The Rockford returns with new look but familiar menu

jmgiglio@newsobserver.comAugust 8, 2013 

What’s old is new again.

The Rockford, a sandwich and dinner joint that was one of Glenwood South’s original hot spots, reopened Thursday with a fresh look and familiar menu favorites.

The restaurant, which closed July 1 for renovations, hadn’t been painted since it first opened in 1994, said Jason Howard, who co-owns the place with Jay Wellons.

“We wanted to try to make it better,” Howard said. “And now we put our own little spin on it.”

In addition to a paint job, the 1,500 square-foot spot got updated bathroom tiles, new tables and chairs, new artwork and refinished floors. The owners also expanded the small 10-foot-by-10-foot kitchen, something that Howard hopes will decrease customers’ wait time for food.

“Now it’s 18-by-14,” Howard said. “Our biggest problem was that we couldn’t get food out in a timely manner. … It was just logistics.”

Chef Jason Tran will continue to create the restaurant’s popular dishes such as the A.B.C., a bacon, apple and cheddar cheese sandwich that boasts the title “Rockford’s Original Famous Sandwich.”

“Our standard classic favorites have not gone away,” said Brandy McDonald, The Rockford’s operations director. “The A.B.C. is safe for sure.”

The restaurant also freshened up its wine list and made menu additions, including a risotto that changes daily, pan-seared Scottish salmon and a New York strip with truffle butter that’s made in-house by Tran.

The Rockford closed “for good” in 2010, when Wellons and Howard bought the spot with the goal of reopening it as a different venture.

After customers left handwritten signs on the door proclaiming their love for the eatery’s margaritas, sweet potato quesadillas and staff members, the pair decided they couldn’t let the place die.

“We were going to change it to something else but the notes on the door made us realize we should save the Rockford, and that’s what we did,” Howard said. “It fits into our other concepts better than we thought, and we love it.”

The Rockford is at 320 ½ Glenwood Ave. in Raleigh.

Crafty Beer Shop, a bar that’s a mix between a lounge and a bottled beer shop, has opened in Raleigh’s Five Points.

Co-owner Brad Deifer aims to create a comfortable space where people can relax, do some work and enjoy a cold beer. The place has a bar and coolers filled with to-go bottles that customers can mix to create their own cash-and-carry six-packs.

But don’t expect to find Bud and Miller Lite at Crafty. Deifer’s shop serves only craft beer and “specialty stuff that beer connoisseurs track down.”

“I was looking to do like a Starbucks of craft beer,” said Deifer, who also founded Evo Recordings, a music recordings and management company. “ … It’s got a lounge feel but still has bottles.”

The shop offers a wide range of North Carolina draft, bottled and canned beers, such as Big Boss, Gizmo Brew Works and Mystery Brewing, along with national brands.

“(Every North Carolina brewery) that has bottles and cans, we are already selling,” Deifer said.

There are eight beers on tap, including a stout, porter and Indian pale ale. Four of the draft offerings are local, and the kegs will rotate quickly to keep the selection fresh.

Crafty Beer also sells wine by the glass and hopes to start offering cheese-and-cracker plates next week and growlers after that. Crafty Beer also takes orders for kegs.

The bar, which has Wi-Fi, outdoor seating, sofas and high tables for about 30 people, is holding a grand opening Saturday and Sunday. Various brewers and distributers will hand out samples and talk to customers about their beers. There also will be music.

Craft Beer Shop is at 2003 Fairview Road, in the old Hayes Barton Furniture shop.

Big Apple Bagels, a franchise that serves everything from muffins and coffee to bagels and bagel sandwiches, has opened in Raleigh.

“We make everything fresh. We are not like a lot of other franchises, where everything is frozen,” said owner Todd Anthony. “We are more of a specialty store.”

Sandwiches cost around $6.

Todd Anthony, the restaurant’s owner, is donating 10 percent of the first week’s sales to the V Foundation for Cancer Research, a charitable organization founded in 1993 by Jim Valvano, the late former N.C. State basketball coach, and ESPN.

Big Apple Bagels, North Carolina’s first location, is at 1141 Falls River Ave., in the Falls River Town Center.

PDQ, a fast-casual restaurant chain that offers fresh-made foods such as chicken tenders, fries and salads, opens in Cary on Sunday. The restaurant will host a grand opening from 10:30 a.m. until 10 p.m. and include music from Garth Robertson from noon to 3 p.m. All of the eatery’s menu items are less than $10. PDQ is at 9025 Winston Hill Drive, in the SearStone Shopping Center.

Nüvonivo, a children’s clothing store in downtown Raleigh, is holding a grand opening on Aug. 17 to coincide with Marbles Kids Museum’s “Kick-Off to Kindergarten” event.

The celebration will include 30 percent to 50 percent discounts off everything in the store and back-to-school giveaways, said chief operating officer Ray Malouf.

Nüvonivo, which opened Aug. 7, is at 111 E. Hargett St.

Ragan’s Jewelry, a custom and fine jewelry store, opens Friday in Holly Springs.

According to co-owner Joel Ragan, the shop carries bridal pieces, loose diamonds, estate jewelry, colored gems and NASCAR jewelry.

The store also offers custom jewelry, custom-cut stones, repair services and virtual house calls, which allow at-home customers and in-store designers to create jewelry designs together through computer software.

Ragan’s is at 5160 Sunset Lake Road, Suite 105 in Holly Springs.

A few reopenings this weekend: Sam’s Club, a members-only retail warehouse chain, has been remodeled and will hold a celebration today at 9 a.m. The store is at 2537 S. Saunders St. in Raleigh … Chick-fil-A at Garner Towne Square will host a grand reopening today starting at 6 a.m. The restaurant, located at 2720 Timber Drive in Garner, opens today after being closed for renovations. … Womancraft Handcrafted Gifts, an art gallery and artist co-op that sells handmade gifts and clothes, has opened after closing due to a June 30 flood. The store is holding a grand reopening Saturday from 10 a.m. until 7 p.m. and Sunday from noon to 5 p.m. Womancraft is located at 1800 E. Franklin St. Suite 18B at The Shops of Eastgate in Chapel Hill.

Giglio:, 919-829-4649 or on Twitter @shoptalk_nando.

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