Friendly barbecue rivalry to start soon in Durham

jmgiglio@newsobserver.comMay 16, 2013 

The Bull City will soon be in hog heaven.

Ed Mitchell, the famous barbecue pit master, and Greg Hatem, Raleigh restaurateur and developer, are each opening up new barbecue restaurants in Durham later this year.

Hatem and Mitchell partnered to open The Pit in downtown Raleigh in 2007.

Mitchell, who once beat Food Network Star and chef Bobby Flay in a Throwdown!, is opening ‘Que at Durham’s American Tobacco Campus. It will be located in the new Diamond View III complex that under construction past the left outfield of the Durham Bulls baseball park.

About a mile down the road, Hatem, owner of Empire Eats, is going to open a second location of The Pit on Geer Street and Rigsbee Avenue.

The two restaurants are scheduled to open only a few weeks apart, The Pit in early August, ‘Que in September after construction of Diamond View III is complete.

Hatem is looking forward to a friendly rivalry with Mitchell.

“First and foremost, we’re both passionate about barbecue,” Hatem said. “I’m excited that he’s coming in. (It) turns Durham into a barbecue center.”

Mitchell plans on featuring whole-hog barbecue, smoked as only Mitchell knows how, along with turkey, ribs and a full bar.

He also aims to have most of his meats and vegetables come from local farmers, including several in Duplin County that he worked with in The Pit’s early days.

“I hope to use at least 95 to 98 percent local,” Mitchell said, “as much as I can get.”

Hatem’s restaurant will have 11 smokers that will run 24 hours a day, seven days a week, cooking everything from whole hogs to chicken to beef.

“(We are going to) roll out a beef specialty around the bull,” Hatem said. “It is the Bull City. We want to pay homage to the bull as well as the hog.”

Hatem plans to have a team of chefs and offer high-end North Carolina sides that are culinary-driven. He’ll also have relationships with area farmers and local breweries, including the restaurant’s neighbor, Fullsteam.

The Pit will have a rooftop deck and be equipped to hold special events. Hatem also plans to offer catering and tours.

Mitchell’s restaurant, which is on the Blackwell Street side of the building and doesn’t face the ball field, will include an outdoor patio, and will seat about 150 customers, said Michael Goodmon, vice president of real estate for Capital Broadcasting Co., which owns WRAL.

A new kids clothing store is coming to downtown Raleigh.

Ray Malouf, chief operating officer of Nü, an online children’s clothing retailer, is opening a brick-and-mortar shop at 111 E. Hargett St.

Malouf’s store will focus on three brands – Blue Seven, Krickets and Kanz – that are designed with vibrant colors and unique patterns and that don’t have much exposure in the United States.

“One of the reasons we decided to open a store (is that) people don’t know these brands,” Malouf said. “Parents want to trust the products they are buying for their kids. Parents will immediately understand the product we are selling.”

He hopes to model the shop after, including displaying collections to show customers how the pieces work together.

Malouf, who calls the less-than-1,000-square-foot space a “retail-e-commerce hybrid shop,” will work the online component of his business from within the store and also give customers the chance to shop for items from the website while they are there.

“As a company, this is our first venture into retail,” Malouf said. “We’ve been in wholesale in children’s wear since the 1960s. We’ve never sold a stitch of garment in the U.S.”

Nüvonivo is an arm of Eastern Commercial Agencies, a wholesale clothing distribution company his father runs in downtown Raleigh and his grandfather started in Beirut.

Malouf signed the lease on the building May 16 and expects to open the first week of July.

Thinking Dog, a full-service dog training facility and day school, is about to open its doggy doors.

The business will focus on pets as opposed to show dogs, and will offer group training classes, one-on-one training and pet-sitting services.

Owner Melissa Duran wants to distinguish her business from other doggy day cares by offering a structured day school, which includes a schedule of play time and down time for the dogs, as opposed to other day camps that are free-for-alls for the animals.

“I focus on behavior so that (the dogs) are learning to play appropriately,” said Duran, who works with rescues and has been training dogs for 15 years.

The business, at 927 Durham Road, Suite 105, in Wake Forest, between Target and Bojangles’, will hold an open house from noon to 4 p.m. Sunday. Thinking Dog officially opens for business Monday.

Form & Function, a Raleigh interior design business, has opened a store to feature its refurbished and recycled home accessories.

Owner Carole Marcotte, who has been an interior designer for seven years, also offers consultations, shopping and furniture staging for events such as parties and home sales.

Form & Function will hold a ribbon cutting at 11 a.m. June 1 at the Raleigh store, 1914 Bernard St.

Discount Tire has opened its eighth Triangle location, at 4400 Fayetteville Road in Raleigh, in the same shopping center as Walmart.

Giglio: 919-829-4649

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