At our inception 20 years ago, we chose to be different. Unlike other news organizations, we made the decision to provide in-depth, regional reporting free to anyone who wanted access to it. We don’t plan to change that model. Support from our readers will help us maintain and strengthen the editorial independence that is crucial to our mission to help make Western North Carolina a better place to call home. If you are able, please support The Smoky Mountain News.

The Smoky Mountain News is a wholly private corporation. Reader contributions support the journalistic mission of SMN to remain independent. Your support of SMN does not constitute a charitable donation. If you have a question about contributing to SMN, please contact us.

New restaurant hopes to bring foot traffic back to downtown Canton

fr imperialBy Katie Reeder • SMN Intern 

A great restaurant at a great location in a great town — it’s all part of The Imperial’s appeal, according to the restaurant’s assistant manager Monte Bumberknick.

Housed at 117 Main St. in downtown Canton, The Imperial opened its doors June 1, but the grand opening will be June 6. Dinner will be served at 5 p.m., and those in attendance can enjoy bluegrass music, corn hole and an outdoor bar. 

“We’re going to have a little bit of a party out there — get people noticing that we’re open and we’re here,” Bumberknick said.  

Bumberknick worked at Sid’s on Main, the restaurant that previously occupied the building. He said when Sid’s closed he got a call from the group managing The Imperial, asking him to come on board with the new restaurant, and he was happy to make the transition, as he had grown to love working with the Canton community.

“It’s a close-knit town,” he said. “You’re selling out high school sporting events, and this [restaurant] is what we need.”

The menu, which Bumberknick described as similar to something one would find in Charleston, has traditional dishes like shrimp and grits, crab cakes and meatloaf, but it also includes more eccentric creations such as grit fries — deep-fried grits with pimento cheese inside. 

“I don’t think we have anything that’s very uncommon,” said Morgan Crisp, co-owner of The Imperial. “But I think our food is going to be cooked well, and it’s fresh.” 

Bumberknick said the restaurant’s opening could be the spark Canton’s downtown needs to become the bridge between the tourist destinations of Waynesville and Asheville. 

“By us being open and having the excitement going on outside, you know, potential businesses owners are going to see that and hopefully move into Canton and bring foot traffic walking down Main Street again,” he said.  

He emphasized the goal for the restaurant to still be a place for locals and meet their needs. 

“If there’s a need to stay open for sporting events and games after local high school football and stuff like that, we’re going to be open,” he said. 

Open seven days a week from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. for lunch and 5 to 9 p.m. for dinner, The Imperial will serve as a place to host special events, eat Sunday brunch or have a family dinner, Crisp said. She said there are also plans in the works to bring back the hotel. 

For more information, follow The Imperial at www.facebook.com/imperialofcanton

Go to top