Sir Edmond Halley's Restaurant and Freehouse - Come for the food and drink. Stay for the fun.

When we first opened in 1996, founders Svend Deal and chef Tobin McAfee sought to provide Charlotte with a gathering place where guests could enjoy fresh food, engaging conversation and an international selection of beers and spirits. (No one else pours a better pint of Guinness, and there are several reasons why.)

Like the pubs that Svend visited during his rugby travels across the globe, Sir Edmond Halley's Restaurant and Freehouse became a place to bring friends and make friends as well. We've seen plenty of first dates - and several unforgettable marriage proposals.

Over the years, our lively atmosphere and signature dishes have attracted local and national attention. Turner South's Blue Ribbon TV show named us Best Place for Late-Night Dining in the South, and there's no doubt, our kitchen kicks it overtime, serving our full menu until closing time at 2 a.m. each night.

The restaurant temporarily shut its doors in July 2010. But a group of investors quickly recognized how much Sir Ed's would be missed and rallied to re-open it with the help of a devoted family of regulars who weren't about to lose their favorite hangout. Svend - who had left several years earlier to pursue a law career - returned to help right the ship, steer Sir Ed's through renovations and return to the fundamentals that made us so successful in the first place.

Energized by the overflowing goodwill, we turned the 4-month closing into an opportunity to overhaul the establishment, install a new draft system and fine-tune our menu. Even so, anyone who has visited in the past will recognize the old place and surely see familiar faces. (Our turnover behind the bar has been so low that in our 15-year history we've only employed eight bartenders.)

Eat in the handsome dining room, or enjoy your meal in the fresh air on the patio. Scoot up to the bar, or follow the passage behind the bar to the pub room, where you'll find dart boards and tables for chess, checkers, backgammon and Scrabble.

At the heart of the pub, is our stammtisch, or "regular's table," which we inherited from the German restaurant that preceded us. The stammtisch provides space for up to 14 - depending on how well you know each other. By the time you leave, you'll undoubtedly know each other much better.

Sir Edmond Halley

He may be overshadowed by the romance of the returning comet that bears his name, but this astronomer, mathematician and fun-loving adventurer made many scientific contributions during an era called the Century of Genius. Some consider Sir Edmond Halley among the top scientists of all time. On top of that, he graciously encouraged many other great thinkers who shaped our views of the world and the universe.

Consider this highlight reel of Sir Edmond's impact:
  • Sailed to the South Atlantic island of St. Helena in 1675 at age 19 to chart the stars of the Southern hemisphere for navigation, leading the way for commerce and exploration.
  • Elected as a Fellow of the Royal Society - one of the greatest honors a scientist can achieve - at the age of 22.
  • Discovered the proper motion of stars and made significant studies of the moon's motion as well.
  • Investigated the Earth's magnetic fields and showed the moon's affects on the tides.
  • Published the first meteorological chart with a 1686 map of the world's prevailing winds.
  • Played a vital role in supporting Isaac Newton's pivotal theory of planetary motion, which introduced the concept of gravity, and even paid for the Principia's publication in 1687.
  • Regarded as the founder of scientific geophysics.

Halley's Comet

Among all of Halley's achievements, it is Halley's Comet that endures in our collective consciousness, perhaps because it returns every 76 years or so and is one of the few comets brilliant enough to be seen clearly by the naked eye.

Halley did not actually "discover" his comet but instead determined that the Great Comet of 1682 was actually revisiting us at regular intervals of about 76 years. He boldly predicted in 1705 that it would return in 1758, and it was first spotted on Christmas Eve of that year, 16 years after Halley's death.

Halley's Comet put on bright shows in 1835 and 1910, and in 1986 was studied by spacecraft from several nations. It should reappear around 2061 or 2062.

Members of the Royal Astronomical Society devoted this drinking song to Sir Edmond Halley in 1910. Not everyone agrees about how to pronounce Halley's name. Just remember as you belt this out over a pint that "Halley" should rhyme with "valley."

Of all the comets in the sky,
There's none like Comet Halley.
We see it with the naked eye
And periodically.
The first to see it was not he,
But still we call it Halley.
The notion that it would return
Was his originally.