CalaVela coming soon to Carrboro, The Shoppe Bar & Meatball Kitchen to follow

Ken Yowell, owner of CalaVela Empanada & Tequila Bar ( in downtown Raleigh is targeting the first week in February for the opening of a second location in Carrboro.

The restaurant was known as Calavera until last April, when Yowell and his original partners parted ways, both parties agreeing not to use that name.

Located in the same building as the new Hampton Inn at 570 E. Main Street, the new restaurant will sport the same distinctive Day of the Dead motif and extensive tequila selection as the original. The menu will be similar, too, though Yowell notes that “the full kitchen will allow us to add more empanada choices as well as expanding a bit on our appetizers.” Plans are to open initially from 4 p.m. to 2 a.m. Monday-Saturday, with Sunday hours to be added a few weeks down the road.

Once CalaVela is up and running smoothly — April 1, if all goes according to plan — The Shoppe Bar & Meatball Kitchen is slated to open in the adjacent space. Working out of a kitchen shared with CalaVela, the second restaurant will serve the same menu as Oak City Meatball Shoppe (, Yowell’s other downtown Raleigh eatery. The roomier Carrboro digs will allow for an expanded beer selection (14-16 drafts and another 25 or so in cans and bottles), as well as more than 60 bourbons and whiskeys. As for the name change, the older-but-wiser restaurateur chalks it up to experience: “Of course, Carrboro is not Oak City. I didn’t think past opening Raleigh at the time.”

Greg Cox, the longtime N&O restaurant critic, also covers restaurant news. Tune in to hear his radio show at 11 a.m. Saturdays on WPTF. Reach him at

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