Friday Fun Food Facts – February 7, 2020

Triangle Restaurant News
Triangle restaurant news…that not everyone knows. Impress your co-workers at the water cooler.

Featured Restaurant News

  • After years of being vacant, the historic Sam-Jones House in downtown Cary is finally getting a new tenant. Acclaimed chef Michael Chuong is opening MC, a modern Asian-fusion restaurant, to give gourmet diners an upscale and elegant culinary experience. Chuong will hold an open-house for the public tonight (Feb. 7) from 5-8 p.m. before opening next Tuesday! Chef Chuong is no stranger to Cary as he served as the executive chef for Prestonwood Country Club, opened and operated the popular An restaurant for six years, and then opened his own restaurant, Elements, in 2012 in Chapel Hill. Mark Hornbeck, Michael’s son-in-law has been Michael’s sous chef/right hand man in the kitchen for 17 years and will remain at Elements and Van (Michael’s daughter) will continue to handle the front of the house. Chuong will split time between the two. You can read more about it here.

Wake County Restaurant News

  • Mike DePersia of National Restaurant Properties let us know that Seoul 116 Korean Kitchen and Bar closed down last week at 116 N West St in Raleigh (if you miss the owner’s cooking, you can visit them at City Market Sushi across downtown). That’s the bad news. The good news is that a group of veteran bartenders local to the downtown Raleigh scene (Zack Thomas and Josh Gagne) purchased it and will open a craft cocktail bar called Killjoy. Additionally, they plan on subleasing the kitchen to a local caterer and will serve small plates once they get their footing, hopefully within the next 2-3 months. You can follow their progress and sign-up to be a member on their website here.
  • DePersia also notified us that Taste at 1912 Bernard St has been sold to new owners. But not to worry, the new owners are experienced restaurateurs and smart enough to not change a thing. Looking for Justin, Maranda and Ryan of JMR Kitchens? You can find them down at The Oak at 4035 Lake Boone Trail in Raleigh. You can see their announcement here.
  • Noticed on Ashton Mae Smith’s newsletter that The Merchant NC is coming soon to 126 S. Salisbury Street in downtown Raleigh. The Merchant is part of the Local Icon Hospitality Group (think The Architect, Linus & Pepper’s, Virgil’s Taco, The Green Light, and Little City). The Merchant will offer guests a carefully selected lineup of classic and adventurous cocktail options along with a chef-driven bar bites menu. Dial into their website to keep up with the latest and any announcements.
  • Over on Twitter, Brian Hammill brought it to everyone’s attention the great news that Bali Hai Mongolian Grill is opening a new location (their third) next to Sassool in the Harvest Plaza shopping center. Those that have been around a while, will remember that we lost the original Raleigh location to a fire. Since then, they’ve opened one in Raleigh/Garner and Durham. No timeline on the North Raleigh location. I know no one is more excited about this than my friend Michael Stickney! Visit them here.
  • Art Sheppard, aka the Wandering Sheppard, notified us that popular food truck Arepa Culture is opening a location at the old Bruegger’s Bagels at Pleasant Valley at 6274 Glenwood Ave. Look for them to open this Spring. Keep up with their progress and any announcements on Facebook here. Thanks also to reader Jane Bell for the tip on this.
  • Over in Cary, there is some work taking place at the former Newk’s/Hibernian site in Cary. Apparently a concept called Cahills Grill & Bar is now listing their address as 1144 Kildaire Farm Road. Not much else to report at this point aside from a shell of a Facebook page here. Thanks to reader Alison Grimme and ‘Too Ashamed To Name’ on Twitter for bringing this development to our attention.
  • And before we ‘leave’ Wake County, a happiest of birthdays to a Raleigh institution – The Players’ Retreat is turning 69 this year, and to celebrate, they’re throwing it all the way back to 1951, the year The PR was born! On February 24th, join them all day at the restaurant to enjoy original Players’ Retreat prices and menu items, like 25¢ hotdogs and 35¢ Budweiser. Get the latest on their Facebook page here.

Durham, Orange & Chatham Restaurant News

  • The folks over at The Best of the Bull reminded us that Milk Lab is holding their ‘grand opening’ this Saturday (Feb. 8) from 11:30 am until closing. This Thai rolled ice cream and bubble tea spot will be giving away tumblers, gift cards, and discounts. Find them at 105 W NC Hwy 54 Ste 265 in the same shopping center as Bean Traders and Sprouts. Get all the details here on their Facebook events page.
  • Thanks to Amber Watson over at Bites of Bull City for letting us know that Buzzy Bakes, a mobile bakery and coffee bar, is the latest tenant announcement at Boxyard RTP. Get familiar with their yumminess on their website here.
  • Carolina Brewery, the oldest brewery in the Triangle, turns 25 years old on February 9th. To commemorate the event, Carolina Brewery in Pittsboro is hosting an Open House on Saturday, February 8th. See first hand the extensive renovations that were completed in January (a more open floor plan including garage doors and large-pane tower windows, new tables and booths, an open kitchen, and new lighting and decor), an updated menu, and the launch of a new pale ale. In 2017, it modernized its brewery restaurant in Chapel Hill. Visit them here.


  • Mike DePersia notified us that Seoul 116 Korean Kitchen closed last week at 116 N. West Street. But if you miss the owner’s cooking, you can visit them at City Market Sushi across downtown.
  • DePersia also told us that Poke Bar (2604 Hillsborough St.) has closed for business but will be reopening soon under new ownership as the same concept. Stay tuned.
  • Reader Trish Sabino shared the news that Viva Mexican Kitchen at 4075 Davis Dr. (near intersection with McCrimmon Pkwy.) has closed. They still have a location in Raleigh.
  • And in Wake Forest, reader Tara Edwards broke the news that CiCi’s Pizza in Wake Forest has closed, noting that they lost their lease after 18 years.
  • Ann Marie Gunter shared that on a recent visit to Crepe Traditions in North Hills she discovered a sign on their door that announced that they had permanently closed as of February 1.

Food Trucks 

  • If you are enjoying the warmer-than-normal winter as much as I am, you will also sense that the food trucks are warming up as well. And that means food truck rodeos! Durham rolled out their first one last weekend and their list for the year has been unveiled. Check it out here. Raleigh, we are ready to see your schedule! In the meantime, visit Durham’s here.
  • As things get cold, here are a  couple of sites to find and stalk your favorite food trucks here and here.


  •  Taste Carolina Gourmet Food Tours will offer Valentines/Eat Your Heart Out walking tours in eight North Carolina cities on Valentine’s Day 2020 – Raleigh, Durham, Chapel Hill/Carrboro, Wilmington, Greensboro, Winston-Salem, Charlotte, and Asheville. Sign up for the tours are underway, and gift certificates are available. Each guided tour visits multiple restaurants for food and drink and chats with chefs and owners. A holiday gift is also included on these special tours. Registration for February 14th and for weekend tours throughout 2020 can be found here. Taste Carolina gift certificates are the perfect experience gift for all who love food and fun, and they can be purchased online here.
  • The Sarcoma Foundation of America is hosting a fundraising  event at The Glass Jug on February 22nd. The Glass Jug will be featuring a one off beer by Starpoint Brewing being brewed specifically for the event. There will also be a silent auction and Boricua Soul food truck. Get all the details on their Facebook event page here.
  • The 8th Annual Bull City Food and Beer Experience will take place on Sunday, February 23, 2020 at the DPAC. The event pairs delicious local restaurants, with breweries from across the nation. Unlimited food and beer samplings will be spread throughout all three floors at DPAC, plus the On Stage Experience will bring guests up onto the performing arts stage to showcase even more food, beverages and live music. Get all the details here.
  • The 4th Annual Cooking for a Classic benefiting the kids at the Lucy Daniels Center begins with round one on February 24-27 and tickets are just $75 each. Two chefs each night will prepare three courses each with at least one secret ingredient per dish, and attendees and guest judges decide which chef advances to the next round. Rond One features the following chefs: Monday, Feb. 24 – Eli Rodriguez of so·ca vs. Kevin Smith of 41Hundred at the Renaissance Raleigh North Hills Hotel Tuesday, Feb. 25 – Blake Gotliffe of Under the Oak vs. Kyle Teears of Whiskey Kitchen Wednesday, Feb. 26 – Kyle Fletcher of Wye Hill vs. Scott Ruzicka of Mia Francesca Thursday, Feb. 27 – Andres Kaifer of Vidrio vs. Carey Ball of STIR. All events take place at 1705 East in Raleigh. New this year, enter a raffle to win a triple-black loaded 1969 Chevy Camaro! Get tickets and all the details here.
  • Lindsey Chester notified us that Fest in the West is back for its fifth year on Saturday, May 2 from 11 am- 5 pm at the USA Baseball National Training Complex in Cary. The event features food & beer, music, arts & crafts, a KidZone, contests and a petting zoo. A great way to spend time with 7,000 of your closest friends. Admission is free! Get all the details here.
  • The 5th Annual Raleigh International Food Festival will be held on Saturday, June 6 from noon until 10 p.m. in the 100-200 block of Fayetteville Street in downtown Raleigh. While there you will be able to try authentic international food, desserts as well as  imported beer and wine! There will also be lots of music and entertainment at this child and pet friendly event. Admission is free and parking on the street is as well. Get all the details on their Facebook event page here.
  • The Thrive NC Food Festival will return to downtown Raleigh this spring on May 7 and 8. Thrive NC, which held its inaugural festival in 2018, was developed to help raise awareness about food insecurity in the Triangle, where more than 1.5 million North Carolinians struggle with hunger on a daily basis. The first day will include a food summit that delves into ways to address hunger in the state. A service project will be held on the second day involving members of the community in partnership with a local non-profit. Each night includes a food festival with more than 65 local restaurants and beverage purveyors, live entertainment, chef demonstrations and music. Tickets for Thrive NC’s food festivals are $30 each and go on sale Feb. 27. Tickets have sold out each year. Get all the details here.

Food Bank Corner

  • Want to do something for the Food Bank of Central and Eastern North Carolina at your office? Forget the hassle of a trip to the grocery store for your next food drive… create a food drive without the heavy lifting using our Virtual Food Drive, and maximize your donation times five! For every $1 donated, the Food Bank can provide FIVE meals! You can make a difference in your community by hosting a Virtual Food Drive for your friends, family members, or coworkers.  Starting a Virtual Food Drive is easy! See how easy here!

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