Business

Retail: Chef Ashley Christensen to open pizza joint in downtown Raleigh

Ashley Christensen, Poole's diner chef, talks to staff before the start of Stir the Pot with Ryan Prewitt, pictured left, Sunday, April 19, 2015 inside Christensen's newest restaurant, Death & Taxes in downtown Raleigh.
Ashley Christensen, Poole's diner chef, talks to staff before the start of Stir the Pot with Ryan Prewitt, pictured left, Sunday, April 19, 2015 inside Christensen's newest restaurant, Death & Taxes in downtown Raleigh. jhknight@newsobserver.com

Ashley Christensen has spent the past two years or so preparing to open her latest eating establishments in downtown Raleigh.

But now that restaurant Death & Taxes, event space Bridge Club and commissary kitchen Aux have opened, the chef and James Beard Award winner is already thinking ahead to her next venture: a Neapolitan-style, wood-fired pizza joint she plans to call PooleSide Pie.

“I’m super excited about it,” Christensen wrote in an email. “Much like coffee, I think there’s lots of room for great pizza of varying styles in downtown. I predict that you’ll see a number of unique spots to pop up in the next couple of years. The idea of that makes me very happy.”

Christensen doesn’t yet have a target opening date, but says the place will be next to her Poole’s Diner on South McDowell Street.

In the meantime, she’s focusing on running her three new spaces, which recently opened in a 10,000-square-foot renovated building on the corner of West Hargett and S. Salisbury Streets.

Death & Taxes and Bridge Club operate separately within that space; Death & Taxes uses the basement and first floor and Bridge Club the second and third floors. Each has its own kitchen, staff, menu and style of service, Christensen wrote, and use use ingredients sourced from local and regional farmers and food producers.

Death & Taxes seats about 60 and serves wood-fired foods such as chicken liver toast, marrow bones, dry-aged steak and roasted oysters that Christensen says “was the first dish I imagined putting on the menu.”

Prices range from about $10 for potatoes aligot (mashed potatoes blended with cheese) to about $35 for whole fish and stewed tomatoes.

Bridge Club and Aux will help increase efficiency at her wealth of restaurants that include Chuck’s, Joule Coffee and Beasley’s Chicken + Honey.

Aux commissary kitchen “has been monumental for maintaining our standards across all of our properties,” she wrote. “In regard to Death & Taxes specifically, we’re buying whole animals and butchering them down into cuts ourselves. All of that prep and storage is only possible to do with the space we have access to through Aux.”

And Bridge Club gives Christensen a space host private events without having to close the other places.

The space holds about 75 to 100 standing on the second floor and about 100 people seated on its third floor.

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