Thursday, January 12, 2012

The Drum

I've been thinking quite a bit about how we gently and tastefully extract the building's rich history and make it part of the brand without it feeling forced. One thing in our favor is that the soul of the JJ's brand was going to be rooted in music regardless of where we built the first restaurant. The fact that we are building it in a place that used to be called "The Drum"  - with all of this imagery and history (see below) is just dumbass blind luck. So, what do you do when somebody gives you lemonade? I guess you just try your best not to screw it up.  

All along there have been discussions about installing a chandelier in the (relative) middle of the "Drum" circle. In a recent discussion, someone had the thought to make the chandelier out of old drums. All of us at the table immediately and enthusiastically liked this idea. These little moments (and there has been quite a few already) are by far the most rewarding. Good collaborative discussions typically lead to these moments, but it takes a the right mix of skilled, creative folks who can go out on a limb, and equally skilled people to keep it focused and on the rails. This team has both and I'm thankful for that. 

I have engaged an old friend and talented steelworker Matt Ludwig ( on the chandelier project. And we have also talked about using the drum in other ways. (other light fixtures, graphic elements, signage) Stay tuned.  

Below you will find a blogpost from Charlotte Eats from Last July that explains the history of the location and shows some of the excellent print and signage artifacts from the Drum. 

Excerpt of the "Charlotte Eats" blogpost : July 2011

Early 1960's menu (thanks to Rick Fisher)

Original Drum neon sign

The Drum as it appeared in 1948

The Drum as it appeared in the 1980's

The Drum's logo and motto

1953 ad

1975 ad

The Drum Restaurant was located at 1520 East Blvd. and was opened in 1948 by Wad Smith. When the restaurant was first built, it was round and decorated like a drum. The original set-up included a lunch counter, two tables, four booths, and car-hop curb service. In 1955, it was enlarged to include 15 booths and in 1961, 10 additional booths were added. Curb service continued until 1968. Over time with the enlarging of the restaurant, the original drum structure was built around and was only visible along the roof-line.

Wad's son, Larry, began working at The Drum in 1960, became manager in 1973, and ultimately took over all operations in 1976 when his dad retired.

The concept of The Drum changed very little over the years. Consistently offering home-style cooked meats and vegetables along with daily prepared pies. The menu also offered king mackerel and black bass caught by Wad himself.

The Drum would run for 47 years finally closing on June 28, 1995 after the lunch service. The building has housed several restaurants over the years of varying success. The one constant is the visible drum still rising above the restaurant---a forever symbol of old Charlotte at its finest.

No comments:

Post a Comment