Reflections of a Restaurateur

Emily and Kevin Purcell of Freeman’s Grub & Pub

An exclusive eskca interview with Emily and Kevin Purcell, owners of Freeman’s Grub & Pub, which was honored in our:
Tell us your origin story. How did you come to be involved with Freeman’s Grub & Pub?

We were employed at Jake’s Pub & Billiards at the time the owners opened Freeman’s. We were part of a small team that helped develop the original menu, cocktail program, etc. We worked in various positions at Freeman’s from the time it opened in 2015 until we left for an extended road trip last year. After making it to Seattle, Jessie and Josh, the previous owners, reached out to us and told us they planned on selling Freeman’s and wanted to offer it to us before anyone else. After taking a night to think on it, we decided to take them up on it and made the drive from Seattle back to Greensboro last December. After a couple month crash course in running a restaurant, we took over ownership in March of this year.

What were the biggest hurdles you encountered in your journey?

As with everyone who worked through the pandemic, we experienced pretty intense burnout last year. While we were thankful for the opportunity to remain employed, it certainly took its toll on us both, which eventually led to the decision to leave our jobs and take some time to focus on ourselves and one another. Since we’ve taken over ownership, the biggest hurdle has been dealing with the small size of the restaurant. Although it makes for an intimate setting for our guests and regulars, it also means we’re only able to accommodate so many patrons at once.

What does the future hold for you and Freeman’s Grub & Pub?

We’ll see! We’ve only been owners for about eight months, so it’s hard to say, but we plan on cranking out our full menu with seasonal items and specialty cocktails and infusions as long as we can. We’ve also been very fortunate to have an amazing staff, which is something we don’t take for granted, so we plan on keeping all of these folks around as long as they’re willing!

What are your thoughts on the food scene in Greensboro?

We love it! There are so many diverse options and places really doing it right, from greasy spoons to fine dining. We’ve eaten our way across a lot of the country, and not everywhere is like that! After working a shift at the restaurant, we’re not generally in the mood to cook at home, so having an array of choices for dining out makes us lucky citizens.

What’s your best advice for aspiring restaurateurs?

Keep your mind open! Like we just said, there are so many places around town doing this the right way, so be willing to take and seek advice from everyone. We’re grateful to have worked and learned under Jessie and Josh Kirkman, and they’ve really set us up for success here. Also, try to have fun. It’s work, and it’s going to be stressful at times, but at the end of the day, it’s a canvas for food and drink and an opportunity to serve members of the community something delicious, which personally brings us a lot of joy.

Our readers love recommendations! What’s your favorite item at Freeman’s Grub & Pub?

Food-wise, it’s a toss up between the Jerk Chicken Sandwich and the Chopped Brisket Sandwich. The brisket is smoked and cooked for 14 hours, which makes it super tender and flavorful. As far as drinks go, we love our Bloody Mary made with our rosemary and garlic-infused vodka, as well as the Large Marge, a margarita made with strawberry and jalapeno-infused tequila. We’ve got lots of options, so you’ll have to decide for yourself!


For more exclusive interviews, see our full Reflections of a Restaurateur series