Raleigh developer Will Jeffers has always been drawn to City Market and the surrounding Moore Square area.
Growing up in Raleigh and attending Broughton High School, he ate breakfast at Big Ed’s and burgers at Greenshields and loved City Market’s architecture and cobblestone streets.
So when Jeffers, one of four partners in the well-regarded Stanbury restaurant, was looking for his next project, he was drawn to this corner of downtown Raleigh.
“It’s kind of amazing it hasn’t taken off like the rest of downtown,” Jeffers said. “I think now is the time. We want to be a part of it and contribute something to it.”
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Jeffers announced Tuesday that he is opening Royale, an American bistro with French and European influences. The eatery will open this fall in the former Batistella’s restaurant space on East Martin Street. Jeffers, who also owns Cafe Lucarne, a newly-opened counter-service restaurant in City Market, is opening Royale with baker Jesse Bardyn and chef Jeff Seizer.
Jeffers is not the only one drawn to the eastern side of downtown, which is seeing a bit of a resurgence.
There’s the upcoming $12 million in renovations of Moore Square, a four-acre historic park next to City Market. There’s Red Hat headquarters nearby on East Davie Street. There’s hundreds of new residences within walking distance, including the Skyhouse, a 320-unit apartment tower on South Blount Street; The Lincoln, a 224-unit apartment complex on East Hargett Street; and The Edison, an office and residential project with a 223-unit apartment complex on East Davie Street.
“The long-term prospects are very exciting. There’s excitement about the renovations. The amount of residential is doing a lot of this,” said Bill King, senior director of planning and development for the Downtown Raleigh Alliance.
Beyond Royale, there are several projects on the horizon, according to King and business owners:
▪ Hibernian owner Niall Hanley and filmmaker Pat Shanahan are opening Watts & Ward, a craft cocktail bar in the basement of Caffe Luna on East Hargett Street.
▪ Raleighwood Provisions, a specialty grocery store, and an Amorino Gelato Cafe franchise, are planned for the first floor of the Edison. The gelato shop is expected to open in late October.
▪ City Market Sushi is expected to open in December in City Market.
▪ Bida Manda owners Van and Vanvisa Nolintha and brewer Patrick Woodson are opening Bhavana, a brewery, dim sum restaurant, bookstore and flower shop, this winter in the former Tir na nOg space.
▪ Proof Five Points owner, Claudia Frady, is turning the former Mo’s restaurant on East Hargett Street into a tiki bar and pop-up dinner space called The Outpost later this month.
Plus City Market’s owner Mike Hakan said he is making a concerted effort to lease to more locally-based, owner-operated businesses, like Cafe Lucarne, City Market Sushi and Treat, the popular ice cream shop.
“All I can say formally is: more to come,” said Hakan, who has witnessed the evolution on this side of downtown since buying City Market in the 1990s.
He added: “We’re turning into a real neighborhood where lots of people live.”
Bida Manda’s co-owner Van Nolintha agreed, saying that Moore Square and its surrounding area is a crossroads for the greater Raleigh area: artists coming to City Market and Artspace, families going to Marbles, neighbors who live nearby and workers who come to offices. “It really has the potential to be the backyard for Raleigh.”