A Look Back At Triangle Food News in 2019…And A Look Ahead To 2020
So, here it is. The longest read of the year. A look back at what was 2019. And a look ahead as to what is in store for 2020. Not to jump ahead…but, 2020 will be the year of three letters…B…B…Q. 11…count them…11 BBQ restaurants will come online in 2020 (so keep reading…you’ll want to see who they are). And of course there was sadness in 2019 – we lost some great people and lots of restaurants turned their lights off for the last time.
With that brief intro, grab a cup of coffee (or two) and let’s take a trip down memory lane and then look ahead to 2020…shall we?
Raleigh in 2019 – The Highlights
Ashley Christensen, was selected as the nation’s top chef by the James Beard Foundation (did we mention that it was in.the.nation?!?). And not to rest on her laurels, she opened her much-anticipated pizza restaurant, Poole’side Pies;
Celebrity chef Katsuji Tanabe opened High Horse, a live-fire restaurant in Raleigh’s City Market;
Scott Crawford opened his newest restaurant, Jolie, a French bistro located in historic Oakwood;
Transfer Co. Food Hall came onto the scene in 2019, following Morgan Street Food Hall’s debut in 2018. The following opened in Transfer Co. in 2019: Benchwarmers Bagels (Boulted Bread and Jubala Coffee), Burial Beer Co., Captain Cookie & The Milkman, Che Empanadas and Locals Oyster Bar, Bul Box, Chhote’s, Dank Burrito, Alimentari at Left Bank and Mama Crow’s;
Speaking of food halls, Morgan Street Food Hall had some additions this year: YoHo Hibachi & Sushi Burritos, Primal Cuts, Pazza Pasta and Raleigh Mini Donut Company;
North Hills enjoyed the opening this year of Stir, Mason’s Famous Lobster Rolls and Giorgio Bakistas’ Rosewater Kitchen & Bar;
Over at The Dillon in downtown Raleigh, we saw the opening of Oak Steakhouse and Barcelona Wine Bar;
Sushi Mon, the Chris Lee-owned Japanese/sushi restaurant opened adjacent to NC State’s campus;
Boylan Bridge Brewpub is no more making way for Wye Hill Kitchen + Brewing which took over the downtown skyline spot in June;
The folks over at Relish Craft Kitchen and Bourbon Bar doubled their yumminess and fun by opening The Kitchen Table at Relish (biscuits, brews and board games);
Up in North Raleigh, the much-anticipated Cape Fear Seafood Company opened their first location outside the Wilmington area in the former Kamado Grill/Lucky 32 spot;
Layered Croissanterie, opened in downtown Raleigh at 911 N. West Street in the old Rainbow Upholstery building;
The Acorn opened …and then closed…then Reuben’s NY Deli opened at 170 E. Davie Street in the former Acorn at Oak City/Kaiju space;
And in that same restaurant group, Calavera opened in their new space at 615 W. Morgan Street in the former Moonlight Pizza spot;
Jake Wood, chef de cuisine at 18 Seaboard left, taking over as the head chef at Plates Neighborhood Kitchen. And here at year’s end, is moving on from there (Pro Tip: see more on Jake below);
We saw Rise Biscuits and Donuts make the change to focus on biscuits and fried chicken; changing their name to Rise Southern Biscuits and Righteous Chicken. By year’s end, customer cries were heard and they brought back some of the donuts;
Gregory Goldberg brought his Uninhibited Tapas Bar into the former Taste location on Medlin Drive;
321 Coffee opened at the State Farmers Market. 321 Coffee is a “nonprofit coffee shop staffed by individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities;
Gateway Plaza enjoyed a massive renovation and enjoyed the addition of Andrew Ullom’s Union Special Bread;
And some other honorable mentions: Saints & Scholars finished their remodel and re-opened (February 2) at 909 Spring Forest Road; Raleigh got its location of Rockin’ Rolls Sushi Express; Oak City Fish and Chips opened their second location in Farmington Square in Raleigh; Uncle Julio’s opened on the Upper Level of Crabtree Valley Mall; McNeil Pointe on Wake Forest Road welcomed Chido Taco and Brew; Empire Eats Restaurant Group, expanded this year with the opening of Square Burger in the reopened/renovated Moore Square; Falafel & Co. opened in the former Brookside Market in Raleigh on the corner of Glasscock St and Brookside Dr.; Mildred Council’s (aka Mama Dip) granddaughter opened her Sweet Tea & Cornbread Grill & Eatery in the North Carolina Museum of History; Brother/sister team of Ben and Holly Schultz opened SmokeStacks Cafe at 701 E Lane St.; and 13 Tacos and Taps moved into the old Chubby Tacos location on Durant Road.
Durham in 2019 – The Highlights
Sister Liu’s Kitchen opened in Durham in the space in front of New Hope Commons near the intersection of 15-501 and Interstate 40 (same complex as Namu);
Dame’s Chicken and Waffles finally re-opened in downtown Durham in a new location in the Liberty Warehouse Apartment building;
Scott Howell reopened his legendary Nana’s restaurant in Durham on University Drive, which he had closed after a 26-year run;
Lime & Lemon Indian Grill on Ninth Street (former Dale’s spot) opened to rave reviews at 811 Ninth Street;
Chef Mike Lee (think M Kokko, M Sushi, M Tempura) continued building his empire in downtown Durham with the opening of his newest concept, M Pocha in the old Cupcake Bar space at Five Points;
Sidney Coves opened the second location of his True Flavors Diner at 2022 Chapel Hill Road, taking over the former Lakewood restaurant space and Scratch Baking spots. And before the year’s end he had also opened Debbie Lou’s next door to True Flavors’ Lakewood location (built around biscuits);
And some other honorable mentions: A new Italian restaurant in Brightleaf Square in the former Little Dipper restaurant space called Trattoria Salve. It is owned by Gianni Cinelli, who also has Vivo Ristorante Pizzeria In Raleigh and Osteria G in Apex; The Oak House in Durham opened on the ground floor of One City Center; Spanglish opened in Durham in the former Bagel Bar location at 104 City Hall Plaza. They operate the Spanglish food truck as well as Pressed by Spanglish over in Raleigh; Piper’s Deli in Durham closed and reopened as Steel Spatula Burger Company; The highly anticipated cocktail bar Kingfisher opened in downtown Durham; David “Flip” Filippini opened his newest Kokyu joint at 245 E. NC Hwy. 54 (near Southpoint) in the former Cure Deli & Cafe spot; The new Korean fried chicken place Chicken Bee opened on Ninth Street; A new Italian spot opened in downtown Durham at 104 City Hall Plaza called Convivio Restaurant and Wine Bar offering traditional and authentic Italian dishes; Jeddah’s Tea opened in downtown Durham at 123 Market Street; The second Triangle location of Showmars opened in Durham’s The Corners at Brier Creek out off Glenwood Avenue; The folks over at Boricua Soul food truck opened their first-ever brick and mortar at American Tobacco Campus; and Gusto Farm to Street opened its newest Triangle restaurant in Durham on Page Road.
Chapel Hill in 2019 – The Highlights
Brandon Sharp opened Hawthorne & Wood in the former Raaga spot in Chapel Hill’s East 54;
Chef Teddy Diggs opened Coronato Pizza in the South Green shopping center in Carrboro;
Al’s Pub Shack opened a slightly tweaked version of his Al’s Burgers in Chatham County near Governor’s Club. However, it wasn’t long before he converted it to a straight up Al’s Burgers (with a few twists);
In Carrboro, 401 Main, an upscale dive bar from Chapel Hill native Chris Baldwin and Al Bowers of Al’s Burger Shack opened;
Deli Edison, the Chapel Hill deli concept from partners Dan Obusan, Sam Suchoff and Pete Wagner opened in the North Chapel Hill Cedar Falls Courtyard adjacent to The Pig, a whole-hog barbecue joint, and Your Neighborhood Bar, soon to be rebranded as PiggyBack;
A new watering hole called The Casual Pint opened on the ground floor of the Berkshire Apartments on Elliot Road;
And some other honorable mentions: Welcomed and subsequently said goodbye to Haw River Grill on Elliott Road; Cat Tails Cat Cafe opened on W. Franklin Street in the Courtyard; Don Chicken, a Mexican rotisserie with Southern inspired sides, opened on Elliot Road in the former Monterrey location…but rebranded as Monterrey Tacos; The joint venture between Vinnie and Angelo at Italian Pizzeria III and Al Bowers of Al’s Burgers to open Yellow House Tacos eventually fell apart and won’t happen; A concept called Chimney Indian Kitchen & Bar is going into the space formerly occupied by Vespa at 306 W. Franklin Street in Chapel Hill and will open before year’s end (maybe).
Elsewhere in the Triangle in 2019 – The Highlights
The big news in Cary this year was the opening of the area’s first Shake Shack in Cary’s Waverly Place;
Sean Degnan and Drew Smith opened kō•än in the former An space in Cary;
Asali Desserts & Cafe opened in Cary’s MacGregor Village.
And some other honorable mentions: Dean’s Kitchen + Bar transitioned into a Der Biergarten; In Garner, Big Ed’s opened a third location; In Chatham Cafe Diem coffee shop opened on Hillsboro Street; and the Triangle’s third location of Mi Cancun opened in Penguin Place; In Hillsborough, James Pharmacy replaced LaPlace Louisiana Cookery; In Wendell, Daniel Whittaker and Patrick Cowden opened Farmhouse Café in the Wendell Falls development; In Holly Springs Osha Thai Kitchen & Sushi and Sir Walter Coffee + Kitchen both opened in the new Town Hall Commons; Town Hall Burger opened their newest location there; also bakery/cafe called Harvest Moon opened; In Apex, Wake Zone Coffee House opened their second location; Over in Wake Forest, Norse Brewing Company opened just last week.
2020 – Year Of Three Letters….B…B….Q
Check this out, 11 BBQ Joints are in the “que” to open in 2020 (one is not in the Triangle, but of huge interest to everyone in the Triangle). Here’s a quick rundown:
Pitmaster Ed Mitchell (originally from The Pit BBQ) will be opening a new restaurant in early 2020 called The Preserve with LM Restaurants and Lou Moshakos;
Moe’s Original Bar B Que is poised to open in the former Blu Seafood on Hillsborough Rd. in Durham;
Sam Jones BBQ has announced they are coming to Raleigh at 502 W. Lenoir St., in the former Dusty’s Garage near Boylan Heights;
Longleaf Swine (currently a food truck) will open in Transfer Co. Food Hall;
Picnic’s Wyatt Dickson will be opening his second bbq restaurant – Wyatt’s Whole Hog Barbecue – in Raleigh’s Gateway Plaza;
In Wake Forest, Anthony Bowman’s Smoky Tony’s BBQ will open in early 2020;
A new bar/BBQ place is coming to Main Street in Garner called Shady’s;
Jason Howard (The Cardinal and The Atlantic Lounge) shared that he plans on opening Friendship BBQ in the Topps Building in downtown Raleigh;
And not exactly Triangle area restaurant news (but certainly something of interest to thousands of folks that travel to the coast for vacation), Wilber’s Barbecue has been sold to a group of local investors in Goldsboro and will reopen in spring 2020;
And in Johnston County, The Old North State Food Hall, opening next spring off of Interstate 95 in Selma, named Redneck BBQ Lab its first tenant;
And something we haven’t reported yet, Jake Wood, from Plates and before that 18 Seaboard, has put up a logo on Facebook that touts something involving barbecue, oysters and beverages….look for that unveil in early 2020.
More Big Doings in 2020 – Certainly there is more than BBQ…Yes…Yes there is!
Saint James Seafood will re-open in January 2020. The restaurant has been closed since a nearby natural gas explosion in April;
Celebrity chef Kenny Gilbert announced plans to open a restaurant in north Raleigh called Cut & Gather and is expected to open at 13100 Falls of Neuse Road in early 2020. You might recognize him from Bravo, Food Network and as a chef for Oprah Winfrey;
Brother and sister Vansana (“Van”) and Vanvisa Nolintha (think Bida Manda and Brewery Bhavana) will open Luang Prabang (pronounced LWAHNG prah-BAHNG) next year on the ninth floor of The Dillon in downtown Raleigh;
Ashley Christensen will be rolling out three locations of a yet-to-be-named fast-casual chicken sandwich concept – locations will be Raleigh’s Wegman’s shopping center; Durham’s University Hill; and in Cary’s Parkside Town Commons;
David Sadeghi will open O’Ya Cantina next to his Town Hall Burger at the entrance to Chatham’s Briar Chapel. Also in Chatham, Chatham Park will welcome Town Hall Burger & Beer; People’s Coffee; and Everything Bagels;
Out in RTP, Boxyard RTP is a very cool concept featuring ‘cargotecture design’ (think shipping containers) to showcase food, beverage and experiences. The first tenant announced is Durham’s Fullsteam Brewery;
Cary will welcome a spin-off from an iconic New York City pizzeria – Di Fara Pizza. They have been open in Brooklyn since 1965 and the New Yorker, The New York Times, Zagat’s and the late chef Anthony Bourdain all called Di Fara the best pizza in New York;
Down in Apex, the former Peak City Grille will become The Peak on Salem from the folks behind Jimmy V’s Steakhouse & Tavern;
In downtown Raleigh The Flying Mayan will open on Fayetteville Street in the former Wahlburger’s space. From the same team behind the Flying Burrito;
The owners of Gonza Tacos y Tequila will open their new concept Macondo Latin Cuisine in the new Longfellow Real Estate high-rise in downtown Durham as well as in Raleigh in the Sojourn Glenwood Place Apartments;
MacGregor Village’s Tony’s Oyster Bar will open as Tony’s Tap & Oyster Co.;
Secrets Pho Noodle Bar is coming soon to Ninth Street in the old Saint & Co location;
Acme Food & Beverage Co. in Carrboro and Tin Roof Brewery of Baton Rouge, Louisiana will open a joint venture – a new brewery and neighborhood restaurant located at 5401 North, called Heyday Brewing;
Australian-based Zambero, a Mexican restaurant concept that also donates a meal to someone in need from disadvantaged communities across Africa, Asia and the Americas, will open in January in One Glenwood;
A Place at the Table, the pay-what-you-can cafe concept in downtown Raleigh, will enjoy a much needed expansion, adding 2,000 square feet, 50 more seats and a commercial kitchen, with a stovetop, oven and hood;
Florida’s V Pizza is bringing their concept to this market after it was announced that they just bought out LaStella Pizza on Kildaire Farm Road in Cary;
Down in Johnston County, looks like they will be getting into the “food hall” game when they open Old North State Food Hall next spring. Redneck BBQ Lab is the first announced tenant;
In Wake Forest, an English tea room called Southern Royal Tea is opening in early 2020;
In Memory – We Lost Some Great People In 2019
The tragic loss of Kong Lee at Kaffeinate after the explosion that rocked downtown Durham; Lowell Thomas “Tommy” Bullock, owner and operator of Bullock’s Bar-B-Cue restaurant in Durham; And the loss of Salvatore “Rino” Fevola, principal partner in Pulcinella’s in Durham
Restaurant Closings in 2019:
Seven-month-old Wahlburger’s in downtown Raleigh closed in January; Tyler’s Taproom at American Tobacco Campus in Durham closed; Over in Chapel Hill Southern Season’s restaurant Weathervane closed; After a 40+ year run, Boondini’s at Celebrations at Six Forks closed; and after a 30+ year run, Sunflower’s Cafe closed; Mami’s/Mami Nora’s opened out on Glenwood Avenue, and the very next day they suffered an electrical fire that leaves it closed indefinitely; And we bid farewell to Boylan Bridge Brewpub’s after a 10-year run; and Jason’s Smith’s 18 Seaboard after a 14-year run.
Other Closures In Raleigh:
Mura in North Hills ended a 15 year run; The Twisted Fork at Triangle Town Center; McCormick & Schmick’s Seafood & Steaks; Moonlight Pizza; Kaiju Bowl and Bao; North Hills location of Spring Rolls; East Village Grill (but will reopen in 2020); The Acorn at Oak City closed after just a few months; Pho Pho Pho Noodle Kitchen + Bar on Glenwood South; Living Kitchen closed in both Raleigh and Chapel Hill (twice); Raleigh and Cary locations of LaStella; and Raleighwood Cinema Grill.
Other Closures In Durham:
After 12 years, Watts Grocery; Blu Seafood & Bar; Food truck rodeo venue County Fare; Gluten-free restaurant Primal Food & Spirits; Big Bundts & More Bakery; The Little Dipper Fondue restaurant in Brightleaf Square; Saint & Co. on 9th St.; The Boot Italian Restaurant on University Drive; the Bagel Bar in Durham & Chapel Hill; Lilly’s Pizza in Durham; and Cuban Revolution in the American Tobacco Campus.
Other Closures In Chapel Hill/Carrboro:
Franklin Street this year lost: Roots Bistro & Bar; the Cuban Revolution Express; Pizza place MiDici; Hops Burger Bar; and Mellow Mushroom.
While Carrboro lost Esperanza Empanadas & Tequila; One Fish Two Fish Poke; CrossTies Bistro & Beer Garden; Milltown; and Spike’s Hot Chicken.
Also of note: Babalu in Eastgate Crossing; Olio & Aceto Cafe; and Haw River Grill.
Other Closures In Cary/Apex:
Taco Mac in Cary’s Waverly Place; LaShish Mediterranean Cuisine; bankruptcy got Peak City Grill & Bar; Eighty8 Asian Bistro; and Tony’s Oyster Bar in MacGregor Village
Other Closures In Chatham:
Sadie’s Southern (sister restaurant to Oakleaf) in North Chatham.
Barbecue Joint Closures:
Goldsboro’s Wilber’s Barbecue; The Q Shack at North Hills closed after a 15-year run and Bill Ellis Barbecue in Wilson closed.
And we can’t talk about “closings” without mentioning the “closing” of Colleen Minton’s Terra Vita Food & Drink Festival that did so much for putting this area on the “foodie” national map. This was their 10th and final year. Thanks Colleen!