There’s a new bar coming to downtown Elon, albeit with a much different flair than West End Terrace or Taphouse.
The Oak House, a coffee, wine and craft beer lounge, is slated to take the space on North Williamson Avenue that originally housed Town Table. Phil Smith, the interim director of domestic programs at Elon University and a co-owner of The Oak House, said the idea came to him when he started teaching “Life Entrepreneurship.”
“We had to do some work around what we might do if we could do anything we wanted to in life, regardless of income and paying bills. I drew this place,” Smith said.
That was five years ago, and Smith has slowly been working on the plan since. The closing of Town Table spurred him into action, thanks to some help from the “Life Entrepreneurship” class and alumnus Ryan Vet, the co-owner of The Oak House.
“During halftime one basketball game this winter, we were chatting about some projects I was working on when Phil alluded to the idea of The Oak House,” Vet said. “We met up after the game, headed to Pandora’s Pies, and Phil began sketching out his vision on a napkin.”
Smith described the Oak House as “part bar, part coffeehouse and designed to be a place for Elon students, staff, faculty and others to gather and enjoy each other’s company and a quality beverage and snack.”
Sophomore Alex Day said The Oak House will be a good fit for campus.
“Having more of an up-scale option is not for everyone, but The Oak House will be very popular amongst students looking for great coffee, and professors looking for a few drinks at the end of the day,” he said.
Smith said he hopes The Oak House will support the education mission of the university and the recent intention to extend intellectual dialogue.
“There’s not a place to go sit in a climate where you can have faculty sitting and chatting with students about their thesis over a nice beverage,” he said. “Or a place where students of mixed-ages can go and students who don’t drink or can’t legally drink alcohol have plenty of other options.”
The bar’s structure will remain similar to Town Table — a bar side to the right and a lounge to the left. The lounge will feature a small stage for student performers. In addition to the coffee, beer and wine, The Oak House will also serve specialty sodas and light-menu food items.
While The Root, Pandora’s and West End all remain thriving, Town Table and Taphouse recently struggled in the summer months, when the businesses have to rely on the greater Burlington community to stay open.
“It should make anybody nervous from an observation and business standpoint,” Smith said. “One way to look at it is there’s got to be a combination out there somewhere for the atmosphere, products and service you provide would keep enough people engaged to make the business to work.”
Smith said The Oak House will try to capitalize on university events that pull in members from the surrounding area, like shows in McCrary Theatre and athletic events.
“The Oak House will be a great fit for Elon by providing an environment for everyone from students and staff to family and friends,” Vet said. “Whether you’re starting your day with gourmet, micro-roasted coffee, relaxing in the afternoon with a fine wine or hanging out with friends in the evening,”
On May 6 Smith and Vet signed the lease for The Oak House. It is scheduled to open in August.