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LUCI WELDON/The Warren Record

Business partners, employees, family members, friends and local citizens gather Thursday night for a ribbon cutting ceremony during pre-grand opening festivities for On Main Southern Eatery & Venue in downtown Warrenton. Pictured on front row are, beginning with the second from the left, employees Rockele Bryant, Brittany Cook and Kati Ayscue, business partner Andre McNeil, Warrenton businesswoman Tilda Hendricks, business partners Ron Judkins and Emily McCormick, McCormick’s sons Charles and Gary, her mother Geraldine Brown, her sister Ann Brown, Warren County Economic Development Director Stacy Woodhouse and McCormick’s sister-in-law Carol Montague-Davis.

What do you get when you combine the expertise of four partners with experience in diverse fields, including business, music, event planning and catering? You get On Main Southern Eatery & Venue, which opened last week at 139 S. Main St. in downtown Warrenton at the corner of Main and Franklin streets.

Operating the restaurant/venue is 3MJ Enterprise Group, which consists of Warren County natives and Warren County High School graduates Emily McCormick and Ron Judkins, and Andre McNeil of Clayton and Kenyatta Morrisey of Raleigh.

The group initially planned to open an events venue center, but welcomed the opportunity to go into the restaurant business as well after securing the downtown site on Aug. 1. From there, it was a quick turnaround before a pre-grand opening celebration with family, friends and local businesspeople last Thursday and the official grand opening on Friday.

McCormick described the restaurant’s buffet menu as traditional Southern cuisine, including as fried chicken, potato salad, green beans, macaroni and cheese, and yeast rolls, with a twist as the cooking staff brings their own flair to classic dishes, such as bread pudding with a whiskey glaze. Other items, such as rice pilaf, will be offered on a rotating basis to bring additional variety to the menu.

On Main Southern Eatery & Venue will offer daily specials as follows: meatloaf on Mondays, grilled pork chop on Tuesdays, hamburger steak with gravy on Wednesdays, jerk chicken on Thursdays and seafood on Fridays – flounder at lunch with catfish nuggets, pulled pork and popcorn shrimp added for dinner. Sunday specials will feature turkey with gravy, Mississippi pot roast and honey-baked ham.

The menu also will include a la carte desserts, such as peach cobbler sundae with a cognac glaze and traditional sweet potato pie. Future menu plans include the addition of steaks.

On Main will operate on a schedule which combines its functions as both a restaurant and event venue.

On Mondays, the restaurant will be open from 11 a.m.-3 p.m. with the afternoon reserved for chicken or fish plate fundraisers for nonprofit organizations.

The restaurant will be open for both lunch and dinner on Tuesdays through Thursdays, operating from 11 a.m.-8 p.m.

On Fridays, On Main will be open from 11 a.m.-9 p.m. and will offer live music in the evening with a diverse range of talent from the local area and beyond. Among the groups that will appear are business partner Andre McNeil’s band and a band featuring McCormick’s husband, Gary.

On Saturdays, the restaurant will offer a breakfast buffet from 7-11:30 a.m. The afternoon will be reserved for private events.

Sunday hours will be 11 a.m.-6 p.m.

In addition to the restaurant aspect of the business, the four business partners want to offer a number of family-friendly community activities, such as small-scale dinner theater, Black History Month presentations, and Jazz and Jokes, McCormick said. Other events in the works include a breakfast and health symposium featuring McCormick’s brother, playwright Garrett Davis.

On Main will be available for rent by the public for a variety of activities, such as church anniversaries, class reunions, wedding receptions, bar mitzvahs, small-scale dinner events, Christmas celebrations and more.

McCormick envisions the venue, with a maximum capacity of 120 people, to fill a niche for those seeking an event setting smaller than the Warren County Armory Civic Center.

Having four business partners with differing areas of expertise allows On Main to assist clients with every stage of the planning process, she added. That includes menu, entertainment, decorations and more. The menu can include everything from classic Southern food to steaks and salmon.

“We can help create the experience they want with their budget in mind,” McCormick said.

Less than one week since On Main opened, the community is embracing the new restaurant/event venue, McCormick said. Her WCHS classmates Shena Royster and Mike Williams, have stopped by, as has her former teacher, Mary Henderson of South Warren Elementary School.

“It feels good to come home and feel the support,” McCormick said. “We have had so much outpouring. It has been phenomenal.”

The four business partners view On Main not as being in direct competition with other downtown restaurants, but as enhancing what is currently available.

“(We’re) excited to be here, to bring another option in town,” McCormick said. “I wanted to (fill) another niche that was not already filled.”

On Main Southern Eatery & Venue may be reached at 252-879-0059. For more information, visit the website, onmainsoutherneatery.com, or on social media.