Friday Fun Food Facts – April 6, 2018

Triangle Restaurant News

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

Featured Restaurant News

  • Sometimes good news is accompanied by a little bad news. Such is the case with the news this week out of the News & Observer that Calavera Empanadas, which closed earlier this year, will reopen in the Tasty 8’s space at 121 Fayetteville Street in downtown Raleigh. Tasty 8’s last day was yesterday. The new Calavera will have more than twice the seating, plus churros and possibly breakfast, keeping the Latin-focused concept open from early to late. He plans to keep the walk-up window. Yowell said he likes the idea of a pop-up Cinco de Mayo event in the new space on May 5. After some renovations, he hopes to open back up by June. Visit Calavera here.

Wake County Restaurant News

  • On Raleigh’s Fayetteville Street, the News & Observer took us on a behind-the-scenes look at the long-anticipated Wahlburgers going into the former Oxford space. According to the article they are in their final stages and will open “any day now” and likely unannounced. But don’t expect the Walhberg brothers…that’s a long shot. Read the full article here.
  • Alamo Drafthouse Cinema is opening its first Triangle location on April 26th at 2116 New Bern Avenue in Raleigh. But don’t think just movie theatre and beer (although those are two great things to think about), think also about great food and free movie rentals (75,000 titles)! And…strict rules of no texting and no commercials. Get familiar with them here.
  • The ITB Insider reported this week that City Market Sushi will soon open a sister restaurant, Seoul 116, at 116 N. West Street near Clouds Brewing. The new Korean restaurant will operate out of the former home of More. Kitchen & Bar, and before that Blue Martini. No online presence found just yet, so in the meantime, check out City Market Sushi here.
  • Over on Hillsborough Street, saw in Raleigh Offline that Guasaca, the popular Venezuelan arepa concept, is opening another location that will be located under the new Target. Guasaca has another location on Lake Boone Trail in Raleigh, as well as locations in Morrisville and Durham. Check out Guasaca here.
  • The News & Observer reported this week that the baker behind the bread at all of chef Ashley Christensen’s restaurants is striking out on his own. Andrew Ullom, the longtime executive pastry chef of Christensen’s AC Restaurants, will open a new bakery in Raleigh next year called Union Special. It’s the first project to publicly attach itself to the Gateway Plaza redevelopment off of Crabtree Boulevard in the Woodcrest neighborhood. Get familiar with them here.
  • Up in north Raleigh, John Huisman, aka Triangle Explorer notified us via Twitter that Rosemarie’s Seafood Joint is coming soon to Wakefield Commons shopping center in the former Dickeys BBQ space at 14460 Falls Of Neuse Road. No word yet on a timeline, and we weren’t able to find an online presence. Thanks John!
  • In Raleigh, WRAL reported that Nancy’s Pizzeria, home of the original stuffed pizza pie, announced that it has officially opened the doors to its 32nd location in Raleigh at 8111 Creedmoor Rd. in the Brennan Station shopping center. Nancy’s Pizzeria is hosting its grand opening party this Friday & Saturday (April 6th & 7th) with free pizza for a year for its first 100 customers starting at 5 p.m. Check out Nancy’s here.
  • In Raleigh’s Brier Creek the ITB Insider reported that the next location of Mellow Mushroom will be located at 9600 Brier Creek Parkway in what is currently an empty lot. With final permits just issued, it could possibly open by this fall. Mellow Mushroom already has locations in Raleigh, Durham and Chapel Hill. Check out Mellow here.
  • Over in Cary, the Triangle Business Journal reported this week that the next location of MOD Pizza will be in the new Publix shopping center under construction at the northwest corner of Carpenter Fire Station and Green Level Church roads. TBJ also noted that Hey Cream, a concept shop that will serve bubble tea and rolled ice cream, will be in the same center. The shops are on target to open this fall. Check out MOD here.
  • And if you can’t get to that side of Cary, don’t worry. The Triangle Business Journal announced this week that MOD Pizza will also also be going into Waverly Place on the plaza level next to Famous Toastery offering their signature “build your own” pizzas.
  • Also in Cary, reader Chris Creighton informed me that a concept called Cary Towne Kitchen & Bar is going into the former TGI Fridays space at 2002 Kildaire Farm Road. As of now, they are keeping their menu under wraps. Look for them to open this month. Keep up with the latest on their Facebook page here.
  • Staying in Cary, brothers Clif and Drew Bullard announced this week that they are bringing the CoreLife Eatery concept to Cary in September this year. It will be the second of an anticipated14 locations in the Raleigh and Wilmington markets. CoreLife Eatery offers a wide variety of fresh ingredients that are transformed into custom-created dishes. All foods are free of trans fats, artificial colors, sweeteners, other artificial additives and GMO’s. The exact location hasn’t been unveiled, but you can get familiar with them here.
  • Things are getting sweeter in Cary with the anticipated opening of Vida Dulce Ice Cream and Popsicles at 836 E. Chatham Street in the new strip mall behind Bojangles. Look for them to open any day now. Keep up with them on Facebook here. Thanks to Hugh Autry for that tip!
  • Down in Fuquay-Varina, WRAL reported that a new coffee shop and roastery is coming to the downtown area next month in the former EMS building across from the library. Cultivate Cafe + Coffee Roasters will serve freshly-roasted organic coffee and other complementary house-made products, like ice cream made from grass-fed organic milk and hand-crafted sweet and savory baked goods from Bestow Bakery, which will share Cultivate’s space. Get to know Cultivate here.

Durham, Orange & Chatham Restaurant News

  • If you have also been dreaming about a rotating mini-food truck venue…every day…with a full service beer garden (30 beers on tap) and a place to enjoy it all (indoor and outdoor), then you will be pleased to hear the news that Amber Watson at Bites of Bull City shared with us this week – County Fare will open on April 18th, missing my birthday by one day! County Fare will be located at 1920 Chapel Hill Road. Keep up with their schedule and get all the details here.
  • The other big news out of Durham is that chef Michael Lee, chef and owner of M Sushi and M Koko, will be turning the former downtown Scratch Bakery location into a Japanese tempura restaurant called M Tempura. Look for a June or July opening. Check out M Sushi here and M Koko here.
  • A regional chain of fried fish joints in Virginia will open its first Triangle location in April, with several more on the way. The Skrimp Shack now has 10 locations, mostly in the Newport News and Richmond areas of Virginia. The next one will be in Durham’s North Duke Crossings strip mall off of Duke and Roxboro streets in the space formerly occupied by Blue Stingray. There are plans for a total of six in the Triangle market. Get familiar with The Skrimp Shack here.
  • Also in Durham, Amber Watson at Bites of Bull City reported that Maze Taco, a pop-up taco spot from the owner of former food truck Zeke’s Meats, will run from April 4th through May 5th on Ninth Street Bakery’s patio after hours – 5:30-10 pm Wednesday through Saturday and late hours Friday and Saturday. Follow Maze Taco on Twitter to keep up with the latest.
  • With spring and warm weather comes the reopening of Honeycukle Tea House just west of Chapel Hill and Carrboro. If you are not familiar with them, you should do so here. Thanks John Huisman for the reminder!


  • This past week saw the biggest “closing” announcement on Chapel Hill’s Franklin Street since the closing of my beloved Peppers Pizza. Spanky’s, after a 40 year run, closed this past Saturday to make way for a new concept from the Chapel Hill Restaurant Group. Look for the new concept as early as later this month. Stay tuned.
  • And nearly a dozen people notifed me that they had driving down Kildaire Farm Road in Cary and noticed that the Newk’s Eatery had closed. Any chance we can get our Hibernia back now? Pretty please!!!
  • And down in Garner, reader Arlette Lambert confirmed that the Grill 57 has closed.

Food Trucks

  • The next Wake Forest Food Truck Rodeo will be held on Sunday, April 8th from 12-4 at the Over the Falls shopping center located at 405 S. Brooks St. If you can’t make that, future rodeo dates are June 24th and October 28th. Check in with them on Facebook here.
  • Likewise on April 8th from 12-5, Garner will also have their very own April Foods Day Food Truck Rodeo on Main Street in downtown Garner. 15 food trucks, 3 NC craft breweries, live music, crafts and all sorts of kid activities. Get all the details on their Facebook event page here.
  • Down in Knightdale, the RDU Mobile Food Association is hosting the BBQ & Beer Fest Food Truck Rodeo on Sunday, April 15th from 12-4 p.m. at the Knightdale Park Station. In addition to the trucks and beer, they will have a BBQ contest with you as the judge. Get all the details on their Facebook events page here.
  • And keeping the trucks in Knightdale, the Knightdale Food Truck Thursdays will be back in full swing come April 19th. Trucks will be on hand for lunch and dinner each Thursday at the Knightdale Station Park. Get a full schedule and truck listing on their website here. Thanks to Mark Ginsberg for the heads up.
  • The dates have been set for the Durham Central Park Food Truck Rodeo and Downtown Raleigh Food Truck Rodeos. Check out Durham here and Raleigh here.
  • Two food truck rodeo’s in Chapel Hill on the same weekend! Saturday, April 21 will be Table’s Food Truck Rodeo at Orange United Methodist Church on MLK Blvd. from 3-7 p.m. And on Sunday, April 22 at noon is the Rodeo on Rosemary featuring 15 of the best trucks in the Triangle. Get all the details on their Facebook event page here for Table and here for the Rodeo on Rosemary.
  • Two great sites to keep up with your favorite food trucks. Street Food Finder is one – find it here. And another, aptly named, is Roaming Hungerfind it here.


  • The Indy brought it to our attention that the Bull City Vegan Challenge will return to Durham for the fifth time in April (kicks off April 1), with chefs at ten downtown meat-centric restaurants creating specialty plant-based dishes that their menus will carry throughout the month, culminating in a competition decided by diners’ votes. This year’s participants, all full-service restaurants, are: Dos Perros, Parizade, Pompieri, M Kokko, Juju, Guglhupf, Counting House, Jack Tar Diner, Unscripted, and Grub. Visit their Facebook event page here.
  • Les Dames d’Escoffier’s North Carolina Chapter will host their annual fundraising event to benefit the Interfaith Food Shuttle and the NC K-12 Culinary Institute on Thursday, April 12 at Whitaker & Atlantic in Raleigh. The event, showcasing dishes created and served by Dames, station-style, will highlight NC products. Guests will have the opportunity to meet and sample the work of Les Dames d’Escoffier members who are chefs, caterers, journalistic writers, cookbook authors, restaurateurs and leaders in the culinary industry. Get all the details here. 
  • Durham Magazine, Chapel Hill Magazine and Chatham Magazine return with their popular culinary event, Taste to take place April 18-22 highlighting the culinary talents along the Durham/Chapel Hill corridor. The event will feature over 30 of the area’s top chefs at four unique events throughout the week. Keep up with the latest and get tickets here.
  • On Saturday, April 14 the Animal Protection Society of Durham will host a Pints for Paws Craft Beverage Festival from 12-4 p.m. at Northgate Plaza. More than a dozen Durham craft beverage makers including beer, cider, mead, spirits, sodas, and tea purveyors will be on hand along with local food trucks and doggie wading pools at this all-Durham family/dog-friendly festival. Get details and ticket information here.
  • The Third Annual Big Biscuit Showdown will be held Thursday, April 26 from 6-9pm at The Rickhouse in Downtown Durham. This unique food competition features teams comprised of Rise Biscuits & Donuts chefs and a local brewery or beverage company. Each Rise chef will prepare a special biscuit and donut with inventive toppings and fillings that will be paired with a local craft-made beverage. Tickets are $50 and available in advance here.
  • Want to enjoy food perfectly paired with some of the areas best brews amongst lions and tigers and bears…oh my? Well, maybe not bears, but lynxes and lemurs? Get tickets to the Conservators Center’s Lions, Tigers and Beer event to be held on May 8 from 6 to 8:30 p.m. The event will feature six food and beer pairings from local chefs and breweries, as well as a walking tour. All proceeds from the event go to the Animal Care Fund at the Conservators Center. But hurry, only 80 tickets will be sold – $100 each or two for $180. Get them here.
  •  Tickets have gone on sale for Thrive NC set to take place at downtown Raleigh’s City Market on May 10-11. All ticket sale proceeds will be donated to North Carolina nonprofits that address issues related to food insecurity. Attendees will help determine which nonprofits receive funding from ticket sales. The two-day event will highlight the fact that 1.5 million people in the state struggle to buy affordable and fresh foods. A highlight of the event will be a two-day food festival featuring top chefs from 50 North Carolina restaurants serving food and drink samples against a backdrop of live music each night. Keep up with the details as they unfold here.
  • Beer and Bacon Fest. May 19th. Cary. Not much else needs to be said. Check it out here.
  • And the 2018 version of Farm to Fork expanded to three events over several seasons and tickets to all three just went on sale. The fun begins with the first event on June 3, the perennial favorite Farm to Fork Picnic, where the area’s best farmers and chefs are paired. Then on September 16 they’ll host a pop-up dinner featuring Jacob Boehm of Snap Pea Underground & Catering. And the series will conclude on December 6th with John T. Edge and a celebration of Southern food on Chapel Hill’s Lavender Oak Farm. You can buy ticket to each individual event, or all three. Get tickets and all the details on their site here.
  • The 2018 version of Chefs for Change, a fundraising dinner series that pairs the burgeoning Durham food scene with the needs of families experiencing homelessness, is well underway. The first two events (featuring Charlie Deal on March 12 and Scott Howell on May 14) have sold out. And if last year is any indication, the next two dinners will sell out quickly. The July 9th event features Phoebe Lawless (The Lakewood and Scratch) and the September 10th event features Gocciolina’s Aaron Benjamin. Each night the chef will serve three or more courses at a ticketed dinner with the proceeds benefiting Families Moving Forward. The dinners are held at the Rickhouse and limited to 125 people. Get all the details and tickets here.

Food Bank Corner

  • Sadly, this article by Matt Kupac is one of the best reminders of what many folks in our community are faced with every day – having to put food on the table with just $4.70. The Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), formerly known as food stamps, is a federal program providing support to low-income, low asset people facing extreme food insecurity. Matt took the challenge to eat on $4.70 per day and here is what he experienced. Please support the Food Bank of Central and Eastern North Carolina and their efforts right here in our community.

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