Heirloom is a restaurant that has had two distinct iterations. To understand its most current, meet the Murphy family. There’s Patrick, the chef; Megan, the interior designer; Ryan, the horticulturalist; and Linda and Scott, the parents and investors. It is, by pure accident and genetic happenstance, a farm-to-table dream team packaged into a nuclear family. The Murphys purchased Heirloom, one of the best restaurants in Belmont NC, and worked alongside original owner Clark Barlowe to navigate through the business’ transition.
Clark Barlowe is a seventh-generation North Carolinian. He divides his time between the woods, where he forages for edible plants, mushrooms, and more, and the kitchen, where he transforms those collected treasures into delectable dishes. Earlier in his culinary career, he worked for some of the best restaurants in the country and competed on Chopped. He then started the endeavor that would cement his status as a household name in Charlotte: Heirloom, a farm-to-table restaurant. Barlowe decided to sell Heirloom in 2019 so that he could move across the country with his partner in pursuit of a different dream.
The Murphy’s Take the Helm of One of the Best Restaurants in Belmont NC: Heirloom
A few months into ownership, the Murphy family felt as though they had hit their stride, but then catastrophe struck. The Murphys purchased Heirloom in December 2019. Within just a few months, the COVID-19 pandemic would be in full swing, and restaurants would be required to close their doors to all dine-in customers. For a while, the family was able to pivot. Parent/investor Scott and son/chef Patrick redesigned the menu and operation to more efficiently serve takeout customers, but it wasn’t sustainable. Ultimately, the team decided to shut down the restaurant. They grappled with whether to do so permanently or to find a way to weather the viral storm, finally deciding to say goodbye to the Heirloom they had known in west Charlotte and open a new location in Belmont.
Now, as 2022 slides into its third season, Heirloom is once again thriving, bouncing back like a perennial in springtime. Daughter/designer Megan brought the interior of the new restaurant space to life. Son/horticulturalist Ryan revamped the Belmont Community Gardens and regularly harvests his crops for use at the restaurant. Son/chef Patrick is splitting time between Heirloom and the family’s second Belmont restaurant, Honeycomb Cafe.
Today and Tomorrow
Patrick’s menus at Heirloom are designed to highlight local farms and seasonal flavors. Summer favorites included the watermelon salad featuring puffed farro and whipped ricotta, seasoned with herbs, balsamic, and olive oil. Another favorite is the spiced vegetable steak served with cashew cream, herb salad, chili oil, and chili threads, and the bone-in dry aged tajin pork chop plated with NC corn, cotija cheese, crispy okra, and peach chutney. The cocktail menu includes year-round classics like old fashioneds and margaritas, but still leaves space for seasonal play. Take, for example, the peach party: a prosecco float flavored with Kettle One peach & orange blossom, Cointreau, and lemon.
Looking ahead, there’s potential for one of the best restaurants in Belmont NC to become a true heirloom. But at the end of the day, what is likely to be the most effective harbinger of continued success is nothing quite so tangible as profits and losses. “We try to connect as a family unit away from the restaurants when we can,” says Linda Murphy. “I keep a pulse on making sure we remember we are family first, business second.”