Craig Szymanski was raised just outside of The Big Apple. As a teenager in the 1980s he started washing dishes and prepping ingredients at city eateries, gradually working his way up to becoming a chef of his own. As expected, those decades-old metropolitan restaurants were tight ships that expected quality and respect to what not only what was being served, but also who was serving it.
“I learned so much from growing up in New York, where we’d go right into the city and experience some of the greatest food you’ll ever eat, everything from Italian or Chinese — you soak in all of this culture and tradition.”
From New York, Szymanski headed for culinary work in California, working and honing his kitchen craft in authentic Mexican and Asian restaurants for the better part of 20 years.
In December 2018, Szymanski and his family had decided to relocate to Western North Carolina for an opportunity to become the chef at Balsam Falls Brewing when its kitchen opened in August 2019. This then led to the vision Rivers & Rails that has now come to fruition.
“We want to fill those holes in our culinary scene with these great dishes that are all influenced by my travels in working in the food industry for most of my life. I’ve taken my career in New York and California restaurants, and my travels around Italy and Europe, and applied it to what we want to do in Dillsboro. We want to offer these dishes you can’t find anywhere. There’s so much room for growth in the food scene here, this growth you really can’t find anywhere else — we love it here.” -Craig Szymanski, Owner & Chef
Attention to detail and keen awareness of reputation being attached to every single plate that leaves his kitchen comes from Szymanski’s upbringing in New York, specifically Rockland County. That's why everything at River and Rails Tavern is prepared fresh, even the dressings and sauces.
We also strive to make the tavern feel like a home away from home which is why we have have many fun events and activities coming up that we cant' wait to share with you!