For this week's edition of our interview series, we talked to Emma Cole, general manager at The RailYard in Bluefield, West Virginia, about how the restaurant and bar got its start, how they're managing with COVID-19 restrictions, and what their best-sellers are.

How and when did your business get started?

Enjoy a Drink

"The RailYard opened in 2014. The owner, Tom Cole, opened The RailYard so there would be somewhere for people to enjoy a drink, some food, and live music."

What inspired The Railyard’s theme and culture?

Bar

"At the time, there wasn’t anywhere else to go in Bluefield, WV to have a nice dinner or get a drink with friends. The RailYard was opened to help bring more to our area."

What was the process in choosing your menu items? And which item would you recommend to new customers?

Meal

"Our ideas and thoughts for The RailYard are constantly evolving. The RailYard began as more of a bar with some food however, I like to now consider us a restaurant with a full bar. Our number one seller, with no surprise, is our burgers! They are a must-try when coming to The RailYard. As well as a staple, The Chicken Waffle Nachos."

What advice would you give anyone interested in opening a restaurant?

Drinks

"Don’t be afraid of change!! The restaurant industry is constantly changing, and you have to be able to adapt to get ready for your next move. Also, not letting your bad or good days get the best of you. Some days will be bad, and others will be great, but you have to just keep looking for that next day."

How has COVID-19 impacted the way you conduct your business? What changes has it forced you to make? And how has it affected sales?

Curbside Pickup

"COVID-19 has changed the way we do a lot around the restaurant. We have implemented a lot more sanitization around the restaurant as well as extra staff members to help keep employees and guests safe. All our staff members are required to wear their masks at all times. We have also installed glass barriers between each booth to help with social distancing.

"Thankfully when we were forced to close, we were able to grow our to-go business by offering curbside and delivery. This helped us when we reopened by gaining those guests who tried us when everyone was closed.

The biggest hurt for us has come from not being able to utilize The Clover Club due to the lack of parties this year."

What can those of us in the foodservice industry and the general public do to help?

"The biggest help that has come from others is simple: patience and understanding. We are all figuring out this year as the days go by. We ask that others are patient with their waitstaff and foodservice friends at all restaurants you go to."

Is there a particular piece of kitchen equipment that you feel you can’t live without? And what kitchen equipment piece and brand would you recommend to others?

Burgers

"Couldn’t live without our Pro-Series Toastmaster char-grill, supplied by Douglas. It’s what helps set up our proteins, burgers, and steaks with their distinctive flavor. Would definitely recommend to any high-volume establishment."

If there is anything else you would like to share with us and our audience, please tell us.

Dessert

"The RailYard is constantly striving to make your dining (or to-go) experience the best in town! We are incredibly thankful for all the support the community has shown us through COVID-19. We are excited for the holiday season and the beginning of a new year!"

We can not brag on their food enough! This restaurant is also local to our home state and one we have tried many times. Great food, drinks, entertainment, and service! If you're ever in the area, you can swing by to try it for yourself at 530 Raleigh St, Bluefield, West Virginia 24701.