Afton Tavern Growing New Venture


Independent Tribune

Published: January 09, 2011

Concord resident Lindsey Schumacher opened the new Afton Tavern on Nov. 9 in what was formerly Max’s Ally in Afton Village.
“I loved the location, and I thought the restaurant was great,” she said. “I loved the patio. So, I started looking into how much it would cost.”

Schumacher was a long-time employee of the Greensboro-based restaurant chain Ham’s. The experience she gained from the positions she held at Ham’s, both front- and back-of-house, brought confidence to the new venture.

Schumacher began working as a waitress for the chain back in college and eventually moved her way up the ladder into positions that included director of operations. She was with the chain for 25 years, and left the company in 2009.

The 43-year-old mother of four now spends almost 12 hours a day overseeing the preparation and running of her own business.

“The menu has things that are similar to Ham’s, but I make everything homemade,” she said.

She has also added steaks, crab cakes and other entrees to the menu.

All the foods served at Afton Tavern, according to Schumacher, are prepared with fresh ingredients.

“Everything (at Ham’s) was fresh from scratch, but as things progressed and they got bigger and bigger they started getting things prepackaged,” she said. “So I have started to get back to the roots.”

Active in the community, Schumacher saw this venture as an opportunity to fill a void. When going out to dinner with friends, she would listen to what they thought was missing from the experience, and has used that advice in creating the Afton Tavern.

General manager David Herzinger and Schumacher created the recipes that are served daily at the restaurant. It is was also important to keep the price point low. Most of the lunch menu is sandwiches and burgers, averaging $6 to $8. Dinner entrees run from $10 to $20.

“That’s an affordable lunch. They get a sandwich and a side item for six bucks,” Schumacher said. “That’s what I’ve heard from talking to people. They love the food. They can tell it’s fresh and homemade, but it is so much more affordable.”

Some of the changes she has made to the restaurant, like adding televisions in the dining rooms, she hopes will attract the sports crowd.

“We have had some success. The Carolina Alumni Club comes in and watches the games,” Scumacher said.

Monday nights she has a kids-eat-free promotion and runs cartoons on the televisions.

“It keeps the kids more in line,” she said. “We are very kid friendly.”

Her secret weapon to attract customers may be one of her most popular dessert, the cookie skillet.

“People who haven’t been here before will say ‘my neighbor told us of this dessert we have to get,’” she said.

Six scoops of cookie dough in a cast iron fajita pan, served hot out of the oven with vanilla bean ice cream, fudge sauce and whipped cream.

“It’s the cold-hot mix that people seem to love,” she said.

Pledging to make her food fresh and homemade is a big job and takes much more time to prepare, but she believes it what makes the Afton Tavern special.

Afton Tavern has a bar area the former owner created; however, most of the sales, almost 85 percent, come from the food sideSchumacher said she would like to grow the bar business a little more.

“There’s not much of a night crowd around here,” she said.

Schumacher hopes to combine efforts with the fellow Afton Village business for a few special events. In the summer, she plans to offer live music on the patio in hopes of attracting the night crowd.

All in all, the past few months have been very successful for the business, Schumacher said. Moving forward, she hopes the time away from her family and the hard work of her staff will pay off she tries to become one of the many success stories at Afton Village.

Contact reporter Robin L. Gardner: 704-789-9140