Restaurant News & Reviews

Morgan Street Food Hall delays opening, chefs on the move, and more foodie news

The Morgan Street Food Hall, set to open in downtown Raleigh’s Warehouse District, continues to add vendors, but has pushed its opening date back to early 2018.
The Morgan Street Food Hall, set to open in downtown Raleigh’s Warehouse District, continues to add vendors, but has pushed its opening date back to early 2018. Morgan Street Food Hall

Morgan Street Food Hall, one of two food halls planned for downtown Raleigh, has adjusted its timeline for opening, with early 2018 as the new projection.

The food hall had been projected to open by late summer, according to previous news releases.

This week, the Hibernian Hospitality-owned project also announced that Hook & Cleaver Market on Morgan will be part of the food hall. Chef Joseph Fasy owns Hook & Cleaver on Broad in Fuquay Varina and has cooked in the kitchens of the Biltmore, Le Cirque and the hospitality village at the 1996 Atlanta Olympics.

The Morgan Street Hook & Cleaver will offer fresh-cut meat, a menu of prepared foods, North Carolina seafood, local cheeses and bread and artisan non-perishables like oils and pasta.

In the past six months, Morgan Street has booked 35 vendors and restaurants, including the first storefront restaurant for Cousins Maine Lobster food truck, with plans and room for more than 60.

Hibernian Hospitality is owned by Niall Hanley. He owns Hibernian pubs and the Raleigh Beer Garden, among other restaurants.

The food hall is in a 22,000-square-foot space formerly occupied by Jillian’s bar in the Warehouse District.

It’s one of two Raleigh food halls opening in 2018. Transfer Co. will occupy 42,800 square feet of the former Carolina Coach Garage and Shop at 500 E. Davie St. on the east side of downtown Raleigh. It will house Saxapahaw General Store in addition to other food stalls and purveyors.


Oakwood Pizza Box
Anthony Guerra, pictured in March 2017, stands outside Oakwood Pizza Box on Person Street in downtown Raleigh. It opened in September 2017. Jessica Banov

Anticipated openings

▪ The anticipated Oakwood Pizza Box has opened at 610 Person St. in downtown Raleigh. It’s owned by Anthony Guerra, whose family used to own the now-closed Bella Mia, a highly acclaimed, beloved pizza restaurant in Cary. Look for a simple, focused menu: pizza with red sauce or white sauce and a choice of 10 toppings. You can buy pizza by the slice as well. There’s a selection of house cocktails, beer and wine. It’s closed Mondays and Tuesdays.

▪ Al’s Burger Shack has opened its second location in Southern Village at 708 Market St., Chapel Hill. The menu is similar to the original Franklin Street spot, but there’s more seating, free parking and extra menu items (turkey burger, salads and beer on tap).

And some closings...

▪ The Oval Park Grille announced on Facebook this week that it would close after four years on Broad Street in Durham. The Watts-Hillandale neighborhood spot was known for a solid brunch, chicken wings and a commitment to local sourcing. A new restaurant will soon take its place, as owners Joe and Emily Kahn said they sold the business, but declined to name the buyer.

▪ Sandwhich in Chapel Hill warned fans in August it would closing in three weeks, and that time came Thursday. For 12 years, Janet Elbetri owned the Franklin Street burger and sandwich shop, but announced in a public letter that it was time for a change. She said a new restaurant will move into the space and that it will be completely different from Sandwhich in concept, but “yummy” and made from scratch. She added that the new owners offered jobs to the Sandwhich staff when the new restaurant opens.

Piedmont adds Saturday brunch

If you’re looking for more reasons to drink champagne in the morning, Piedmont in Durham has you covered. Starting Sept. 30, Piedmont is launching a new Saturday brunch series called “Bubbly Brunch” where they’ll offer at least five sparkling wines by the glass, North Carolina draft beer, coffee, cocktails and a menu more playful than the standard bennys and omelet fare.

It’s a menu to drink to, and dishes are geared toward diners who like to share plates. There are snacks – like fried biscuits and preserves, tater tots and baked grits – and larger plates such as a country-fried steak and eggs with gouda buffalo sauce and a waffle fried chicken. As for the cocktails, look for two bloody marys (one with vodka and one with mezcal) and a refreshing aperol spritz.

Piedmont will continue to serve a more traditional brunch on Sundays.


MOFU Shoppe’s ready for lunch

MOFU Shoppe opened on Blount Street a month and a half ago, but did so without a lunch menu. Well, lunch has arrived in a big way.

The team behind the Pho Nomenal Dumpling truck added lunch service this week at MOFU with a menu overlapping some with dinner, but adding a list of sandwiches. Lunch includes the MOFU wings and pork and chive dumplings, but adds a poke tuna bowl, a veggie Banh Mi, a chicken salad sandwich and a fried shrimp sandwich.


Regan and Dawn Stachler at their Apex restaurant, Little Hen, in 2012. Little Hen closed in 207 and Regan Stachler is now the chef of Verandah restaurant in Cary’s Mayton Inn. News & Observer file photo

Chefs on the move

▪ If you’re missing the charming Little Hen, which closed in February after six years of farm-to-table cooking in Apex, you may want to make a trip to downtown Cary. Regan Stachler, who opened the Little Hen, is now the executive chef at Verandah restaurant in the Mayton Inn on South Academy Street.

Stachler will bring fresh homemade pasta to Verandah’s Southern-inspired menu. In 2012, News & Observer restaurant critic Greg Cox gave Little Hen four and a half stars out of five, lauding the showstopping Pork Big Board, the ultimate shareable feast of pork five ways with all the trimmings.

▪ Chef Josh Munchel, formerly of the 21c Museum Hotel restaurant, Counting House, in Durham, is the new executive chef of the Durham Catering Company. Munchel was the first chef at Counting House when the hotel opened in 2014, but left the hotel restaurant this year. Chef Thomas Card took over the Counting House kitchen early in 2017 after most recently working as executive sous chef at the Fearrington House Restaurant.

Chef-influenced salads

Speaking of restaurants in Durham’s boutique hotels, Chef Andrea Reusing of The Durham’s restaurant is contributing her culinary talents to Chopt.

Chef Andrea Reusing of The Durham Restaurant prepares the Warm Savoy Spinach Salad in her restaurant kitchen. Reusing recently had a hand in designing three salads for fast casual chain CHOPT, including one featuring fall ingredients from North Carolina. Juli Leonard

The fast-casual salad chain recently introduced three seasonal salads based on flavors and ingredients from the American South, and enlisted a local chef to make those flavors ring true. Reusing, also of Chapel Hill’s Lantern, helped design the salads, with nods to New Orleans, Nashville and of course North Carolina.

There’s the Nashville Hot Chicken Caesar, the Creole Shrimp Bowl and the Carolina Harvest Grain Bowl, with Ashe County hoop cheddar, roasted squash and apples. The salads run around $11 and will be sold at Chopt’s two Triangle locations, in Raleigh’s Cameron Village and Chapel Hill’s Eastgate Crossing, until Nov. 5.

Reusing said she picked ingredients to help ground them in specific parts of the South.

“Cooking here leads you to people like Lee Calhoun, an apple hunter from Pittsboro who helped create Southern Heritage Apple Orchard,” Reusing said in a news release. “Along with other growers, he’s helped preserve hundreds of old Southern apples (apple varieties). We are honored to work alongside amazing producers and growers who give our food a sense of place and to share those relationships at Chopt.”


Drew Jackson; 919-829-4707; @jdrewjackson