“I cannot rest from travel: I will drink life to the lees.” This line from Lord Alfred Tennyson’s poem Ulysses were words that stuck with Gary Long far beyond college where he first read it.
Long is the owner of Lees at the Depot, located in downtown Dillsboro.
Lees are the sentiments left over from the fermentation process and found in wine.
“The quote seemed appropriate because wine is our thing. Being by the railroad tracks, the travel part fits perfectly,” Long said.
Long negotiated a lease contract with the Great Smoky Mountains Railroad, which owns the building. GSMR used it as its depot when the railroad was headquartered in Dillsboro.
Long took possession of the building in February. After extensive renovation, Lees at the Depot opened in August, 2016.
With a focus on an extensive wine list and fresh, creative food offerings, Lees at the Depot is gaining popularity among locals and visitors alike.
An extensive wine rack, a display of house-made desserts and catchy eclectic music greets customers as they walk in. A creekside patio offers patrons a relaxing atmosphere to sit back and enjoy a meal while watching the bustle in downtown Dillsboro.
“It’s kind of like Sunday suppers. It’s what you’d expect at Mama’s after church, and so much more,” manager Caroline Martin said of the restaurant.
“Everything is fresh. We don’t have a fryer, and you won’t find burgers and fries on the menu. But we try to offer a little something for everyone,” Martin said.
Some of the more popular items on the menu are the tacos, oversized baked potatoes, and house-made pimento cheese spread sandwich topping, Martin said.
“People have said it’s the perfect addition. They say it’s very laid back and comfortable, and they like that it is not a sports bar,” Martin said.
As the business continues to grow, Long and Martin said it will evolve to meet the desires of the customers. Future plans include live sets of acoustic music, featuring string and wind instruments, as well as possible adaptations for longer hours.
Lees at the Depot is located at 42 Depot St. in Dillsboro. Hours of operation are Tuesday through Saturday, 11:30 a.m. to 9 p.m. and Sunday 12 to 7 p.m.
For a menu and information on special events, find and Like Lees at the Depot on Facebook, visit www.leeswine.com, or call the restaurant at 828-339-1700.