Published: The News & Observer , February 27,
Two eateries to move in downtown
RALEIGH -- Two vacant buildings in the downtown warehouse district
will soon see new life as restaurants.
The first will be at a former railroad depot on Davie Street. Two
Durham partners have leased about a third of the former depot for
a restaurant called Pop's Chop House and plan to begin serving Italian
entrees and steaks, chops and pork plates in late September.
And across Davie Street in an old meat-packing plant, Bart Bonbrest,
the general manager at Sullivan's steakhouse, and three partners
will open an Italian restaurant called Buonfresco. The restaurant
should open in November serving what Bonbrest calls "authentic
modern Italian cuisine" that will include fresh seafood, homemade
pastas, wood-fired pizzas and entrees.
Both sets of restaurant owners were drawn to the area for its potential
as an entertainment hub.
" I think if you really put your visionary hat on, this area
has some great attributes," Bonbrest said, whose restaurant
is going into space renovated by downtown developer Greg Hatem.
Bonbrest said he picked the space because it reminded him of the
lively Georgetown area of Washington.
Both restaurants are less than three blocks from a planned light-rail
station that is expected to help rejuvenate the area.
" We saw that building two and a half years ago and we thought
it would be a good revival of downtown," said Gonzalo Munoz,
a partner in the Chop House. "We're excited about being close
to Progress Energy, the new convention center, and we think the
warehouse district will expand toward us."
Munoz referred to Progress Energy's plan for a $100 million headquarters
expansion just off Fayetteville Street Mall and a new convention
center site recommended this week about a block from the old depot.
Munoz is general manager of Pop's restaurant in Durham. His partner
in the new restaurant is Scott Howell, owner of Pop's and also Nana's
restaurant in Durham.
The partners are opening their restaurant in a vintage building
that stretches nearly a city block from Davie Street to Cabarrus
Street. Long-sought by downtown developers, it has a loading dock
with 13 big wooden doors on the western side. The roof of the one-story
building is supported by massive timbers. The adjacent parking area
is paved with cobblestones.
Built by Southern Railway in 1920, the depot has been vacant since
an insulation company moved out about five years ago. It is owned
by the N.C. Railroad, which is completing a $2 million renovation
of the building.
The partners plan more renovations costing $400,000, to provide
seating for 150 customers and a full-service saloon, Munoz said.
Another attraction is the building's 60 parking spaces, he said.
About 10,000 square feet of the building is still vacant and available
for lease, said Scott Saylor, the railroad's president and general
" We're real excited to have a tenant like this to anchor
the building, and it will do a lot for redevelopment of that part
of downtown," Saylor said.
The building is across the tracks from the city's Amtrak station,
which recently had a $500,000 renovation and expansion. Developers
have also proposed a luxury 62-unit condominium project a block
away off Harrington Street, but that is on hold.Copyright 2003 by