Blue Ridge Country - September/October 2019 - 34

LEFT: John Dillard, Jr., shows off the farmto-table dinner feast at the Dillard House
Restaurant.
ABOVE: Lexie Parker, left, and John Tennis,
right, ride horses through the Little Tennessee
River at the Dillard House Stables.

GEORGIA

FARM & STAY: Dillard House, Dillard,

features 96 rooms; Julep Farms, Dillard,
706-960-9600, contains four cottages.

DO: Farm zoo, swimming, horseback riding

at Dillard House.

EATS: Dillard House Restaurant, Dillard;
Clayton Cafe, 706-212-2233, or Grapes &
Beans, 706-212-0020, both in Clayton.

34

BLUERIDGECOUNTRY.COM

R

ick Weaver opened the door
to the under-construction "Julep Social House" like he was
showing off a future palace.
Weaver grew up in New Orleans and
most recently operated a restaurant in
Locust Grove, Georgia. But then he discovered the scenic mountains of Dillard,
Georgia, and learned the history of the
Dillard family. That's when Weaver found
a respect for Rabun County's rank as Georgia's official "Farm-to-Table Capital."
"The Dillards have done a lot," Weaver
says.
And the influence of the century-old
Dillard House Restaurant (800-541-0871)
has inspired eateries to source local food
in nearby Clayton at sites like Grapes &
Beans and the Clayton Café.
To short-story-it-up, all this is why
Weaver, 48, and his wife, Lauren, wanted
to open a new restaurant on a 22-acre farm
at Dillard-a site outlined by white fences
and dotted with a newly-built barn, four
cottages, a field of flowers, some baby-doll
sheep and a few chickens.
"Everybody likes a farm, but not everybody likes to get chicken poop on
them," Weaver says. "Our whole concept
is just that refined, upscale, kind of modern farm."

Weaver dubs his newly purchased plot
"Julep Farms," paying tribute to mint juleps and the "regal" farms of Kentucky.
The land at Julep Farms (706-9609600) actually once belonged to the Dillard family, which set the standard-and,
certainly, the family-style table-for farmto-fork forays across Rabun County, starting in 1917 when the family matriarch,
Carrie Edwards Dillard, founded the Dillard House Restaurant by serving her own
meats and cheeses.
"We were probably the first in the
state, because my great-grandmother had
her own farm," says one of Dillard's descendants, 50-year-old John Dillard, Jr.,
the operations manager of the Dillard
House.
"And family style is the true farmto-table," Dillard says, "because people
would take all the stuff they're growing
and put it on the table."
Today, the Dillard House features luxurious hotel rooms, a conference center,
swimming pools, horse pen and a farm
zoo with goats.
You can also take a guided horseback
ride into the Little Tennessee River-a
journey that proves popular during fall
months when leaves turn "a color in between orange and red," says 25-year-old
Lexie Parker, a horse-trail guide. "And a lot
of them are like the yellowy-green color.
They're really pretty."
Year-round, in the Dillard dining
room, you'll find generations coming for
the main attraction: an all-you-can-eat,
fantastic feast featuring plates and bowls
of squash souffle, corn-on-the-cob, fried
chicken, cornbread, country ham, redeye gravy, broccoli casserole, calico salad,
peas, stuffed peppers, green tomatoes, au
gratin potatoes and country-style steak.
"And the cabbage casserole, of course,
is our signature dish," says John's sister,
Natalie Dillard, 44. "If we don't have
that on the menu all the time, there is
a revolt."
The Dillards grow their own blueberries and maintain a pork processing plant.
"We cure our own ham here," John Dillard says.
Still, while they serve locally sourced
food, they have sold off much of their
farmland. "We got so big so fast," John
Dillard says. "Trying to farm and do a resort became too much."


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Blue Ridge Country - September/October 2019

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of Blue Ridge Country - September/October 2019

Blue Ridge Country - September/October 2019 - Intro
Blue Ridge Country - September/October 2019 - Cover1
Blue Ridge Country - September/October 2019 - Cover2
Blue Ridge Country - September/October 2019 - 3
Blue Ridge Country - September/October 2019 - 4
Blue Ridge Country - September/October 2019 - 5
Blue Ridge Country - September/October 2019 - 6
Blue Ridge Country - September/October 2019 - 7
Blue Ridge Country - September/October 2019 - 8
Blue Ridge Country - September/October 2019 - 9
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Blue Ridge Country - September/October 2019 - Cover3
Blue Ridge Country - September/October 2019 - Cover4
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