Photos by Derek Bell

Settle into a booth; your server will be right with you. In that 45-second wait (because timing is everything), take a moment to think of all the efforts that have and are about to contribute to your dining experience. From the front-door greeting to the clean stack of plates on the kitchen shelf, the men and women of the food service industry are on their feet from clock-in to clock-out, making sure each dining experience surpasses the last, and guests (that’s you) leave with full stomachs and
wide smiles. 

But this job isn’t for everyone. There is so much more to a food service employee than pleasant people skills and good balance; they are incessant salespeople, consistent customer service reps., team members, mediators, multi-taskers, order-takers, laborers and constant late-nighters. The work can be back breaking, the hours long and the tips small, but they keep going with a steady smile on their face, an ache in their feet and weeds up to their eyelids (if it’s not clear what weeds are, ask a server). 

While all may not be able to walk a mile in those slip-resistant shoes; V3 Magazine’s annual Taste and Toast Awards offer the chance to show some love and appreciation for the hard-working men and women behind the skillfully served plates and pints. So, bartenders, servers, chefs and hosts, take a bow. And then take a seat; you’ve earned it. 

This year, the voters have raised their voices in “Best Overall” praise for Rome’s own Harvest Moon Café (234 Broad St., Rome), which has taken the cake and run down the street with it for the third year in a row.

This year, the voters have raised their voices in “Best Overall” praise for Rome’s own Harvest Moon Café (234 Broad St., Rome), which has taken the cake and run down the street with it for the third year in a row.

 Over the years, Broad St. has been known to provide a fairly tough crowd for businesses; they are either loved or they leave. The Moon has not only displayed a strong staying power in its current location, but since 2001 has taken a funky yet refined Southern-style and built a lunar empire. The month of October unveiled the debut of two new additions for this esteemed and eclectic eatery. 

At 236 Broad St., just next door, The Dark Side of the Moon combines urban and industrial elegance in an after-hours bar room, one that owner Ginny Kibler says she’s always wanted to create. “We haven’t really ever had a full-fledged bar that can have separate hours and live music; it’s hard to interrupt the restaurant hours,” she explains. The Moon’s new after-hours addition debuted on Oct. 31 with Holler-Ween, The Dark Side’s Halloween bash with live music by local band The Holler. 

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Hours for The Dark Side extend through the Moon’s dinner shift and then beyond for late-night entertainment; however, lovers of the Moon Roof Bar should fret not. While the Moon Roof maintains an intimate seasonal bar and venue, The Dark Side simply adds a new element to Harvest Moon’s live
entertainment offerings.    

Inside The Dark Side’s walls, silver corrugated metal intersects the exposed 1895 brick with accents of industrial style aluminum and glass lighting. Custom-crafted, hinged barstools swing out to greet bar flies and the menu introduces light tapas delights. 

“We’ve wanted to do tapas for a long time,” Kibler says. “It was hard to make that big of a [menu] change, but now that we have that new space, we can.”

Among the new tapas dishes is a charcuterie plate featuring homemade sausage and prosciutto as well as the fresh-baked breads crafted by the Moon since 1998. 

The Dark Side’s wooden bar top, which is as old as the building it now resides in, extends out to the large open-face entrance off the patio; even at the bar, you’re breathing the fresh outside air. Kibler says that the Moon is happy to finally have the capacity to expand their drink menu. Taking their list of craft products beyond the bread, The Dark Side carries 12 different craft beers on tap. And now that limited space has been eliminated, Dark Siders may even find a game of cornhole going on in the back. 

The depths of The Dark Side reveal the Moon’s second venue addition, New Moon. This space serves as an event venue for catering, receptions, showers, beer/wine dinners and the Moon’s Sunday brunch. 

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“New Moon can be rented out or we also book our own events here, so it’s great overflow for the restaurant,” Kibler says. 

Warm rustic woods, exposed brick, and large wood-framed lanterns line the walls of New Moon with white-clothed tables dotting the floor. Kibler kept the décor and design of the new space neutral for event versatility, adding just a bit of color splash with a few local art pieces from Studio Siri and Blacktop Folk Art.

“In the last two or three years, our catering business has grown by about 50 percent,” Kibler says, and it’s because of that growth that the Moon decided to finally create their own event space. “This is our caterer’s dream,” she laughs.

Kibler displays a humble smile when her lunar creation is referred to as an empire; she attributes any and all successes to amazing patrons, an incredible staff and the rock-solid support of her husband, Doc. “We’ve been fortunate; we really have,” she says. “We’ve got an unbelievable, loyal crowd and great employees.” 

So here’s a toast to another year of successful “Mooning,” and to the ladies and gents that keep the food service industry afloat.

Harvest Moon Café is located at 234 Broad Street, Rome, Georgia.