1906 Bistro and Bourbons set to open in historic downtown

Published 5:30 pm Friday, June 30, 2023

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For the Washington Daily News

Local residents are no stranger to the flurry of activity that has surrounded the corner of Market and Main Street over the last six months. In two weeks, a new restaurant and bar named 1906 Bistro and Bourbons will open. Katherine and Warren Allen, the owners, have been working tirelessly alongside their general manager, Chris Ramirez, and general contractor, Tony Allen, to bring their vision to life.


Initially, the plan was to rent the newly renovated space to another business, but finding a suitable fit proved more challenging than anticipated. It became clear that implementing their own vision would allow for a quicker execution and a mid-summer opening.


“We had prepared the bar for someone to rent it,” explained Warren. “We had kitchen walls in place, and we knew we needed to build two handicap bathrooms, among other things.”


During a trip to Utah earlier this year, the couple decided that they would undertake the project themselves, contingent on finding the right team. Upon returning from Utah, Katherine and Warren created an online job listing searching for a general manager they could trust to take the reins. Ramirez, who had relocated to New Bern from Texas, was the obvious choice.


“He has a lot of experience in restaurant and bar management, whether from the opening side or the recovery side,” said Katherine. “When something falls in your lap like that, you chalk it up to a God thing or a faith thing, and you say, ‘This is meant to be, let’s go!’”


The decision to open the bistro themselves has allowed them to bring their personal vision to life in the space and will enable them to retain control when their short-term rentals open upstairs later this year. 


The attention to detail is evident from the barrel lattice work and the inspired lights made from barrel metal. Many elements of the space were crafted from materials repurposed during the building renovation, such as the bar back made from joists cut during the elevator addition earlier this year.


“Anything that we demoed out, we saved and brought to the Washington Woodworking Company to make all of the tables,” shared Warren. “All of the baseboards that were upstairs, things that were a little too far gone that we wouldn’t be able to get right for trim work again, we saved and used to build a shiplap wall.”


Katherine and Warren’s vision for 1906 stems from a desire to enhance the offerings in the Historic Downtown. As regular patrons of local establishments, they wanted to create a welcoming space where residents and tourists could enjoy their favorite bourbon or beer, whether they were coming off the river or stopping for a pre-dinner cocktail.


“I really want it to be a space that anyone from town can stop and have a drink,” shared Katherine. 


The bistro’s food menu will start with a simple selection of toasted sandwiches and melts, including a grilled cheese and a club sandwich, served with chips.


“One of the things people come to Washington for is community and to spend time with family members,” added Katherine. “This is a nice space for people to come to spend time with each other, whether they are locals or visitors.”


The couple drew their inspiration from their frequent drives to Indiana to visit Katherine’s family, where they often make stops at bourbon distilleries in Kentucky. Immersed in the culture, history, and art of bourbon, these visits have sparked their interest in the spirit. The experiences they’ve had at those distilleries have served as a seed for their vision of creating an atmosphere and service that mirrors the offerings of those places. 


With their new venture, Katherine and Warren aim to share their passion and provide a memorable experience for all who walk through their doors.