Blossom Hill BBQ & Burgers opens at 11 a.m. Tuesday. That leak on a Facebook post earlier Sunday nailed it. The hours are 11 a.m. until 9 p.m. Tuesday through Thursday, and until 10 p.m. Friday and Saturday. Closed Sunday and Monday. The menu should be posted by Monday. Facebook
- Below, please see our story about the restaurant, the planned menu and the people behind it from May 23.
By Leanne Cook (story and photos)
Here’s the inside story on one of Rome’s most anticipated restaurants.
Just the facts: Kevin Dillmon and his restaurant team are almost ready to open Blossom Hill BBQ & Burgers on Fourth Avenue off West Third Street in the River District of Rome.
“We expect to start serving sometime around the beginning of June,” says Dillmon, also the owner of Honeymoon Bakery and Aventine restaurant. Blossom Hill (this restaurant and next-door Aventine are named for two of Rome’s seven hills) is just about ready with a casual dining concept meticulously focused on details to provide both food and an experience.
“There are several great barbecue restaurants in Floyd County but I believe there is room for one more. Especially with our indoor/outdoor concept. We think outside dining is essential in a COVID world,” says Dillmon. With more than 100 seats, along with a bar and restrooms, the outdoor area is ready for food, drinks, conversation and even games – including ping pong, bocce ball and a putting green.
Thoughtful décor with local touches: “You will know you are in Rome,” says Dillmon about the restaurant’s atmosphere, brought to life by Summer Williams Design. “The building has been here since the ’50s and we wanted to keep as much of the original structure as possible.”
For example, the shiny floor only looks like granite. It actually is original concrete stripped and given a deluxe polish. Overhead beams are original to the building, as are the walls with their unique cinder block and brick pattern (uncovered in the construction process). New pieces were chosen or created to fit right in with Blossom Hill’s Americana theme.
In addition, Blossom Hill is going to be one of the first local restaurants to use aluminum cups from the Shannon-based Ball Corp. plant, complete with the restaurant logo.
Restaurant tables are fashioned from well-used oak railroad cargo flooring into tables by furniture artisan Matt Hobbs of Sons of Sawdust. The firepit outside started life as a giant sorghum boiling kettle but now awaits new use as an ideal spot for s’mores. Photos by Dillmon’s close friend and well-known local photographer Kelly Moore adorn several walls and solidify the theme. The Blossom Hill logo was designed by Rome’s Seth McWhorter.
A serious commitment to food without being stuffy. The walk-up restaurant serves lunch and dinner, and protein choices lie within four main groupings. Diners can choose from pork or beef (Blossom Hill’s Texas-made smoker can cook more than 1,000 pounds of meat in just one day); custom-made, tall-stack burgers; hotdogs made in-house (inspired by an authentic German hotdog recipe); or that Southern staple, fried chicken.
“You can build your meal the way you want it and literally almost everything is homemade,” says executive chef Adam O’Hara. “Homemade pickles. Baked beans that have taken days to season just right. But the main side for great barbecue is the sauce. You won’t find a better array of made-from-scratch sauces anywhere – including vinegar and mustard-based offerings, Kansas City sweet and tangy sauce, Texas-inspired sauce with secret spices, and even local favorite Alabama white sauce originally made famous in Decatur, Ala.”
O’Hara is a Cordon Bleu-trained chef whose first restaurant job as a teenager was at a Pennsylvania-based drive-in in his home state.
Desserts designed by a Roman lured back to her hometown. Darlington graduate and award-winning pastry chef Megan Ware says Blossom Hill will respect desserts we remember from grandma’s house but she plans a modern twist on freshly made beauties such as seasonal fried pies (word is that the fried pies served on opening day may be stuffed full of local peaches), milkshakes that aren’t too thick or thin but a “just right” blend of consistencies, and her award-winning oatmeal cream pies (Ware cleaned up in Terrapin beer’s well-known “Wake ‘n Bake” competition).
Ware sees familiar faces everywhere she goes, including Honeymoon Bakery where she is also head pastry chef. “I went to UGA to learn other aspects of the food industry since I thought I might be tempted to eat too much in a daily preparation role. But one of my best childhood friends is at Honeymoon Bakery and told me about this job opportunity, so it seems my destiny to work with sweets. Thank goodnes I’ve learned that moderation is the key.”
When asked about plans to celebrate Honeymoon Bakery’s 14-year anniversary in early June, Ware smiles cryptically and says, “Wait and see. It is going to be fun.”
Fun and games outdoors, all year long. Aventine adjoins Blossom Hill BBQ via a large, well-furnished outdoor space for use by patrons of either location. Aside from the giant flat screen television under cover from the elements, there also is an outdoor bar, separate restroom and all different sizes and configurations of seating. With café lights, huge fans to cool customers in summer and quiet heaters to keep them toasty warm in winter, the outdoor space can be enjoyed year-round. Perhaps a round of cornhole after dinner and dessert will finish out a perfect evening.
COVID challenges create a bond: Dillmon, O’Hara and Ware are joined in bringing Dillmon’s Blossom Hill vision to pass by General Manager Jonathan Ipe (previously food and beverage director at Barnsley Gardens) and Sous Chef John Mark Harris, among others. Says Dillmon, “Our team became very close during COVID, because we focused every waking moment on keeping Aventine going. It was all hands on deck for take-out all night. We have been through one of the worst imaginable crisis years for our country and the restaurant business but we emerged a tightknit team with excellence as our sole goal.”
Adds Ipe: “We are almost finished hiring. Next week, we start training servers to deliver beautiful food quickly and to help our customers choose from a wide array of drinks.
Says O’Hara with a laugh: “They train to learn everything about our food and drinks menu. There are more than 50 beers for our servers to describe to diners, so training is absolutely essential.” Apparently, there is also a refreshing summer concoction called a Frosé (that’s frozen Rosé wine to you and me) that guarantees to have people surrounding the outdoor patio bar to order.
The restaurant won’t take reservations but this casual combination of great food and venue guarantees Blossom Hill BBQ will be worth the wait.
What to know:
- Address: 304 N. Fourth Ave. off West Third Street adjacent to Aventine.
- Menu: Coming soon. What to expect: Pork or beef; burgers; hotdogs made in-house; fried chicken; homemade pickles; baked beans; and custom desserts.
- Beverages: More than 50 beers and other libations.
- Hours: Posting soon with an early June opening.
- Contacts: Facebook / Website / Phone: 706-611-3901.
- Help wanted: Positions available and how to apply.