Pimiento Tea Room

Confession time: Several years ago, when a sign appeared on a property in the Holly Springs Village District announcing the future home of the Pimiento Tea Room, we stalked the place on social media and drove by regularly to check on progress. After all, it’s not every day a restaurant pops up in a 180-year-old historic house.

Although the extensive renovations took longer than expected, proprietors Matt and Christy Griffith remained consistently upbeat. At the end of 2020, the meticulous transformation was finally complete, and the Southern-inspired eatery situated in the 1840-built Brown-Holloway House opened its doors.

“The idea of a modern teahouse has been in our minds for a long time,” said Matt Griffith, a Virginia native who met his wife while the two were students at N.C. State some two decades ago. “We looked at the house back in early 2017 and knew it would be perfect for our concept.”

Christy Griffith added, “We love hosting and feeding people, and we wanted to provide a relaxed place where everyone can gather.”

Offering small plates for lunch and dinner, Sunday brunch, snacks and tea-infused libations, Pimiento Tea Room is refreshingly eclectic. The owners describe their space on social media by employing whimsical hashtags like #untraditional, #NotYourMamasTeaRoom and #MessySandwiches.

Of course, opening amid a global pandemic wasn’t exactly part of the business plan.

Boldly inventive, the Pimiento Tea Room brings new flavor to the village district in Holly Springs.

“We were at the point of no return when it came to developing and opening the restaurant, but thankfully the pandemic allowed us to grow organically,” Christy Griffith said. “We’re really grateful that the community has embraced it so far.”

It’s easy to see why people have quickly come to love the place. The charming, unpretentious interior practically woos guests to linger and unwind, especially in the bar and lounge area. Ensconced on the space’s main wall is a reclaimed, illuminated “STEAKHOUSE” sign with the first “S” and the “K” cleverly unlit so the sign now reads “_TEA_HOUSE.”

Then there’s the brass-topped bar juxtaposed by heart pine beams, the result of Matt Griffith’s painstaking removal of ceilings and walls to reveal the hidden wooden treasure.

Modern versions of chicken pot pie and tea sandwiches grace an ever-changing menu of Southern fare.

In the main dining areas, antique furnishings abound, including vintage family cookbooks.

“We bought a lot of things from thrift stores, estate sales and auctions,” Matt Griffith said.

Don’t miss the quirky wall of silhouettes near the front entrance. See if you can find Alfred Hitchcock, Homer Simpson, painter Bob Ross, and Daniel-san from the “The Karate Kid” film series.

From the bar menu to tea service to vintage decor, every element is colorful and collected with a dash of whimsy.

Perhaps what guests have embraced most, though, is the food. The menu changes frequently, so check the restaurant website for the latest offerings.

“I get bored easily, so that’s why we mix things up so often,” said Christy Griffith, who serves as primary chef.

Hailing from Maryland, she spent time in Wake Tech’s Culinary Arts program before taking a break to have children. All three are teenagers and can frequently be seen working at the restaurant.

Supper plates like pulled pork with chow chow, potato salad, dilly beans and baked beans will not disappoint.

When you visit, start your culinary adventure with some snacks like black-eyed-pea hummus, assorted pickled vegetables or – fittingly – pimiento cheese and saltine crackers. Then select a cup or bowl of vegan and gluten-free black bean soup or next-level Brunswick stew that’s so lip-smacking good you’ll want to take some home for later.

A must-try ten-layer salad features pickled red onion, tomato, Monterey jack cheese, egg, green peas, fried black-eyed peas, scallions and – get this – pimiento cheese dressing. A vegan version of the salad is available as well.

Owners Matt and Christy Griffith

Inventive tea sandwiches are served on house-made toasted olive oil bread. How about smoked catfish spread with pickled red onion, crushed kettle chips, baby greens and Texas Pete mayo? Possibly roasted sweet potato with sundried tomato goat cheese, arugula, honey and candied jalapeno? Or even cucumber with carrot, iceberg lettuce and kalamata olive mayo?

Popular scones served with flavored butters will not disappoint. Choose a flight of three butters, which include choices such as honey-scallion, sundried tomato, candied bacon, cinnamon-brown sugar, salted chocolate matcha and vegan-vanilla.

“We also have a unicorn butter, which is vanilla with sprinkles,” said Christy Griffith. “Every time I see it show up on a ticket in the kitchen, it makes me calm down and smile.”

Supper is served Tuesday through Saturday. If it’s available, order the chicken and veggie pot pie with buttermilk biscuit crumble topping and lemon-roasted green beans. If you lean vegetarian, and it’s on the menu, try the incomparable cornmeal-crusted risotto cakes crowned with curried coconut creamed collards and green chile tomato gravy.

“With the vibe we have, we decided to be bold with the menu,” said Christy Griffith. “We are excited to have so many regulars, and they seem to appreciate the constant variety.”

The drink menu is equally audacious. Nearly a dozen selections of tea drinks, from Earl Grey No. 69 to the fruity Feng Shui, deserve strong consideration. And so does Dirt, a robust, high-octane mixture of coffee and tea. Fittingly, all the specialty cocktails also include tea.

“We steep tea directly into the spirits,” Matt Griffith said. “One of the specialty cocktails is The Widow Nickels, which pays homage to Virginia Nickels, who lived in the house in the 1860s.”

Save room for dessert. Recent petit four offerings included a chai-spiced pound cake, truffle and salted brown butter Rice Krispies treat, and an Arnold Palmer white-chocolate lemon cake with sweet-tea icing.

“There truly is something for everyone,” said Christy Griffith.

The restaurant is open Tuesday through Sunday and does not accept reservations. Indoor and outdoor seating is available. Arrive early for a prime seat on the front porch.

Pimiento Tea Room
200 N. Main St., Holly Springs
(984) 225-4213

Make at Home: Candied Bacon Butter

Recipe courtesy of Pimiento Tea Room
Yields 1¼ pounds

To make candied bacon:

2 tablespoons light brown sugar
1/4 teaspoon fresh ground black pepper
1/4 teaspoon chili powder
1/2 pound thick-sliced bacon


  1. Combine sugar, pepper and chili powder in a bowl.
  2. Line a baking pan with foil and insert a wire rack coated with cooking spray.
  3. Place bacon on rack and bake at 375 F degrees for 5 minutes.
  4. Remove and sprinkle with sugar mixture.
  5. Bake for another 5-10 minutes or until cooked. Sugared bacon will harden as it cools.

To make butter:

1 pound unsalted butter, at room temperature
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1 3/4 ounces light brown sugar
1 ½ ounces honey
1 3/4 ounces candied bacon, chopped


  1. Beat butter in a stand mixer with salt and sugar until fluffy.
  2. Add in honey and bacon until well combined.

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