Former Carolina Mudcats Owner May Open New Restaurant In Smithfield

Former Carolina Mudcats owner Steve Bryant received permission from the Smithfield Town Council on Tuesday to rezone a home at 216 S. Third Street for use as a restaurant. Bryant said a new fine dining restaurant could open at the historic home by the end of 2018. Photo

Steve Bryant the former majority owner and President of the Carolina Mudcats is considering opening up a new restaurant in Downtown Smithfield. Bryant sold his interest in the minor league team at the end of the 2017 season.

Bryant had also operated Cattails Restaurant, a fine dining venue, at the Zebulon-area stadium.

On Tuesday, a divided Smithfield Town Council voted to approve a rezoning request from Mr. Bryant to allow for a restaurant to operate out of a historic home at 216 S. Third Street.

“The first hurdle was to get the zoning okayed,” Bryant told WTSB News.  “Now we can begin exploring the viability of the structure, which was built in 1905, to figure out what it may need to make it potentially a restaurant location.”

Councilman David Barbour was the only board member to vote against the needed rezoning, which passed 6-to-1.

Bryant said his is optimistic the home can be converted into a fine dining restaurant.  “Until the town changed the zoning it was a moot point.”

“A lot of work has to be done. There are a lot of question marks about a building that old and what will have to be done,” Bryant said by telephone.

Bryant, who lives in Four Oaks, says he wants to maintain the historic value and appearance of the home while preserving its history.  “My goal is to have something that people will want to visit Smithfield for and be impressed with and get this town growing.”

Barring any major problems, Bryant said the restaurant could be operational by the end of 2018.

Sarah Edwards, Executive Director of the Downtown Smithfield Development Corporation, hopes the restaurant becomes a reality.  “Downtown Smithfield is a destination for dining.  We currently have 13 places to eat and drink downtown, which offers a great variety to Smithfield and Johnston County residents, as well as visitors from other counties, states, and countries.  The Downtown Smithfield Development Corporation is proud to support Mr. Bryant’s endeavor to open a restaurant that we believe will be complimentary to our current businesses in Downtown Smithfield.”

According to Johnston County tax records the home, located at the corner of S. Third and Church Streets, is situated on a 0.51 acre lot and is 3,956 square feet in size.  Tax records show the current owner is Bobby and Anne Eason. The home has a tax value of $299,860. The property had been listed for sale recently for $249,000 but an online search shows the home is now under contract.