Retail: Downtown Raleigh staple Sam & Wally's closing

Downtown Raleigh is losing a legend – for now.

Sam & Wally’s, the breakfast and lunchtime staple that has served things like eggs, biscuits, specialty sandwiches and pizza on the ground floor of the Sheraton hotel since 1994, is closing Dec. 23.

Co-owner Sam Yehia, who calls the place a “downtown legend,” opened back in the day when Fayetteville Street was a walking mall, the area was lifeless after dark and real estate was easy to come by.

Yehia plans to eventually reopen Sam & Wally’s, which now operates out of a 4,000-square-foot space, in a new spot in six months to a year, he said.

However, finding that perfect location might not be as simple as it once was.

“I don’t think there’s going to be available space downtown (that’s that size) and that’s reasonably priced,” he said.

Also, because of Sam & Wally’s location, its been able to draw a strong crowd due to its proximity to places such as the Raleigh Convention Center and Sheraton and Marriot hotels.

However, because Yehia’s landlord didn’t renew his lease, he has no choice but to move. He’s still looking at options, but will probably make some changes to the new Sam & Wally’s based on the size of the new place.

“With the space that we have, we have ample rooms in here, it will be difficult to have space as big as this. So we might have to scale (the restaurant) down,” Yehia said about the future Sam & Wally’s.

Wherever the new spot may be, however, Yehia said he plans to still focus on those specialty sandwiches and maybe add a special of the day.

Customers will soon be able to find sandwiches similar to Sam & Wally’s at Courthouse Deli, which Yehia plans to re-open in the Wake County courthouse, in January. He owned the restaurant for about five years before closing it about a year ago, he said.

“Because occupancy (of the courthouse) went down, we shut it down for a while,” said Yehia, who also owns the Justice Center Cafe and Shish Kabob.

But in the meantime, Yehia is looking forward to finding a new place. And the 20 years worth of customers will probably follow.

Sam & Wally’s is at 434 Fayetteville St.

Runologie, a running gear shop that’s co-owned by Kimberlie Fowler Meeker and Laura Berry, has opened near downtown Raleigh. The place carries, shoes, apparel, accessories and nutritional products, and focuses on niche brands such as Skechers, Newton, Zoot and Lole.

Runologie is at 401 Hillsborough St.

White Oak Crossing shopping center in Garner is getting three new restaurants.

LongHorn Steakhouse, a chain that offers steaks, fish, burgers, soups and salads, will open its third Triangle restaurant near the soon-to-be-built Carolina Ale House. LongHorn is part of Darden Restaurants group, which also includes Olive Garden, Bahama Breeze and Yardhouse.

City Barbecue, an Ohio-based chain, serves smoked meats such as pulled pork, beef brisket, sausage and turkey breast, along with St. Louis cut ribs and chicken. The restaurant’s second North Carolina location will be near Cabela’s.

Also near Cabela’s will be Five Guys Burgers and Fries, a burger joint that offers fries, hot dogs and burgers that come with a choice of about 15 toppings.

According to Rich Barta, president of White Oak’s developer Core Properties, the three restaurants are expected to open in the middle of 2015; however, one could open in late spring.

White Oak Crossing is at Shenstone Blvd., at the crossroads of U.S. 70 and Jones Sausage Road, near the I-40 interchange.

Jerry’s Artarama, a Raleigh-based art supply chain, has opened Artopia, an educational studio for kids.

The place focuses on visual arts and also incorporates music, dance, theater and fashion. Artopia offers birthday parties, track-out camps, six-week art immersion programs, open studio sessions for high school kids and a “Make Art With Your Kids” series that allows parents and kids to work on projects together.

Artopia is at 6109 Maddry Oaks Court in North Raleigh.

Fast-casual restaurant franchise Blaze Fast Fire’d Pizza has opened its first North Carolina location in Morrisville.

Its menu includes salads and signature artisan pizzas such as the Art Lover with artichokes, mozzarella, ricotta and garlic; and the Green Stripe with pesto, chicken, red peppers, garlic, mozzarella and arugula.

The 2,700-square-foot restaurant’s grand opening is from 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. Friday.

Blaze Fast Fire’d Pizza is at 1024 Market Center Drive.

Pharmacy chain CVS Health is expected to open near N.C. State University in August.

The place will be part of the retail space in Stanhope, an off-campus student housing community that will open next summer. The 12,226-square-foot CVS, which will include a pharmacy, drug store and light grocery items, will be at 3001 Hillsborough St., at the corner of Hillsborough Street and Friendly Drive in Raleigh.