Raleigh's Mecca restaurant nominated as historic landmark

akenney@newsobserver.comMay 29, 2014 

— The Mecca Restaurant already is a downtown landmark, known by the glowing stacked letters of its trademark sign and locally famous for its daily specials with tea and choice of two sides.

Soon, however, the building could win official recognition for its longevity.

The building, constructed in the 1800s and renovated in 1937, has been nominated for historic landmark status, a designation shared by only 154 properties in the city. The status brings a tax break for the owners and gives the Raleigh Historic Development Commission the power to review changes to the exterior of the building.

Located at 13 East Martin St., the restaurant is described in an application as a “modest commercial building dating from the nineteenth century” that also is significant for dining room fittings from the 1930s and 1950s.

That report, filed on behalf of the Raleigh Historic Development Commission, doesn’t nail down an exact construction date, but it mentions maps dating to 1884. “The Mecca Luncheonette,” meanwhile, first appears in city records in 1930 with an address on nearby Fayetteville Street.

The late Nick Dombalis, a Greek immigrant, bought the restaurant’s current site in 1937 for $10,000 and moved his restaurant there that year, according to city records.

Paul Dombalis, a grandson of Nick Dombalis, now runs and owns the restaurant with his mother, Floye, according to the city report.

The Raleigh City Council and the historic development commission will consider the matter at a joint hearing on June 3. Then the historic development commission will write a final recommendation, and the city council may grant the historic status on July 1.

St. Matthews School, on 5410 Louisburg Road, also will be considered for the historic designation at the same meetings.

Kenney: 919-829-4870; Twitter: @KenneyNC

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