Everyone has places they have gone that evoke wonderful sensory memories. You can remember every time you were there and can’t wait to return. Ryan’s Restaurant is one of those places. The food, the setting and the service make every visit a special occasion.
Thirty-eight years ago, former owner Scott Richardson had a vision of building a fine-dining restaurant in an idyllic, peaceful setting tucked back in a wooded area that offered diners choices to please every taste, using the highest quality of ingredients, and only five minutes from downtown Winston-Salem. It was a recipe for success.
Through the years, the culinary world has seen many changes in tastes and trends. Keeping a menu fresh over the years while still remaining true to the original concept can be difficult, but the chefs at Ryan’s have mastered this beautifully. “Restaurant trends have changed dramatically over the last 38 years with everything from foams to infusion,” said Owner/General Manager, Dennis Carter. “There has been a huge expansion in just about every ethnic flavor you can think of and, of course, the most current ones being fresh everything and farm to table. We have and still do feature items with different ethnic approaches, primarily in Asian, Southwestern or Tex Mex as they lend themselves to the type of foods we start with as we are basically a steaks, chops and seafood restaurant. We will always be looking for new and trendy items to feature as daily specials or menu items. It could be as simple as using quinoa as a side (which we are doing) to adding a different or newer cut of beef. Our current Executive Chef, Jon Willis, is a young man with a tremendous amount of energy and knowledge about current trends. He is constantly bringing in new items for us to try as daily features. Our Sous Chef, Sarah Bishop, has made excellent contributions as well.”
Another approach that has come front and center in restaurant jargon in recent years is farm to table. “We have always used a fresh first approach to almost everything we do,” said Carter. “If it is readily available and of the highest quality, we absolutely want it fresh. As for the farm to table movement, we use the same approach. As long as we can get it in sufficient quantities and the best possible quality, we are all for it. Currently, we have several local farms that we buy from.”
Service is an important part of making the dining experience an overall success, and Ryan’s scores high marks in that area as well. “I think our consistency through the years is due in large part to our staff and our philosophy on restaurant management,” said Carter. “We have been very fortunate to find really good staff both front and back of the house, and we have managed to keep those folks here for very long periods of time. I originally opened Ryan’s in 1977 as the general manager, left for about two and a half years, came back in 1981 and have been here ever since. Along with the management style of my partner Jeff, managers Kelly and Brian, and myself, we are actively involved in the day to day operation and being on the floor talking to our guests, making sure that we are starting with the absolute best products we can find and being reasonable with the prices we charge.”
While many may perceive Ryan’s as a place to go only for a special occasion, this is a misconception that needs to be rectified. “Some folks think that Ryan’s is an expensive place to eat, but if you look at our menu with the small portion entrées, dinner salads and appetizers, it is very affordable for anyone,” said Carter.
Long time patrons will notice recent updates to the décor, but the serene, romantic and private setting will never change. The ambiance, service and excellent food makes dining at Ryan’s an experience not to be missed. It will be one of those sensory memories you will carry with you that will make you long to return.
Ryan’s Restaurant is located at 719 Coliseum Drive in Winston-Salem. Hours are Monday-Thursday 5-9:30pm, Friday and Saturday 5-10pm and some Sundays (call for more information). Reservations are accepted by calling 336.724.6132. For more information, visit the website at www.ryansrestaurant.com.