Friday Fun Food Facts – January 5, 2018

Triangle Restaurant News

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

Featured Restaurant News

  •  A Place at the Table will open this Monday, January 8th as Raleigh’s very first “pay-what-you-can” style restaurant, joining the list of nearly 60-70 restaurants of this kind worldwide. It will be located in the former Café de los Muertos space in downtown Raleigh at 300 W. Hargett Street. Check out this exciting new concept here.

Wake County Restaurant News

  • So excited to share the news that one of my favorite chefs, Michael Chuong, the owner of Elements in Chapel Hill, will return to Cary (where he was formerly with An Cuisines) and open a second restaurant in the historic Sam-Jones House in downtown Cary. No timeline on the opening or the name, as some improvements will need to be made to the historic home before Chuong takes over. Thanks to the News & Observer for the details. In the meantime, visit Elements here.


  • Ashton Mae Smith was the first to let me know that the folks behind Raleigh Times and Morning Times (and four other concepts under Empire Eats) are opening a pizza joint, The Pizza Times, on the Wilmington Street side of their ’empire’ at 210 Wilmington Street. The opening date hasn’t been announced yet, but look for it very soon. In the meantime, check out the rest of the Empire Eats concepts here.


  • John Huisman, aka Triangle Explorer, noted that just two months after opening a location in Chapel Hill, Wilmington’s Tama Tea has opened their Raleigh location at 401 Fayetteville Street (at the intersection with E. Davie Street). They serve up tea, coffee, smoothies and toast. Get to know them here.


  • Also saw in Ashton Mae Smith’s weekly email that The Dogwood Bar & Eatery opened over the holidays at 610 Glenwood Avenue in downtown Raleigh. The Dogwood is the latest concept out of Bunch of Fives Hospitality Company (The Anchor Bar, The Milk Bar, Mofu Shoppe and Southern Charred). Visit all five concepts here.


  • Got word from reader Monica Williams that Postmaster at 160 E Cedar Street in Cary has opened. They feature seasonal southern dishes using local ingredients, paired with a classic, but creative bar program. Check them out here.


  • Thanks to the folks over at Raleigh Offline, we learned that Edwards Bar & Grill recently completed a mini-overhaul including a new chef, a new menu and a new look. Highlights of the new menu include a weekend brunch and $5 Burger Saturdays. Leading the menu overhaul is the chef from Mura with family recipes and NC inspiration. Check them out here.


  • Got a press release in December that Vita Vite, the popular Raleigh wine bar and art gallery, will open a Midtown location this spring in the Park Central building at North Hills. Keep up with them here.


  • On the beer front, ITB Insider reported that Funguys Brewing will be holding a grand opening celebration of their new Raleigh brewery at 2408 Paula Street on February 24. They will have their first can release, a food truck, games and more. Get all the details here.


  • Down in Garner, got word from Hugh Autry that the Tripps at Garner Station had closed and was being replaced by a Mexican concept called Cocula Mexican Restaurant. We don’t have any other information at this point, but will kindly ask Hugh to keep an eye on it for us!

Durham, Orange & Chatham Restaurant News

  • Saw in the News & Observer that Saltbox Seafood Joint, the shack that turned fried fish into an art form, opened its second Durham location the Tuesday before Christmas. The new Saltbox is in the former Shrimp Boats spot on Chapel Hill-Durham Boulevard. Congrats Ricky MooreMoore said the original location will go dormant and reopen in the spring. Check them out here.


  • The News & Observer also reported that Jack Tar & the Colonel’s Daughter opened that same Tuesday on the ground floor of the Unscripted Hotel in downtown Durham. Jack Tar takes its name from the original hotel on Corcoran Street, which was renovated and reopened earlier this year as the boutique Unscripted Hotel. This is the third restaurant from the owners of Pizzeria Toro and fine dining bistro Littler, Gray Brooks, his wife, Cara Stacy, and business partner Jay Owens. Get familiar with them on Facebook here.


  • Durham’s farm-to-table pioneer Piedmont is going “casual” in the new year, shifting somewhat away from fine dining, which has been its identity for nearly a decade, to more of a neighborhood restaurant. Piedmont will reopen Jan. 10 with a new, more playful menu that’s built around smaller plates and a few shareable entrees at lower price points with the talented John May still working his magic in the kitchen. Keep up with them here.


  • Ali Rudel’s plans to open a pie shop in East Durham just got bigger with the new year! Indy reported this week that with the new year (and a slight weather delay) Rudel has changed up the name of the soon-to-open bakery to East Durham Bake Shop, expanding the menu beyond pies (the plan was always to eventually expand the offerings – it is just happening sooner rather than later). In addition to everyone’s favorite sweet pies, she will also carry savory pies, soups, salads, and other pastries like croissants from scratch, seasonal cobbler, scones, and morning buns. Doors should open in a week or two. Follow their progress and opening on Instagram here.
  • Over in Chapel Hill, reader Charles Harrington noted that the Monterrey Mexican restaurant on Elliot Road is moving in February into the former Bailey’s spot in Ram’s Plaza. No word on the exact date. They also have a location in Carrboro. Check them out here.
  • And down in Chatham County, the folks behind Chapel Hill’s The Root Cellar (Sera Cuni and Susan White) have opened their second location very close to the intersection of 15-501 and Hwy. 64 in the Chatham Park development. The space is absolutely gorgeous and inviting with three large garage doors that will open to an expansive outside dining area when the weather cooperates a little more. And next door will be a brewery set to open this spring. I see a lot of collaborative outdoor ‘events’ in this space. Check out The Root Cellar Pittsboro here.


  • Two closures to report in Apex. Readers Jeanette Hauser and Chris Creighton confirmed that Rookies Sports Bar has closed. And Creighton also shared that Lee’s Garden Chinese Restaurant has closed.
  • Also sad to report that the Clayton location of McCall’s Bar-b-Que and Seafood has closed after a 13 year run. They still have the original location in Goldsboro.

Food Trucks

  •  This is going to be fun to watch in 2018 – County Fare over in Durham. What is it? Let’s see if this gets your attention. A barn located at 1920 Chapel Hill Road in the Lakewood neighborhood that will be surrounded daily by at least four food trucks with seating inside for 150, outside for an additional 200. And did I mention a ‘beer garden’ that will offer beer, wine, cider and other beverages? Yes Mattie Beason, you have our attention. Look for it to open in the fall of this year, or by year’s end. Follow their progress on Twitter here.
  • Hopefully these frigid temperatures are soon a distant memory, and we can once again enjoy being outside – just in time for the Winter Food Truck Rodeo at Durham’s Central Park (501 Foster Street) on Sunday, January 14th from 12-4 p.m. Get all the details here.


  • And here is a great event to kick off your 2018… Can you say sausage!?! Durham’s first Sausagefest will take place on January 14th inviting meat-lovers to taste and stock your fridge with locally crafted sausages from your favorite restaurants and butcher shops! VIP tickets include early entry from noon-1 p.m. with passed appetizers, t-shirt and an exclusive sausage making demo. General Admission entry from 1-4 p.m. Sausages of all kinds will be available for take home from First Hand Foods, Left Bank Butchery and more. Restaurants providing bites to include Gocciolina, Dashi, The Root Cellar, Black Twig Cider House and more. VIP tickets are $45; General Admission are $25. Get all the details and tickets here.
  • Also, the dates for the Lucy Daniels Center 2018 version of their popular Cooking for a Classic have been set. This year’s event consists of three rounds and eight chefs vying to win a restored ’49 truck. It is gorgeous! The first round kicks off on Monday, January 22 and continues through the week. The semifinals are the following week and the final showdown will be on Wednesday, February 7th. This year’s competing chefs are Trey Cleveland of Top of the Hill, Chapel Hill; Matt Hannon of Ironwoods Cafe, Southern Pines; Jonathan Ballard of Dean’s Kitchen and Bar, Cary; James Patterson, McConnell Golf Dining; Troy Stauffer, City Club, Raleigh; Aaron Matyac, Whiskey Kitchen, Raleigh; Dean Thompson, Raleigh Renaissance Hotel; and Nick Fay, Coquette, Raleigh. Get a peek at the truck and all the details here.
  • Mark your calendars for the return of Triangle Restaurant WeekJanuary 22-28, 2018. During TRW, participating restaurants offer special three-course menu options and fixed pricing, a great opportunity to try places you’ve never been before – or to enjoy your old reliables with a new twist. No reservations, tickets or passes required. Get all the details and a list of participating restaurants here.

Food Bank Corner

  • The last thing you probably want to do after reading this long blog (especially long after the holiday break) is read more. But I’m going to challenge you. PLEASE take an extra three minutes out of your day to read this blog post over on the Food Bank of Central and Eastern North Carolina’s website. It is a post by Matt Kopac where he challenged himself to ‘survive’ on just $4.70 per day for food through the SNAP Challenge. It is a real eye-opener to the reality of food insecurity and the importance of organizations like the Food Bank of Central & Eastern North Carolina in preventing hunger in our community. Please read this! You can thank me later for the perspective it will provide you. And perhaps you will take the SNAP Challenge.

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