Renowned eastern North Carolina barbecue pitmaster Ed Mitchell is opening a restaurant in Brier Creek this spring and considering opening a satellite location in downtown Raleigh.
Developer and business partner Vish Panjwani said Mitchell’s restaurant, Ed Mitchell’s Q at the Creek, is aiming to open in Brier Creek in April. They also are considering opening a satellite location inside the Morgan Street Food Hall & Market in downtown Raleigh.
“We have a strong interest in going there,” Panjwani said Thursday.
Morgan Street Food Hall & Market is the 22,000-square-foot former Jillian’s restaurant that Hibernian owner Niall Hanley is converting into a food hall. (Think Todd English Food Hall in the Plaza Hotel in Manhattan but with many vendors, not one.) Morgan Street will have up to 65 vendors and is expected to open next spring.
Ed Mitchell’s Q at the Creek will be the anchor tenant in a retail development that Panjwani is building at 9650 Brier Creek Parkway. The 240-seat restaurant will have an area for special events as well as a “chef’s table” dining space where 15 to 20 diners can get a close-up look at the barbecue pits.
Panjwani said Mitchell plans to serve a classic barbecue restaurant menu as well as some healthier options. And he has the added challenge of creating dishes to please the project’s investors, some of whom do not eat beef and others who are vegetarian.
“He’s got to do some things for us,” Panjwani teased.
The idea to bring Mitchell’s barbecue to Brier Creek came from Panjwani’s work at hotels in the area. “People would walk in and ask, ‘Where can I get barbecue?’” Panjwani recalled.
It took Panjwani three years to get Mitchell to respond to the developer’s inquiries but it worked out after Mitchell closed his Durham restaurant last year.
Mitchell is well-known on the national barbecue scene. He got his start in the 1990s by transforming his family’s grocery store in Wilson into a barbecue destination. He lost his restaurant in 2004 in a fight with the bank and was convicted of failing to pay state taxes related to the business.
Mitchell returned to national prominence in 2007 by partnering with Raleigh developer Greg Hatem, who owns The Raleigh Times, Sitti and Gravy. They opened The Pit barbecue restaurant in downtown Raleigh. However, Mitchell and Hatem split ways in 2011. Hatem went on to open a second location of The Pit in Durham, and Mitchell found new business partners and opened Que in Durham in 2014.
Mitchell closed Que in February 2015 saying it did not have space for private dining for corporate events and only had capacity to cook one whole hog at a time, which was not enough to meet the demands of the restaurant and catering operation.
Panjwani said they are aiming to build a kitchen and restaurant better suited to meet those demands: “If we build it right, it allows him to do what he wants to do with the space.”