At the end of the year, Bu.ku is leaving its downtown Raleigh home after an eight-year run, but it will take over one of the area's most beloved dining rooms.
Early next year, Bu.ku will move into the former An Cuisines space in Cary, which closed in 2017.
"The An space is really beautiful," said Sean Degnan, who co-owns Bu.ku with Tony Hopkins. "An was a really fantastic Asian fusion restaurant, and the look and vibe really fit what we want to do. We're going to freshen it up for 2020 and beyond."
While the Bu.ku name is leaving downtown, the family isn't, Degnan said. They're currently working on a new fusion concept for a space near the heart of Fayetteville Street. The location wasn't identified and will be announced in the coming months, according to a news release.
"We're still working on a name," Degnan said. "But you can expect two syllables with a dot in the middle."
They also own Latin American focused So.ca in Cameron Village.
Bu.ku opened in 2010 at the corner of Davie and Wilmington streets in the present day Red Hat building. This spring, it opened a second location in Wake Forest, offering a similar menu to the original, a tour of world cuisines, particularly southeast Asian flavors.
The main reason Bu.ku is leaving downtown is due to Red Hat needing the room for an expansion, Degnan said. The restaurant's lease was set to expire a few months ago, but Bu.ku and Red hat put together a deal to keep it there until the end of 2018, capping the run with a New Year's Eve bash.
When Bu.ku opened eight years ago, downtown Raleigh and Wilmington Street were not the bustling nightlife centers they are today, certainly not for dining. Degnan said Bu.ku started as a restaurant with music venue tendencies, believing that they needed to book bands as much as serve good food.
"I would tell myself that we did not need to spend $100,000 on entertainment that first year," Degnan said, looking back on the early years.
"When we started there was a lot of music in restaurants, but that's changed over the years. Now you eat somewhere and go party somewhere else."
Degnan said Bu.ku became just about as far as people would venture down Wilmington Street at the time, surviving on special occasions and birthdays.
"It made us a destination location," he said. "We had to weather a couple storms...We got better with each opening. When we opened So.ca we knew our concept better at our opening."
Bu.ku Wake Forest will hold a grand opening event June 28. That restaurant is at 1228 Heritage Links Drive, Suite 100. Dinner is at 5 p.m. with live music and free sangria. A portion of the proceeds will go to A Place at the Table, Raleigh's pay-what-you-can restaurant. Degnan and Hopkins are founding members of the cafe.