Friday Fun Food Facts – May 15, 2015

Triangle Restaurant News

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

Featured Restaurant News

  •   The big news this week was first reported by John Huisman, aka Triangle Explorer. He lit up Twitter last Sunday with a tweet reporting that Gonza Tacos Y Tequila has plans to open another Raleigh location in the Aloft Hotel that is going in on Hillsborough Street. Check them out here.

Wake County Restaurant News

  • Saw on WRAL that Vincent Barresi and Christopher Bender opened Italian restaurant Bigboom last weekend in the former Red Room tapas space at 510 Glenwood Avenue in Raleigh. Check their Facebook page out here.
  • Raleigh’s iconic A-frame IHOP restaurant on Hillsborough Street is moving a bit further down the street. It was announced this week in Triangle Business Journal that the current location would close (making way for new development) but that it would simply move to one of the retail spaces opening up in the new Stanhope Student Housing Complex at 3001 Hillsborough St. The relocated IHOP is expected to open in the spring 2016.
  • New Raleigh reported this week that La Carreta Mexican Restaurant is moving into the former OC Bar and Grill spot in Oberlin Court, which is near the intersection of Wade Avenue and Oberlin Road. Check them out here.
  • Got word from reader Scott Erickson that Chanticleer Cafe and Bakery, a new quick service restaurant serving up breakfast, lunch and specialty coffees, is coming to Wellington Park Shopping Center off Tryon and Cary Pkwy in Cary. No word yet on an open date, but you can check them out of Facebook here.
  • Thomas Vincent informed me that his Compass Rose Brewery opens this Saturday at 3201 Northside Drive in Raleigh. Congrats to Thomas and Jeff. Check them out here and plan a visit soon (if not tomorrow).
  • Saw in the News & Observer that Cantina 18, a Mexican restaurant that’s part of chef Jason Smith’s 18 Restaurant Group, is remodeling its existing space and adding a second floor this summer. We’ll keep an eye on it and let you know when it is complete. Check out all of Jason’s restaurants here.
  • We first reported this back in January of this year, but the News & Observer provided an update this week on Whiskey Kitchen. Jeff Mickel and Michael Thor are currently renovating the building that was the former White Horse Limo warehouse at the corner of McDowell and Martin Streets and are looking at a late September, early October opening. Their website is here and you can keep up with their progress on Facebook here.
  • Got word from reader Diane Pisano that Penn Station East Coast Subs will be opening a new location in Cary in the new “mini” strip center on Cary Towne Blvd (next to the new Harris Teeter in that same area). Thanks to Diane for the information. Check out Penn Station here.
  • The News & Observer noted this week that Panera Bread has requested from the Town of Garner a conditional permit for site approval at White Oak Crossing. The restaurant will be next to Red Robin at the corner of Jones Sausage Road and U.S. 70.
  • New neighborhood communities don’t normally make my blog. But when the community includes a new coffee shop I do! And that is the case with Wendell Falls in Wendell that will have its very own coffee shop as of May 16th. As part of the café (and neighborhood) grand opening, they’ll also have a “barn raising” celebration feature southern dishes by Farmers Table, Big Boss craft beer and new gourmet coffees from Grounds Café. Stop by on May 16th from 12 – 6 p.m. Get all the details here.

Durham, Orange & Chatham County Restaurant News 

  • The News & Observer reported this week that the Piedmont’s chef Ben Adams is leaving Piedmont to partner with Pig Whistle whole hog barbecue caterer Wyatt Dickson to open Picnic, a modern barbecue restaurant, this fall in North Durham. They have not signed a lease yet and so could not reveal specific location. We’ll keep an eye on it.
  • In related news, the News & Observer also reported that due to Adams’ latest announcement, Piedmont restaurant has a new chef, Greg Gettles, who previously worked at Herons at The Umstead Hotel & Spa in Cary and the now-closed Magnolia Grill in Durham. That is certainly great news for fans of Piedmont.
  • And if that is not enough BIG NEWS for one week, the Independent Weekly reported this week that chef Ben Barker is talking with Carrboro officials about something diners have been hoping to hear since he and wife Karen closed Magnolia Grill in Durham two years ago this month: They plan to open a pizzeria. Barker told the Indy in January 2013 that such a venture was possible, so long as their son Gabe was in charge. Gabe has been honing his culinary and business management skills at restaurants on the West Coast. The project is still in the early stages, and they haven’t even signed a lease yet, but we’ll keep an eye on it.
  • And if you love a good cup of coffee, like the ones they pour over at Cocoa Cinnamon in Durham, you’ll want to know they are planning to open a 2nd Durham location. They are currently in the middle of raising funds (you can pitch in and help) to make that second shop a reality. Visit their Community Sourced Capital page to find out more about the project and how you can be a “square holder.” Thanks to John Huisman, aka Triangle Explorer, for highlighting this.
  • The much-anticipated Tom+Chee restaurant in Carrboro will swing open their doors today (May 15) with a ribbon cutting ceremony at 10:15 a.m. They are located at 370 E. Main Street in the Hampton Inn complex. Visit their website here or their Facebook page here.


  • We got word last week that Barberitos in Cary’s Waverly Place has closed due to unforeseen circumstances.
  • And sadly, the “Hot Now” light is forever off at the Krispy Kreme location on Franklin Street in Chapel Hill, according to the Daily Tar Heel. Sad.

Food Trucks 

  • With a little divine intervention, it looks like Chapel Hill is going to have a food truck rodeo of its own – and to benefit a great cause. On Saturday, May 16th from 3 to 7 p.m. Orange United Methodist Church on MLK Blvd (at the intersection with Homestead Road) is going to have at least 10 food trucks and tons of other events all to benefit TABLE, which provides healthy, emergency food to hungry children in Chapel Hill and Carrboro. Get all the details here.
  • If you miss that, or want even more food truck cuisine, head on over to Pittsboro that evening for the Pittsboro Food Truck Rodeo (every 3rd Saturday) across from Pittsboro Roadhouse & General Store from 6-9 p.m. Trucks featured there include: American Meltdown, Bandido’s, Bella Donna’s, Bulkogi Korean BBQ, Carolina Brewery and Little Dipper’s Italian Ice. Get all the details here.
  • The next Wake Forest Food Truck Rodeo is this Sunday (May 17th). It will be located at 419 Brooks Street at the Over The Falls Shopping Center and runs from 12 to 4 p.m. Check them out here.
  • Food Trucks and Flowers – sounds like a great, and fun, combination. The third annual Fairview Garden Center Flora and Food Trucks series will feature the Triangle’s most popular and delicious food trucks.  These events will take place on spring Saturdays, March 28 through May 23, 11:30 AM until 2:30 PM at 8224 Holly Springs Rd. in Raleigh, North Carolina. Get all the details here.
  • Alright folks, it is time to step up and help one of our own. On March 9th a drunk driver struck the side of the MamaDukes food truck and took them out of business. The insurance deemed the truck a total loss and the settlement was not enough to rebuild. They need our help to reopen for business. Visit their GoFundMe website for the details and to contribute to their effort to reopen. They are just under $1,800 from meeting their goal. Every little bit will help.
  • For a listing of ALL food truck events, head over to Art’s page, The Wandering Sheppard on all things food truck related here.


  • The annual Got To Be NC Festival is this weekend (May 15-17) at the North Carolina State Fairgrounds. The festival is a free family friendly event with carnival games and rides, live music, food, animal and agricultural displays, antique tractors, and more. Get all the details here.
  • Thanks to a tip from James Barnett, I got word that the inaugural Read Local Book Festival (with the tag line: Shop Local. Eat Local. Read Local) is coming up May 15-17, and features several food-related activities. The Friday night event (6-8 p.m.) features James Beard Award Semi-Finalist Chef Lionel Vatinet. And the Saturday night event features 4-5 course dinners at The Pit, Little Dipper and Basan. Get all the details and tickets here.
  • The Town of Morrisville is hosting their popular East Meets West food festival on Saturday, May 16th from 11 a.m. ’til 4 p.m. along Town Hall Drive in Morrisville. Over 15 participating restaurants and lots of entertainment. Get all the details here.
  • Also on May 16th, the folks over at Six Plates in Durham are holding their 8th annual Txakolifest. It is a two-part event, with a fundraiser from 12-3 for Urban Ministries featuring wine as well as food from Watts Grocery, Gocciolina, Pizzeria Toro, Blu Seafood, Vin Rouge, Toast, G2B and Juju. That session is $75. The general admission session begins at 3 and lasts until closing. Get tickets and all the details here.
  • The good folks over at Ninth Street Bakery are bringing back their extremely popular Vegan Brunch. It kicks off again on Saturday, May 24th from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. at their downtown Durham location. Get all the details and menu here.
  • Tickets went on sale recently for one of my favorite events of the year (a weekend of events really) – Farm to Fork – which will take place this year Friday, June 5th through Sunday, June 7th. Get tickets and all the details here.
  • The dates are set for one of my other favorite food events of the year – the TerraVita Food & Drink Festival held in Chapel Hill every year. It simply can’t be missed. Go ahead and start setting aside your money for the tickets – they go on sale the middle of this month. Take a look at all the initial details here.
  • And finally, WRAL’s Out and About has launched its first Voters’ Choice Awards where they are seeking nominations in categories like Best Food Truck, Bakery, Brewery, Restaurant, BBQ and more. The nomination period ends May 24 and in June they will reveal the finalists and open up voting. The winners will be honored at a party in August! Start voting here.

Food Bank Corner   

  • Did you know that the Food Bank of Central and Eastern North Carolina plans to distribute between 50 and 52 million pounds of food this year? That’s more than 140,000 meals a day! They expect their fleet of 19 trucks to travel over 500,000 miles to serve their 800 partner agencies and maximize their food donor partnerships. To do that, they are aiming to raise over $8 million in revenue and work with over 15,000 volunteers to keep the Food Bank running and expand service where possible. Want to see a list of upcoming “foodie” events that you can attend AND help the Food Bank? Check it out here.

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