Restaurant News & Reviews

Busy Bee Cafe to become Trophy Chicken and Taproom in 2017

From left, Woody Lockwood and Chris Powers, at the State of Beer they own on Hillsborough Street, are changing Busy Bee Cafe to Trophy Chicken.
From left, Woody Lockwood and Chris Powers, at the State of Beer they own on Hillsborough Street, are changing Busy Bee Cafe to Trophy Chicken. jleonard@newsobserver.com

The owners of Raleigh’s Busy Bee Cafe have announced that they are closing after the New Year and will reopen as Trophy Chicken and Taproom in January.

This move is an expansion of the Trophy Brewing Co. brand, which started as a small brewery and pizza place on Morgan Street in 2013 and added a large production brewery and taproom on Maywood Avenue south of downtown Raleigh at the end of 2015.

Here’s the good news for fans of Busy Bee’s annual Hangover Brunch on Jan. 1: It is still happening.

Here’s the bad news for fans of the Busy Bee’s tater tots: They will likely not be on the menu at Trophy Chicken.

“We’re leaning towards ‘No,’ ” said Chris Powers, who along with David “Woody” Lockwood and downtown developer David Meeker opened Busy Bee Cafe in 2009.

The restaurant with a strong selection of craft beers and one of Raleigh’s only rooftop bars is popular among craft beer aficionados. (It was named after the Busy Bee Cafe that was located there in the 1920s.) Powers and Lockwood also operate State of Beer bottle shop and restaurant on Hillsborough Street.

After eight years, Powers said they needed to make a change at Busy Bee Cafe with its extensive beer list. (Also closing after Jan. 1 is Busy Bee’s upstairs concept, Mash and Lauter.)

“We want to focus that energy on beer that we’re producing,” Powers said.

With that in mind, Powers said a bottling line has already arrived at Trophy Brewing Co.’s Maywood production facility, a canning line is arriving Friday and a 60-barrel fermentation tank is on its way.

At Trophy Chicken and Taproom, Powers said they will be renovating the draft system with all new vinyl lines. They will offer eight Trophy beers both upstairs and downstairs and four different beers on each floor. Powers said they are also adding a rotisserie oven to serve chicken by the quarter, half and whole, plus sides and tacos.

If you want to get to Busy Bee before it closes, you should know that they will cut back to weekend brunch and dinner service, starting Monday. Powers said they will be pulling out rare beers to serve over the next few weeks and will be saving a few for that last Hangover Brunch event on Jan. 1.

Info: Busy Bee Cafe, 225 Wilmington St., Raleigh, 919-424-7817, busybeeraleigh.com

Andrea Weigl: 919-829-4848, @andreaweigl

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