Though the John Edwards trial media circus camped out in Greensboro for weeks, cameras rarely panned beyond the courthouse entrance. The city received a direct slam from Andrea Peyser, a New York Post columnist clearly unimpressed by her trip to the Triad. In her piece Wipe the smug off John’s mug, she railed not only on the philandering former NC senator but proclaimed his trial site as the “derelict Southern town of Greensboro.” The column invoked the wrath of many Greensboro fans, who rallied to the city’s defense on the New York Post website. Greensboro News & Record writer Jeri Rowe issued a classy response to the rant, concluding “So, Andrea, come back down. We’ll welcome you. Even treat you to some barbecue. Seems like you need a break from New York. Bless your heart.” Rowe captured the perfect tone to counter the nasty column, reminding us of the power of barbecue to turn enemies into friends. Side note – I am going to start saying “Bless Your Heart” more as it can mean anything from genuine kindness to a sunny “screw you”.
I blame the Yankee strands of my DNA for my desire to send a “how dare you” email to Peyser, as I’ve considered Greensboro my adopted hometown since birth. However based on the many comments to her column, she has already received plenty of feedback from angry Tar Heels. So instead, below is a list of my ten favorite spots in Greensboro – please add yours!
- Brown-Gardiner Drug Store – The old-fashioned drug store on Elm Street is one of a dying breed. Customers can pick up a grilled cheese at the lunch counter along with their prescription, and chat with neighbors or long-lost friends.
- O. Henry Hotel/Green Valley Grill – Owned by local hospitality group Quaintance-Weaver, the O. Henry name pays tribute to the late Greensboro native and short story writer, reflecting the company’s dedication to all things local. The elegant hotel, a popular spot for weddings and events, treats guests to their signature Southern hospitality. The Green Valley Grill infuses their menu with fresh ingredients from nearby farms, including the incomparable goat cheese from Goat Lady Dairy. Make reservations on the patio for intimate al fresco dining or cozy up to the bar to mingle with locals and travellers.
- Triad Stage – The theater company presents New York caliber plays in historic downtown Greensboro, founded by Yale School of Drama graduates Preston Lane and Richard Whittington. In the 2011-2012 season, Triad Stage produced such classics as “Dial ‘M’ for Murder” and “A Doll House”.
- Pita Delite – Delectable Mediterranean pitas and salads – I have been begging them to open a Charlotte location for years.
- The International Civil Rights Museum – The museum opened in the former Woolworth department store in 2010, site of the first “sit-in” of the civil rights movement in February 1960. While the Smithsonian exhibits stools from the lunch counter in DC, the famous seats occupied by the fearless Greensboro Four remain in their original spots. The multimedia tour takes visitors on an often heart-wrenching journey through the civil rights struggle from the Civil War to the present day, culminating with a visit to the restored lunch counter.
- Strolling Elm Street Unlike the modern banking towers of uptown Charlotte, historic storefronts frame an eclectic cluster of local businesses in downtown Greensboro . Must visit Elm Street stops include Cheesecakes by Alex, the Mack and Mack showroom for women, and Schiffman’s for jewelry and gifts.
- Elizabeth’s Pizza Family friendly local chain with great pizza and Italian favorites such as spinach ravioli and eggplant parmesan.
- The Juice Shop – Not sure if the fruity smoothies qualify as dessert or a healthy snack, but are delicious any time of day.
- Carolyn Todd’s gift shop – I am not an efficient shopper but always find great ideas and advice for occasions from weddings to baby showers.
- Edwin McKay Used Books – Trade-in old reads and browse the racks to find text books, classics and best-sellers, CD’s, DVD’s, video games and more.