When you’re talking to a brand new Winston-Salem resident or a visitor, and you share how amazing Ryan’s Restaurant is, you may get some odd looks. But the natives know – we’re not talking about THAT Ryan’s…. we’re talking about OUR Ryan’s. Ryan’s Restaurant – Steaks, Chops, & Seafood. Extraordinarily delicious and exceptional service. Ryan’s Restaurant has been synonymous with fine dining, elegance, and special occasions in Winston-Salem for over 40 years.
Dennis Carter assumed full ownership in 2019, but he’s been a part of the Ryan’s story from the very beginning. “The concept,” Dennis explained, “originated with Scott Richardson and Kermit Phillips back in 1976. I was actually managing a restaurant in Greensboro at the time, and Kermit was one of my regular customers. He shared the vision with me and asked me to take a look and consider working for them. The idea was intriguing. They had identified some property that was just minutes away from the 800+ executives who were working at RJ Reynolds Tobacco Company and around the corner from Whitaker Park. I agreed that the potential was tremendous.
“Construction began, and we were repurposing before it was even a term! All the bricks in our building were reclaimed bricks from the Robert E. Lee Hotel that used to sit where the Benton Convention Center is now. That property was demolished in 1972, and we were able to bring that bit of history (which dates back to 1921) into our walls.”
The restaurant opened on July 25, 1977, and Dennis was there for the initial launch and first few months of operation. While he did briefly return to his previous employer, in 1981, Dennis returned and has been a part of Ryan’s Restaurant ever since.
“After I returned in 1981, we began looking for some additional leadership. I was able to recruit Jeff Sparks, a tremendously capable leader in the restaurant industry. And eventually, we bought out the original owners. And last year, I bought out Jeff. But it was a long, successful partnership, and we are very proud of what we’ve accomplished at Ryan’s Restaurant.”
Beyond the loyal customer base, Ryan’s is unique in that the staff turnover is extremely low. “We have 48 team members on average, and we have servers and bartenders who have been with us for ten and, in some cases, 20 years. Even our Assistant General Manager! She started with us as a 17-year-old and is two decades into her tenure with us! Our kitchen staff has approximately 100+ years of combined experience. The team’s expertise, as well as their loyalty to Ryan’s Restaurant, has been a huge part of our success.”
Dining at Ryan’s Restaurant is truly a unique experience. “This is where people come for an exquisite meal in an enchanting environment. Just a look at our woods – it’s hard to remember we’re literally five minutes away from downtown Winston-Salem. The woods and the creek add to our ambiance and charm,” said Dennis.
“Make plans to join us for the first time or the 500th. We are always eager to welcome old friends and make new ones!”
Ryan’s Restaurant is located at 719 Coliseum Drive in Winston-Salem. Call to make reservations at 336.724.6132 or visit online at RyansRestaurant.com. Be sure to like Ryan’s Restaurant on Facebook.
Ryan’s Restaurant & COVID-19
COVID-19 has created issues for everyone, and during the weeks of quarantine, Ryan’s Restaurant, along with many, has had to re-work their business model to adapt to the social distancing rules and regulations. However, they are eager to welcome back their guests for in-house dining! “We are completely safety-conscious not only for the sake of our customers but also our staff,” shared Dennis. “We are following the appropriate policies and procedures to safely welcome diners back into our dining rooms while maintaining appropriate distance for everyone. If there are any questions about our safety procedures, concerned patrons are welcome to call us at the restaurant or send us a message through Facebook.”