Words & Deeds

‘Excited’ Southern chain to open in Downtown Boise where local restaurants closed

Shrimp and grits are coming to a prime second-floor space in Downtown Boise.

Tupelo Honey, a Southeast-based restaurant chain serving “scratch-made Southern food,” has signed a lease to open at Main + Marketplace. The building at 8th and Main streets formerly was known as Capitol Terrace.

The spot was the longtime home of Piper Pub & Grill, which closed last November after three decades, and Shige Japanese Cuisine, which opened in 1992 before saying goodbye at the end of 2018.

Owner Hawkins Companies has been upgrading the building and is updating a handful of tenants.

The Tupelo Honey restaurant has no concrete opening date, says Kara Nemeth, director of brand communications. It depends on construction. “I think the hope would be to open this year,” she says.

When Tupelo Honey does pull out a chair for Idaho diners, it will be the farthest westward expansion for the restaurant, which was founded in Asheville, North Carolina, in 2000. All 14 locations are in the Southeast except for one in Frisco, Texas, and another in Denver.

With a balcony view of Downtown, the Boise spot “looks awesome,” Nemeth says. “We are very excited about coming out your way.”

Tupelo Honey chicken.jpg
“Scratch-made Southern food” is on the way to Downtown Boise in the form of Tupelo Honey, an Asheville, N.C.-based restaurant chain. Tupelo Honey

Tupelo Honey delivers Southern hospitality under the guidance of executive chef Eric Gabrynowicz. A four-time James Beard Award semifinalist in the Rising Star Chef and Best Chef Northeast categories, Gabrynowicz emphasizes creativity and responsible food sourcing, Nemeth says. Gabrynowicz trains executive chefs at each location but will not be based in Boise.

Diners can look forward to a menu sectioned into Snacks & Shares, Greens, Sandwiches, Breakfast All Day, Mains, Supper Plates, A La Carte Sides and Desserts. But specific choices vary depending on season and location.

“In Texas, we have more steaks,” Nemeth says. “In Myrtle Beach, we have more seafood.” In Boise? “I’m 99 percent certain that you’ll have shrimp and grits and fried chicken,” she says. “But I can’t go through and tell you exactly what your menu will look like at this point.”

“We try to take traditional recipes and modernize them a little bit,” Nemeth adds. While diners can enjoy Southern staples such as typical shrimp and grits or biscuits, other entrees will surprise the taste buds. “We have, literally, honey dust we put on the fried chicken to kind of give it an edge.”

Tupelo Honey brunch.jpg
Brunch time: A poached egg tops scratch-made Eggs Betty with smoked ham and housemade hollandaise over a buttermilk biscuit with a side of potato cracklins. Tupelo Honey

(Here’s an Idaho idea, Chef Gabrynowicz: Shock us with some crazy-inventive potato salad. Southerners make pretty awesome tater salad.)

Naturally, adult beverages will be a big part of the Downtown restaurant experience, too.

“We typically have a large-ish bar in each of our restaurants,” Nemeth says. “And we do craft cocktails. We usually have a robust beer program. We do some draft cocktails as well. And then wine. Kind of some standards. And then where we can — which I think this space will call for — a patio space as well.”

Online: tupelohoneycafe.com. (The chain is moving away from the “cafe” part of its name, Nemeth says.)

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Michael Deeds is an entertainment reporter and columnist at the Idaho Statesman, where he’s also been a sportswriter, features editor and entertainment editor. Deeds co-hosts “The Other Studio,” a one-hour music show, at 8 p.m. Sundays on 94.9 FM The River.