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NOLI opening restaurant in downtown Erwin

By Richard Rourk

Jason Howze, left, and Jordon Haun recently announced that their food truck NOLI will open a storefront in downtown Erwin in spring 2019. The restaurant will be located at 105 S. Main Ave. (Erwin Record Staff Photo by Richard Rourk)

Business in downtown Erwin continues to grow. A new business with a familiar name is set to join the growing list of establishments in the spring of 2019.

NOLI is coming to 105 S. Main Ave. in Erwin. Business partners Jason Howze and Jordon Haun picked Erwin over other cities to expand their business. They were offered locations in Johnson City, but chose to stay close to their roots. Both men grew up in Unicoi County.

The building, which is 4,572 square feet, will house NOLI downstairs and will host newly remodeled apartments upstairs. The walls are made from original brick from when the building was erected back in 1904. The patio area has ceiling fans with iron tables and chairs. There is a clear garage door that will open up to the patio from the restaurant. Along the garage door there will be stools facing out to the patio and the view of downtown Erwin.

According to Howze and Haun, the restaurant will feature a full-length bar with beer options on opening day. Due to state laws, they must wait at least 30 days before being able to serve liquor.  The plan is to have a full-service bar after that period is over.

“We plan on pairing cocktails to match our unique menu,” Haun said.

The menu will have NOLI classics, but will be expanded. Howze has the menu in mind, but did not want to share it just yet. Keeping with the mystique of NOLI, once the building is complete, everything will be blacked out until opening day.

Currently, NOLI operates out of their food truck. NOLI was a pioneer in the recent food truck boom and continues to draw a crowd everywhere they go.

“We were the original in Johnson City, now there are 30 plus food trucks,” Howze told The Erwin Record.

NOLI, which is a nod to the Nolichucky River, started out in the food truck business back in 2014. The men decided to expand the business to a storefront after a brief discussion.

“We had a few drinks and decided it was time to expand,” Howze said with a laugh.

The two decided they wanted to open a brick and mortar restaurant in the developing downtown area.

“I saw the space here and thought I’d love to open up there,” Haun told The Erwin Record.

For those concerned about the NOLI truck going away, it’s not.

“The truck is going to be our lifeline, we plan on getting back into catering as well,” Howze said.

The two owners are excited to join the growing downtown of Erwin.

“If we can do half for Erwin that we did for Johnson City, then I will be flying high,” Howze told The Erwin Record.

On taking the gamble of opening a new business, the men are unfazed.

“Some say it’s crazy to open a restaurant in Erwin, but they also said it was crazy to open a food truck in Johnson City, and that worked out just fine,” Haun said.

The entrepreneurs go a step further when discussing the advantages of setting up in Erwin.

“Here in Erwin, we are built off of tourism, and if you can’t make it with the interstate close by, the Nolichucky River and the Appalachian Trail then you can’t make it at all.,” Howze exclaimed.

To keep up with the whereabouts of the NOLI Food Truck and updates to the new space in Erwin, check out their Facebook and Instagram pages. Be sure to check out their Instagram stories to stay up to date.

Howze and Haun also wanted to thank everybody in Erwin for being so welcoming and helping out.