Friday, January 14, 2011

Friday Fun Food Facts - January 14, 2011

Triangle restaurant news...that not everyone knows. Impress your co-workers at the water cooler.

  • We start out this week in The Quay - Fuquay-Varina to be exact. Looks like they are getting a new restaurant next month - Aviator Smokehouse Barbecue Restaurant - which is an extension of the very successful Aviator Brewing Company launched by Mark Doble. We'll keep you posted once we get an exact open date.
  • Tham Nguyen has announced that he will open his third Triangle-area restaurant in April. Nguyen owns Tasu Asian Bistro and Sushi Bar in Brier Creek (near the Chick-fil-A) and Shiki Sushi in Durham. His third location will open in April in the former Bentely's restaurant location in Cary's Crossroads. That restaurant will also be Tasu Asian Bistro and Sushi Bar.
  • The last retail space in downtown Raleigh's City Plaza has been filled, and by a tenant familiar with downtown Raleigh - Crema. Located in the Bank of America building, getting a cup of mocha just got a little easier.
  • The N&O's Sue Stock is reporting this morning that Sushi Nine has opened at 3812 Western Blvd. in Raleigh. That is the location next to McDonald's and across the way from Amedeo's Italian Restaurant.
  • Listen up kids (and moms and dads). Downtown Apex's 3 Kids Diner and General Store reopened back in December at 775 Center Street. Its initial opening in 2009 only lasted about 5 months, but those that enjoyed a kid-friendly breakfast or lunch there will be excited about this news.
  • Over in Durham, Red Zen has opened on Durham Chapel Hill Blvd. after owner Freddy Lee remodeled the former Pao Lim. Interesting twist, Lee was the original owner of Pao Lim before selling it about 8 years ago. Fans of Pao Lim will recognize some of the more popular dishes on the Red Zen menu.
  • Up in North Raleigh, Bedford Sushi and Grill hosted an "Open House" last Friday, but haven't been able to confirm that they are 100% open for business. Will keep you posted.
  • Over in Durham, in the little shopping center at the Intersection of Hwy. 54 & 55, the Treehouse CafĂ© has opened in the former location of The Clay Pit. At this point, I can't tell you much more than that - not much information out there on them.
  • Also in Durham, there is a new chef at The Federal (Main Street in Durham) and Carpe Durham (a Durham food blog) is reporting favorable feedback on the specials being turned out. Worth a visit.
  • Back in December we told you about the restaurant Blue opening up in downtown Raleigh on Davie Steet. Word is that they are now changing their name from Blue to Tuscan Blu. Initial reviews out of the gate are extremely strong.
  • Welcome to Moe's! Looks like the menu at Moe's will get an update in about two weeks. Don't worry, you can still get a Joey Bag of Donuts, it is just that the ingredients will change...for the better. The new menu will feature grass-fed and grain-fed beef, pork and chicken, as well as organic and gluten-free products. The chicken will be hormone-free and the steak will be sirloin. Moe's has nine locations in the immediate Triangle area.
  • In our "bummer" news of the week, Sammi's La Piazza Ristorante Pizzeria in North Raleigh (Bedford community) has officially closed its doors. Best to owner Gianni Cinelli. And over in Hillsborough, Tupelo's has closed their doors after a 10-year run. But word on the street is that the restaurant was sold and will reopen as something else. No word yet as to what that is.
  • In the "that's pretty cool" file this week, I read that Subway is waiving the franchise fee ($15,000) for any honorably discharged veteran who wishes to open a Subway restaurant on a government or military installation. In addition, the franchise fee will be reduced by 50 percent for any veteran opening a Subway restaurant at any non-military or non-government location. That's cool.
  • I often get a little frustrated, as I don't think people have an appreciation for the level of cuisine we are able to enjoy here in the Triangle. I'm glad someone in New York agrees with me. So much so, that a handful of restaurants in Durham landed the city on the New York Times list of the 41 places to visit in 2011 (41 places in the WORLD!!!). Pretty impressive and congratulations to the following restaurants that were specifically mentioned in that list: Scratch, Parker & Otis, Rue Cler, Counter Culture Coffee and Revolution. Here's a neat little article about it in The Independent.
  • Don't forget that the last week in January is Triangle Restaurant Week. This is a great opportunity to get out and try some places you've never been, but always wanted to go. Great prices and special menus are on tap for the week January 24-30th. Check out the most up-to-date listings here.
  • And finally, it is not too early to start thinking about a nice Valentine's dinner. The N&O's Greg Cox has got you covered and has put together a list of "romantic" spots for the big holiday. Check it out here.


  1. In your bummer news you lament the closing of Sammi's and owner Gianni Cinelli. Ever consider lamenting the number of suppliers, property managers and ex-employees he's ripped off! Wait what about his investors who's money he's lost again and again on!

    Look at the track record and landlords stiffed - Wakefield closed, Wake Forest Rocco's closed, Creedmoor Rd closed, Triangle Town Center, Tony C's TenTen Rd closed! All in the middle of the night exits with past due rents.

    Oh, maybe it was that sexual harassment EEOC lawsuit in 2007. $90K pay out but with attorney fees had to cost him well over $150K. With his latest Sammi's facebook and twitter posting he was at his best blaming everyone else; ditto Tony C's.

  2. What happened to the empire...did they really screw it up or was it all the things Gianni said. He seem to blame everyone.