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Southern Craft comes to Watauga Lake

By Teresa Crowder
Freelance Writer

Southern Craft Barbecue is well known in our region for its fantastic fare and relaxing atmosphere. Locals in Johnson County will soon be tempted as another Southern Craft Barbecue makes its home at Watauga Lake in the old Captain’s Table restaurant at the end of May.
Owner Rafael Zabala is quite acquainted with this area as he was a 1997 graduate of Johnson County High School.
Zabala began working in the restaurant business in high school when the Shounil Restaurant was open in the now Rush Oil location on J. Shoun Road.
Later, Zabala went to Knoxville to college and became friends with the original owner of the Stir Fry Restaurants, Kenny Siao. It led to a lasting partnership until Siao’s death 18 years ago.
RMM Hospitality was formed during that partnership, including Mark Rowan, Martin Bagwell, and Zabala. RMM Hospitality has been active in the Tri-Cities region since 2004. They have been part of revitalization projects locally while employing well over 200 people in the industry of hospitality.
Zabala is now working on renovating the inside of the building, upgrading booth seating, bathrooms, and fresh paint inside and out.
The menu selection will vary some from the
other locations as steak
and seafood will be added
to the offerings at the Watauga Lake location. The exterior will also change to promote the Southen Craft brand. Zabala anticipates being open year-round
and has had a good response thus far in recruiting employees.
The Southern Craft
Barbecue Restaurant installation at Watauga Lake has been a dream for Zabala considering its ties to his hometown and the beautiful views.
“I have been passing by this location all my life and always said if it becomes available, I want to put a restaurant there,” says Zabala.
Southern Craft Barbecue is actively hiring for
all positions. Those
interested should email their resume to [email protected] or stop by the restaurant. Opening day is slated for some time at the end of May.