Downtown Laurinburg diners are expected to get a new option for breakfast and lunch.
Laurinburg native Blair Locklear plans to open a restaurant in the Gill House on Cronly Street. The former restaurant closed in Februrary.
A new restaurant — Sweet Expressions — will open in January and be owned and operated by husband and wife team Blair and Tony Locklear.
The Locklears say that the name Sweet Expressions, which currently operates in Pembroke, is something of a misnomer.
“We started out as a bakery, but we’re pretty much a full-scale restaurant now,” said Blair Locklear. The Pembroke restaurant opened in February 2010.
A native of Laurinburg who has lived in Robeson County for the last decade, she wanted to move her successful business back home.
“We’re actually going to close in Pembroke for now and focus on Laurinburg,” Locklear said. “We’ll see how things go and then look at reopening in Pembroke. We have a lot of business from the university; they’re very sad to see us go.”
When it opens, the restaurant will serve breakfast and lunch, with the possibility of offering dinner in the cards. Locklear hopes to open the new Sweet Expressions on Jan. 7.
“We have a lot of healthy options: we do quite a few different salads, we do deli sandwiches, we do soup and lots and lots of sweets,” said Locklear. “We have something for everybody.”
Sweet Expressions’ selection of treats includes seasonal cakes, cheesecakes, bread pudding, apple pie, brownies, and cupcakes, with meal offerings from potato soup and BLTs to more eclectic dishes like chicken garam masala.
The restaurant will open around 7 a.m. on weekdays and 10 a.m. on Saturdays, closing on Sunday. At lunch, a meal of a sandwich, sides, and drink will cost customers less than $9.
Locklear hopes to employ four or five people, some of whom already work at the Pembroke location.
“We do have some of our staff from Pembroke coming with us, but we’re staring to line up some staff from Laurinburg,” said Locklear.
Sweet Expressions already caters to Laurinburg clientele with its designer cakes and wedding cakes as well as lunch and dinner on weekends. With the bakery added to a menu of meals, Locklear believes that her restaurant can rise above the depressed local economy.
“For any business owner, the economy’s already a huge worry, but we offer something that you really don’t get anywhere else, and I think the reception in Laurinburg will be just as good as it is in Pembroke,” she said. “I think people will really enjoy it. The Gill House has a wonderful atmosphere, and that really makes the dining experience.”
Best known for being the birthplace of state treasurer Edwin Gill, the house was given to the county Historic Properties Commission in 1977. It was built in 1884.