lunch has always been from 11 a.m. until 3 p.m.,” said owner John Faulk.
Phone-in orders are welcome at 586-5686.
European goods on Main
Fresh baked goods and a touch of Europe comes to town when Little Cove Bread opens in the former Luna Sandwich Shop space at 646 W. Main St.
“For the past couple of years I’ve been running kind of a cottage bakery from my home in Franklin,” business owner and baker Tom Truhlar said. “I started at the Franklin farmers market and then went over to the Sylva farmers market, where business was going really well. I met a lot of nice people there and managed to get a regular clientele going.”
He distributes his bread to restaurants in the region, Truhlar said.
“The idea is to have the bread that I usually have available for wholesale and farmers markets at the retail space,” he said.
Italian breads, such as foccacia and ciabatta, are Truhlar’s specialty, he said.
“I try to use as much organic ingredients and when they are not organic, I am very selective,” he said. “Lots of sea salt and good olive oil, and I follow the traditional Italian process with the dough-making as well.”
Once in his storefront, Truhlar is looking to add goodies like pastries and cinnamon rolls to his repertoire.
“I’m also going to have a cold case with North Carolina and Georgia cheese, domestic salami and sliced ham and things like that,” he said. “I’m also going to have a variety of special import items – spreads and jellies, meats and cheeses and things like that, plus beverages.”
Truhlar hopes to open in April, but it’s too early to know the days and hours he will be open.
Little Cove Bread is on Facebook, but is most active on Instragram, he said. A search on the bakery’s name finds it easily in Instragram.
Hair cuts and more
Right next door at 648 W. Main, the space that previously held Jackson Tech Repair, is a new hair salon, Gertrude and Lloyd. That couple is not in the building, but husband and wife team Patrick Cochran and Blair Smoker cut, color, wash, trim and do pretty much anything else with hair.
The name of the business comes from Gertrude Dills McKee and the Lloyd Hotel, Smoker said.
“We wanted to tie in to some history of Sylva and honor McKee’s hard work,” she said. “As soon as we heard we were in the old Lloyd Hotel, we knew we had to use that as well.”
The two met in a salon in Marietta, Georgia before moving to Jackson County, and marrying in Webster in 2015.
“We offer hair-cutting and coloring services, but no perms,” Smoker said.
“I’m more color-focused, but I cut hair as well,” Cochran said.
A point of pride for the couple is a dedication to sustainability.
“We offset our carbon footprint with a recycling program,” Smoker said. “We recycle 95 percent of our waste.”
Hours are flexible, Smoker said.
“We try to be open at about 10 a.m. and close at about 5 or 7 p.m., depending on the day,” Smoker said. “We’re open every day except Tuesdays and Wednesdays.”
The salon opens at about 12:30 on Sundays.
Walk-ins are welcome.
“We offer online booking as well as texting or calling to book,” Smoker said.
Contact Gertrude & Lloyd at 283-0809, email@example.com or find them on Instagram at @gertrude_and_lloyd.
Friends of Panthertown is bringing a bit of the valley to Sylva when they take over the old Jackson County Tourism Development Authority space at 116 Central St. The building would serve as a meeting hub and a place for staff to work other than their kitchen tables, Director Jason Kimenker said.
Over at 25 Schulman St., Specialties Plus of N.C. looks to move into the old Mountain Projects building, but nothing is etched in stone.
Over at Parlor & Co., owner Natalie Newman is looking to expand her business to include an esthetician, a natural hair specialist and two additional cosmetologists.
The Freedom Pavilion, part history museum, part art experience, part souvenir shop, opens April 21 in the former Massie Furniture building on West Main Street. A notable collection of art from the Berlin Wall is available for viewing.