As a student at UNC-Chapel Hill in the early 2000s, Wyatt Dickson would cook whole hogs on rented equipment for fraternity brothers and football games.
Over the years, he “stepped up his game,” he said, working to perfect his barbecuing technique – one he taught himself – using a pig cooker his dad gave him for his 21st birthday and non-factory, non-commodity pigs raised on pastures.
“I’ve been ‘the guy I know who cooked the pig for a lot of people,’” Dickson said.
And now he’ll be using that technique to cook whole hogs for a lot more people at Picnic, a roadside barbecue joint he’s opening with Ben Adams, a chef and former fraternity brother Dickson reconnected with when they both worked, lived and developed a fondness for food in New York.
The restaurant will be in a standalone building along Cole Mill Road in Durham, which is “kind of perfect for what we’re trying to do,” said Adams, former chef at Piedmont.
Picnic will offer dishes such as fried chicken marinated in cold-smoked buttermilk, then rolled in a spiced flour and cornstarch breading; fried fresh fish; whole hog barbecue using pigs sourced from Green Button Farm, a Bahama farm co-owned by Dickson and Adams’ third partner, Ryan Butler.
Adams says the place will get chickens from a few different farms as a way to balance using local products with maintaining low prices that he can pass along to the customers. Sourcing local chickens can be expensive, he said, and would mean Picnic could have to charge $25 or more for a fried chicken plate.
“We will source what I feel will be a fair compromise,” Adams said. “They will be from (farms in) North Carolina and the Carolinas that don’t use antibiotics or hormones.”
Dickson has created a barbecue sauce he calls “the great Carolina compromise,” a mix of the Western and Eastern North Carolina styles that has a vinegar base and a bit of tomato.
Sides will be traditional barbecue staples such as collards, mac and cheese, and cole slaw, along with others – like succotash, tomato salad, squash, fried okra, sweet potatoes and beets – that will change based on the season. Picnic will also have small plates of Brunswick stew, locally driven soups and salads.
Picnic will have two slushy machines behind the bar that will be used to make frozen, slushy liquor drinks out of pretty much anything. Adams says they’ll start with a dark and stormy, which consists of dark rum and ginger beer, and a frozen Negroni with gin, vermouth and Campari.
The bar will also have eight beers on tap, including some locals, and have a wine list of about 20 to 30 wines and some sparkling wines.
Prices will range from about $10 to about $20, with most items being around $15, Adams said.
Picnic’s owners plan to open the place by the end of the year. In the meantime, Dickson and Adams are hosting a pop-up dinner as a way to have some fun and get their brand and food out to the masses.
Fried Chicken and Bubbles starts at 6 p.m. Friday, and will offer Picnic’s smoked-buttermilk fried chicken, cole slaw and a chilled field pea and corn salad. Adams says they’ll have enough to feed about 80 and will be around until they’re sold out.
The pop-up will be set up outside of RX Wine Lab, Fried Chicken and Bubbles’ event partner.
Food will be packaged to-go. Customers can eat there or inside Carrboro Coffee or at RX, which will also be serving wine. Prices will be $15 for a fried chicken platter with sides, $10 for a glass of wine, $35 for a bottle and $15 for a flight of three wines.
Fried Chicken and Bubbles will be at the Golden Belt at 807 E. Main St. in Durham. Picnic will be at 1647 Cole Mill Road.
Rise Biscuits and Doughnuts opens its first franchise Friday in Morrisville. The restaurant will have the same menu as the original Rise in Durham, but introduce a unique biscuit and doughnut each month. Its grand opening weekend will include free doughnuts Friday from noon until 2 p.m. On Saturday, the store will be open from 7 a.m. until 2 p.m, and 25 percent of sales will be donated to local schools. Rise is at 1100 Market Center Drive.
Yoga studio chain CorePower Yoga is opening its first North Carolina location in Raleigh’s Cameron Village in October.
The 5,500-square-foot space will have two studios and men’s and women’s locker rooms, and will offer four types of classes: CorePower 1, CorePower 2, hot power fusion and yoga sculpt.
CorePower, which plans to open four more studios in the state within the next year, will be at 435 Woodburn Road, next to Ajisai Japanese Fusion restaurant.
SunComm, which offers mobile phones, repairs, service and accessories, has opened a kiosk at Northgate Mall in Durham, across from Champs. The mall is at 1058 W. Club Blvd. ... Kickboxing gym franchise 9Round is opening a facility at 8111 Rowlock Way in North Raleigh on Aug. 27.