LUMBERTON — The recently opened BoonDocks Seafood and Chop House offers an upscale — but by no means stuffy — atmosphere that belies the restaurant’s name.
Ask any dyed-in-the-wool Southerner for directions to “the boondocks,” and they’ll likely point toward a remote area that’s a little unrefined. But when Lumberton residents are looking for a classy place to eat, Trey Winfree and Richard Locklear hope they’ll be given directions to their establishment.
“In terms of variety, the restaurants we have here are limited,” Locklear said. “Our goal was to create a different atmosphere and a nice place for locals to enjoy fine dining.”
The business partners have a “yin and yang” relationship, according to Winfree. He describes himself as the “high-strung” foil to Locklear’s “laid-back” personality.
“I can’t remember in my lifetime a truly different dining experience in Robeson County,” said Winfree, who grew up in Lumberton. “When folks here want really good seafood, they feel like they have to go to the beach. A lot of folks go to Fayetteville for a steak. I want this to be a one-stop shop where you can get the best seafood, steak and service for your money — with an emphasis on service.”
Located inside the former home of the defunct Four Seasons Oyster Bar, the 5,000-square-foot restaurant boasts a pair of lounge areas. One caters to wine connoisseurs, while the other was built with cocktail enthusiasts in mind. The menu lists an array of salads, sandwiches, seafood and steak entrees ranging from $6 to $26.
A couple of signature dishes are oysters on the half-shell and shrimp and grits.
Winfree came up with the concept for BoonDocks in Utah, where he worked for three years.
“I spent much of that time going back and forth on the road,” he said. “I had a lot of time to travel, which meant I had a lot of time to eat.”
After sampling upscale cuisine in cities like St. Louis, Chicago and Los Angeles, Winifree realized the untapped potential for a fine dining establishment in Lumberton.
Boondocks, which officially opened its doors Aug. 1, is supported by a staff of 20 hostesses, bartenders and cooks. The kitchen is stocked with beef, produce and other pieces of edible inventory sourced from local farmers.
“I’m the little guy, so I want to support the little guy,” Winfree said.
Locklear and Winfree said the early response to their eatery has been overwhelmingly positive.
“We’ve seen an outpouring of people who say this is what Lumberton needs,” Winfree said. “And we’re happy to cater to the culinary needs of Robeson County.”
BoonDocks Seafood and Chop House is located at 3555 N. Roberts Ave. in Lumberton. Its hours are 4 to 11 p.m. from Tuesdays to Saturdays, and from noon “until” on Sundays. For information, call 910-370-0015.
Jaymie Baxley can be reached at 910-416-5771 or on Twitter @Jaymie_Baxley.