New ‘flower’ blooms at The Rosebriar

Since opening in 1987, The Rosebriar has served more sandwiches and salads at lunchtime than anyone can count.

Melissa Eudy and her husband Wes bought the restaurant at the beginning of 2023.

“I grew up coming here with my mama. This was the fancy place with tablecloths,” said Melissa.

Now, the Eudys have added their own fancy touch — floral porcelain plates for serving more sandwiches and salads. And pies.

Melissa Eudy resembled a plate-spinning circus performer as she consulted with a flooring contractor, passed out “I ‘heart’ Rosebriar Pie” T-shirts, bantered with her staff, greeted customers and conducted a livestream video for the unveiling of another fanciful change at “The Briar.”

Tawni Furr created this painted window at The Rosebriar. (Photo by JO GREY)

Eudy is a former educator and full-time people-person, but she’s also enamored of the historic space the restaurant occupies.

“This 1925 building was originally the Holt and Troutman Grocery Store,” said Eudy, “and we want to show the original integrity of the building. We’re going to tear out the carpet and refinish the original concrete floor.”

They’ve already renovated the bathrooms, and the couple admits they have more plans than the budget allows. Adding their personal touches will take time.

A smallish room adjacent to the large dining room, currently used as a party room and for overflow, had been a doughnut shop with its own entrance back in the day. Eudy saw its screen-covered picture window as an opportunity for something new. She was thinking about just painting something on the glass. Early this spring, Eudy called on her friend and local artist Tawni Furr.

“It was an ugly window,” said Furr, who is used to turning plain, ugly things like giant gray rocks into something worthy of admiration.

“Painting rocks wasn’t a thing in Pennsylvania where I lived. It must be a southern thing,” says the artist who got into the business of painting school spirit rocks because her nieces and her own kids asked her.

Custom Street Rocks was born in 2022, but it’s only one facet of Furr’s artistic pursuits.

Furr studied printmaking at the Maryland Institute College of Art and loves working with colorful, bold images in various mediums. Her mural painting skills shine from the outside brick wall of The Marketplace on N.C. Highway 73 and from the inside of The Hive116, a new membership co-workspace in downtown Albemarle. Her bold use of color also speaks of a bold willingness to try new things.

As Furr thought about Eudy’s window, she came up with the idea of stained glass, but with the budget limitations, she advised her friend to go with a “faux” version which would still be permanent, but more economical. They decided on a bold, stylized image of a rose with the original date the restaurant opened.

Furr used a painting technique in shades of red and pink framed in a metallic gold that created textures characteristic of authentic stained glass.

The Rosebriar staff and several loyal customers crowded into the party room for the unveiling on a recent morning while others watched via Facebook.

The sun shining into the room brought the shimmering rose to life, a fitting focal point for any future celebratory events.

“It is so gorgeous,” said a slightly teary-eyed Melissa Eudy during the video recording.

From the outside, the image is much more subtle, but Furr explained the planned addition of lamps and inside lighting will increase the visibility from the outside.

Eudy extended an invitation to her hometown supporters.

“Please come celebrate Tawni’s beautiful work and the amazing history the Rosebriar has,” said Eudy.