If you asked Kim Hammer if she set out to be an evangelist for local food products, my guess is her answer would be no. Nonetheless, few people will wax poetic about their favorite local peanut butter or practically jump out of her seat while describing the first time she found a local clotted cream.
If Hammer, owner of Raleigh’s beloved coffee, dessert, and cocktail bar Bittersweet, truly is a local food evangelist, than Raleighwood Provisions will be her church. The almost 1,600-square-foot shop at 107 E. Davie St. is slated to open in early 2017.
The shop, just a few blocks from Bittersweet, is result of Hammer’s combined love for both North Carolina products and downtown Raleigh. The simple aim of Raleighwood Provisions is to “expose the neighborhood to local food and beverage producers,” Hammer explained in a recent interview.
“These companies have an innately personal relationship to their products, and I want the store to reflect that,” Hammer says.
To that end education will be a large component of the Raleighwood Provisions experience. In fact, the shop will operate by what Hammer has come to describe as “Kim’s Ethos.” Education is one pillar, with Hammer emphasizing product knowledge in her staff and assisting consumers with learning more about where those products came from and how they were made. Transparency is another important value, one Hammer returns to time and again during our interview. Lastly, as both regulars and first-time visitors to Bittersweet can attest, she is big on hospitality.
Hammer is counting on an ever-expanding downtown Raleigh populace to become Raleighwood Provision’s best customers, noting the nearby presence of Red Hat and Citrix as well as numerous law firms and start-ups.
“Raleigh customers are very eager to hear about [these] products,” Hammer explains, “and they recognize the value in those products.”
In addition to deep product knowledge, education and features like a front table “package meal” display (Hammer suggests such a display might carry items like packages of Melina’s Fresh Pasta, jars of Nello’s Sauce, and loaves of Night Kitchen Bread for a quickly thrown-together meal), customers can expect an ever-changing inventory based on neighborhood demand and feedback.
“My most important important goal is to listen to the neighborhood and get them to where they want to be as consumers and cooks,” Hammer emphasizes.
She has relied on many of the relationships she first formed years ago while selling at the Carrboro Farmers Market to source products for the shop, and forged some new relationships along the way.
Customers can expect to see labels from producers like Big Spoon Roasters, Blakemere Company, and Two Chicks Farm. Raleigh’s Night Kitchen bakery will provide bread (Hammer has been working with them to design smaller loaves more suitable to an urban, every-other-day shopper), dairy from Maple View Farm, and even some North Carolina wine.
With construction still underway, Hammer is hoping for an early 2017 opening. In the meantime you can follow along with the shops progress on the Raleighwood Provisions’ Instagram account.
Or you can sidle up to the bar at Bittersweet, order a cocktail and ask Hammer to tell you all about her vision for the shop.
Matt Lardie is a Durham-based food and travel writer. He is the co-founder of the lifestyle website School of Home: schoolofhome.com. Reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org.