The food & beer at Milltown, which opened in 2006, is inventive and interesting. Not that it's fancy, mind you. The menu's eclectic offerings might best be described as contemporary American pub meets traditional French bistro.
The name "Milltown" refers to Carrboro's history as a textile mill town, and the mill that gave the town its life still sits across the tracks, two blocks from the restaurant. When established in 2006, Milltown preserved the retro character our 1950s era building by incorporating antique beer signs, porcelain Art Deco soda fountain stools, and a 1930s vintage mahogany bar from the Midwest (at which Al Capone is rumored to have tipped a few).
Beer is the focus, and Milltown wouldn't have existed without the NC beer law change in 2005 through the Pop the Cap organization. For 70 years, North Carolina had a cap of 6% alcohol by volume on beer, a restriction held by only four other states. On August 13, 2005, Governor Mike Easley signed House Bill 392 into law, lifting the cap to 15%, which allowed the state to begin enjoying the brewing history of Belgium's more than 180 breweries, some of which started brewing in the 12th century. Being able to showcase this rich history is a cornerstone of Milltown.
Milltown is owned by brothers Josh and Drew Wittman, whose parents traveled to many parts of the world through the Peace Corps as volunteers, academic studies as teachers and a desire for adventures abroad. The family valued the cultural exchange made possible through travel. Childhood trips helped to shape the food experiences for Josh and Drew by allowing them to taste a variety of cuisines, visit the local markets, and share their interpretations of the dishes with family and friends.
Chad Hardin began his culinary journey early. Having a grandmother who was in the food industry, and a grandfather who spent countless hours in the garden, he understood early the power of a well-cooked meal and the fellowship that goes along with it. He has always kept this understanding as the base of his love for preparing good food for the community he calls home.
In 2005, the journey took him to Hyde Park, NY, where he graduated with honors with an A.O.S. (associate's in occupational studies) from the Culinary Institute of America. As part of the curriculum, he took an externship at the acclaimed three star restaurant Gotham Bar and Grill in the heart of New York City. There, he was taken under the wing of award-winning chef Alfred Portale and his tenured protégé Adam Longworth. The next three-and-a-half years would be spent honing his craft in this fast-paced environment and earning the respect of his colleges.
Lured by the idea of being closer to his southern roots, in 2008 Chad took a sous chef position at 701 Restaurant in Washington, DC, to help reestablish a once-thriving restaurant with Gotham’s Adam Longworth. There, he learned how to manage all aspects of a high-volume fine dining restaurant, from purchasing, staffing, ordering products, controlling costs, and maintaining their standards.
After 10 years of working in big city “destination” restaurants, Chad is bringing these experiences back to the smaller communities where he started. At Milltown, he is back in the South where his heart has always lived, and, having established a family along the way, he is looking to put down some permanent roots.