A bit of downtown cool is coming to Durham’s big box district near South Square.
Bull City Solera and Taproom is the new beer-centric project from Seth Gross, who also owns Bull City Burger and Brewery and Pompieri Pizza. While those are in downtown Durham, the new restaurant and bar will be in a shuttered Chick-fil-A at 4120 University Drive, behind Target and around the corner from Sam’s Club near South Square mall.
“I am very excited to bring locally sourced food made from scratch, and an independently owned option to this side of Durham,” Gross said in a news release. “I have always felt that the south end of Durham has been underserved with regard to enough independent restaurants featuring the food representative of the ‘foodiest small town in America.’”
Construction will start this summer to transform the fast-food restaurant. The drive-thru window will be built over, and Solera will have outdoor seating and tables and fire pits on its patio.
The new taproom will showcase more of Bull City’s beer, expanding the brewery’s lineup to make room for more sours and barrel-aged offerings.
In the release, owners say the “centerpiece of the bar” will be a 20-foot-tall pyramid of 44 blending and aging barrels. The restaurant’s name, Solera, refers to the barrel-aging and blending technique that has grown in recent years with the in-fashion thirst for sour and wild ales. Beer will be drawn periodically from the bottom rung and put on tap, according to the release.
For the menu, Gross plans “Mexican Pizza” and “Italian Tacos,” as well as vegan and gluten-free options, saying in a release that the restaurant won’t repeat what’s going on in his other restaurants.
“We won’t be serving burgers or Neapolitan pizza here,” Gross said in a release. “Been there and done that. We are going to do something new, and I can’t wait to show off all our great flavors.”
Gross, a Culinary Institute of America graduate, has been in the Durham food scene for more than a decade, originally one of the co-founders of popular wine shop Wine Authorities, along with Craig Heffley. His restaurants are known for being obsessively locally sourced and scratch-made, making the rare exception for Heinz ketchup at his burger joint.
Bull City also is known for its Exotic Meat Month and Tarantula Challenge, which is celebrated every April. The restaurant serves up everything from alligator to venison to camel and python.
Last year’s tarantula challenge, where diners are challenged to eat a burger topped with a tarantula to win a T-shirt, attracted national attention.