‘Dive bar’ for dog lovers is coming to Carrboro, from the owner of Al’s Burger Shack

There’s a new dog-centric bar coming to the corner between Carrboro and Chapel HIll.

Al’s Burger Shack owner Al Bowers and Chris Baldwin are teaming up to open 401 Main, describing it as an upscale dive bar.

The partners are reviving the former Cafe Carborro space at 401 East Main Street in Carrboro, situated on the corner where Rosemary Street meets Main. The restaurant will have an expansive patio welcome to dogs and their humans. The owners are eyeing an opening later this summer.

“Al and I have been friends for years and we’ve been plotting to open a bar like this for some time,” said Baldwin in a release. “We’re right in the middle of town and we hope you’ll leave your car in the driveway, grab the dog and head on up for a great po’boy and a beer.”

The menu is built around po’boy sandwiches, with fried grouper, oysters and shrimp, as well as a fried cauliflower option for vegetarians. There will also be a roast pork sandwich with gravy, plus salads and snacks like fried pickles and fries. The bar will focus on beer, both local and abroad, glasses of wine and frozen cocktails.

The buildup for 401 Main has been in the works for more than a year, Baldwin said. The new owners took over the space last April and have been slowly renovating it. Earlier this year, Mel’s Luncheonette hosted a menu preview for the project on St. Patrick’s Day. Mel’s is also owned by Melody and Al Bowers.

Baldwin’s background is in real estate, in flipping houses and rentals, he said, but always wanted to open a bar. He said his family’s love for dogs was the inspiration for 401’s theme.

“We’re avid dog lovers, and avid lovers of Carrboro and Chapel HIll,” Baldwin said Monday in a phone interview. “We’ve always wanted a place where we can sit outside and hang out and thought this was the perfect venue.”

Bowers is particularly busy these days, having just completed the transformation of his Pub Shack experiment into the third Al’s Burger Shack, plus the future taqueria Yellow House Tacos with Italian Pizzeria III owners Angelo and Vincenzo Marrone.

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Drew Jackson writes about restaurants and dining for The News & Observer and The Herald-Sun, covering the food scene in the Triangle and North Carolina.