Shana Whitehead of Muddy Creek Cafe and Music Hall discusses why she fell in love with the idea of starting a restaurant and music venue in the heart of Sparta, North Carolina.
I remember coming up here for the first time on a Monday in January and I just fell in love with the place. I feel like if you could fall in love with a mountain town on a Monday in January, there's really something special about it. Muddy Creek Cafe is a full-service restaurant — we also have a full bar. We feature chef-prepared menu items, craft cocktails, but we also offer music, and that is where the Music Hall comes into it.
We have ticketed concerts, we have traveling artists that perform in our Music Hall, but we also have a stage in the cafe. Oftentimes we'll have music on a Friday or Saturday evening on the stage in the cafe and when the weather is nice we put the music outside. When we first discovered Sparta, one of the things that really impressed us were how many artists and creatives live in this community, whether it's pottery or woodworking or jewelry making, there's a lot of really creative entrepreneurs already in this area. It seemed like a place where really creative food and music would be a great fit for a town like this. One thing that really appealed to us was that Sparta has a community college, Wilkes Community College, here and to me that meant there's going to be resources through classes, their continuing education, and also the availability to find staff, so that was really appealing.
One of the things I think looking back on if I were to change anything, is really the resources that are available and the mentorship. Sometimes I didn't reach out to mentors until I was really running into a problem. I think had I reached out sooner, had I recognized that. I might have a skill set in a certain area, if that's not my love I need to reach out and have somebody else help me with that. So those are some of the things I think I would have done differently if I were to do it over. I would get an accountant right off the bat.
Hi, I'm Shawna Whitehead. My partner, Bill Heath, and I are the founders and owners of Muddy Creek Cafe & Music Hall. We have a beautiful full-service restaurant and a music hall here in Sparta in the mountains of Allegheny County. We also have a brand new location opening up in historic Old Salem in Winston-Salem. Please visit our website, find us on Facebook, and most importantly come out and see us.