There are not many people around who haven’t heard of The Market Place Restaurant and with good reason. The location is perfect, the ambiance comfortable and inviting, and the food is impeccable. In fact, it has been open for 38 years. It was originally on Midland Road by the old Midland Crafters in Southern Pines. In 2011, they relocated to Olmsted Village in Pinehurst.
Bonnie Black, her son Luke, and their staff are the epitome of consistency. Walk in on any given day, and it almost feels like the movie Groundhog Day because the atmosphere, southern hospitality, and food is guaranteed to be the same. And in this case, that is a wonderful thing and is what sets them apart from others.
Consistent quality and hospitality is something Bonnie Black learned from a young age growing up in her grandfather’s store many years. The store, in fact, was just up Murdocksville Road where she grew up and just up from where the restaurant is now. She begged her granddaddy to give her a job to get her out of the tobacco fields, and so he did.
She had to pump gas, clean the windshields, and fill up the drink box. Then he taught her how to run the cash register. It may seem like light years ago that she worked at that old country store, but the lessons learned about hard work set the foundation for the success she has found today. Bonnie’s family can even trace its roots back to the Blue’s that originally settled in Aberdeen. In addition to Luke, Bonnie has two other sons, both proudly serving in the military.
Family still plays a big part even today. As you come in the door, you will find beautiful hand-made scarves that Bonnie’s mother makes and sells. If you have ever tried their amazing apple turnovers, you have probably felt like they were just like the one’s your mom used to make. That is because they are still made fresh everyday by Bonnie’s mother. And let me just say they are mouth-watering good.
Luke will be taking over the business in the next five or so years, and he is no stranger to the business. As soon as he was old enough for his workers’ permit, he began as a dishwasher at the restaurant working hard and learning the ropes much as his mom had, so many years ago.
Today, he helps run the restaurant, but his main focus is the food truck they added 3 years ago. You can see it at most events throughout Moore county. The truck isn’t something you see just at local events, they occasionally have the truck at weddings and bridal showers.
Speaking of weddings, not only do they serve breakfast and lunch, but the restaurant is so popular that people often rent it out for events such as bridal showers and parties. There is a beautiful patio area and it makes great venue for gatherings.
Bonnie began her career in restaurants by first working at the Pinehurst Hotel waiting tables where she found herself intrigued by the food being prepared and would talk to the chefs. Bonnie worked at The Villager Deli for about 6 years. After that, she went to work at The Market Place, and after 13 years the owner asked her if she wanted to buy it and the rest, as they say, is history.
The Market Place has a staff of seven, and they serve some of the very best soups and sandwiches around. My personal favorite is the Chicken Salad Sandwich which is on a buttery croissant with sprouts. There are plenty of local favorites such as the Roast Beef and Brie, and the Veggie with melted Brie.
You will find this is not a place that changes its menu, other than to add winter fan favorites, Chili and Brunswick Stew, and of course, Gazpacho and Shrimp Salad for the spring and summer. Why would you change things when your menu is perfect as it is? And that is what makes this place a favorite among locals and celebrities too. Recently, actress, Jennifer Carpenter, and her musician husband, Seth Avett, stopped in to grab a bit when they were in town.
Mike and Jane Ritter have been coming to The Market Place for as long as they can remember. Jane’s favorite? The Southern Reuben. Mike? The Roast Beef with Brie. He also gives a shout out to the Brunswick Stew.
“We love it because it’s relaxing. The food is simple and consistently good. You become friends with everyone when you come here as often as we do,” said the Ritters.
They also have gluten-free items on the menu. To make things easier for those in a hurry, they have even added an app so you can order online and pick it up. They will even deliver. For those that want more of their delicious food, you can purchase soups by the quart and gallon, salads by the pound, and whole pies and quiches.
Market Place Restaurant is “not just a sandwich”. So let’s see: local and fresh food; locally owned and operated; great service from people who treat you like family; warm, friendly atmosphere; gluten-free-options; an app for convenience; delivery; larger options for take-home; and did we mention, great food?
If you haven’t been there yet, you need to check it out. I guarantee you will find what will become your favorite on the menu too. While you are there, you can get a hand-made scarf or a Market Place t-shirt or hat. Wear your pride for The Market Place and get a bite to eat while you’re at it. Heck, order it on the app and have it delivered. Either way, you will find yourself coming back again and again.