Universal Joint, Clayton

Written By: Debbie Brunen

The word garage typically conjures up the notion “man cave.” If you hear the words “universal joint,” you might think they are referring to something mechanical. And in truth, the technical definition of a universal joint is “a mechanical device that allows one or more rotating shafts to be linked together. … It also allows for transmission of power between two points that are not in line with each other.”* 

Universal Joint in downtown Clayton is anything but a man cave and is definitely far from being something mechanical. Located at the corner of Hiawassee and Main Street, Universal Joint is known for the “transmission of power between two points” by consistently serving up great food to hungry customers and ice-cold beverages to thirsty individuals! 

The Clayton restaurant, the third of six locations in a privately owned franchise with locations in four states, capitalizes on a unique concept by taking for its location what was once an abandoned 1950s gas/service station. This location opened in 2011 and has been pumping out tasty nourishment along with an assortment of specialty craft beverages ever since. 

This is a bustling American pub, casual in its decor but delivering a sophisticated touch with made-from-scratch offerings and daily specials. The atmosphere is both energetic and friendly, evoking a sense of ease. Indoors you will find simple but ample seating, whether at a table, at a booth or around the U-shaped bar. The glass-panel roll-up doors add light to the original brick interior, and during the spring months, the doors are often opened to let the mountain air in. Outdoor seating is plentiful and includes umbrellas for shade during the summer months and a fire pit to warm by on cooler evenings. 

In addition to offering vegetarian and gluten-free options, the menu is straightforward, featuring a finely tuned selection of burgers, sandwiches, salads, tacos and appetizers. Known for having the “best burger in town,” Universal Joint is the go-to place for burgers and is regularly recommended by local residents to the many people who visit the area. Weekday lunch specials are offered year-round, and weekday dinner specials are offered during the winter months. For the beer aficionado, there is a selection of 17 different craft and domestic beers on tap, some of which rotate with the season and according to popularity. 

To say there is something for everyone of all ages is an understatement. Universal Joint is big on promoting itself as a family-friendly restaurant. The outdoor patio offers kid-friendly games, such as cornhole and yard-size Jenga, as well as buckets of sidewalk chalk for entertainment. Indoors, large flat-screen TVs are mounted on three walls, allowing you to follow your favorite sporting event.

Not only is Universal Joint big on families, it is big on pets! The outdoor patio is the setting for anyone who likes to bring Fido along. A pet menu cleverly named “Bone Appetit” provides pet owners with the option to purchase treats such as bacon strips, burger patties or even a bowl of ice cream for their furry friends. Bowls of fresh water are always available for the asking at no extra charge. Of course, all pets must be kept on a leash and play well with others. 

Special events throughout the year provide opportunities for Universal Joint’s management and staff to support community partners, neighbors, and local charities by sharing proceeds or hosting fundraising events. Their annual Christmas party/customer appreciation event has had great success in collecting and providing for the less fortunate in the county.

Live music is a popular outdoor event during the warmer months. Local and regional musicians regularly play on a corner stage on the patio affectionately named the “Gas Money Stage.” Wednesday night karaoke, the annual New Year’s Day PJ party, the Valentine’s Day singles party, the St. Patrick’s Day celebration and a family-friendly pumpkin-carving contest in the fall are just a few of the countless special events planned throughout the year. 

There is always something going on at Universal Joint. Whether you are looking for a great burger in an alfresco setting, a friendly game of cornhole or just opportunities for people watching, Universal Joint in downtown Clayton is the perfect pit stop. 

Universal Joint

109 N. Main St. F





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