As the rebirth of downtown Durham and its fringe continues, two familiar food operations are about to get new identities, while three locations north of the Loop on West Geer Street are either searching for new tenants or waiting for the right buyer.
Old reliables Joe & Jo's, Fowler's and King's Sandwich Shop are gone, as makeovers and new concepts become part of the accelerating downtown real-estate market. Here are a few updates:
In mid-May, Parker and Otis will open in the space formerly occupied by Fowler's Fine Food & Wine Store at 112 S. Duke St.
The "Parker" in Parker and Otis is the last name of owner and general manager Jennings Brody's grandmother. Otis is her 10-year-old pug.
The Fowler's tradition will continue with two twists: a general-use grocery and lots of candy.
"We'll have a ton of candy ... over 100 varieties," said Brody. Think fine chocolate seasoned with ginger or chocolate made from high-grade cocoa milk with Himalaya sea salt and Tibetean goji berries. Gummi bears and truffles will be stocked, as well.
In addition to the gourmet offerings of olive oil, balsamic vinegar, jams, pasta and sauces, the store will cater to downtown inhabitants with the basics: milk from Maple View Farm, juice, fresh vegetables and other necessities. The wine selection will remain about the same, but the beer brands will be expanded.
Breakfast and lunch continue with a 20-item menu. The butcher shop has been closed. Counter Culture Coffee will be sold.
Brody has lived in the area for eight years, managing Foster's Market in Chapel Hill and working for a gourmet food distributor.This Bull brings some Irish flavor
The Bull McCabe's, 427 W. Main St., opens in a week or two contingent upon issuing of final licenses for the space formerly occupied by Joe & Jo's Downtown.
The 25-item menu offers Irish, American and Southern cuisine with a bar featuring 20 beers on tap. Traditional Irish fare of shepherd's pie, bangers and mash (link sausage and potatoes), and fish and chips will mix with burgers, steak, pasta, chicken, wraps and sandwiches. The beer brands include Guinness, Harp and Smithwick's.
The restaurant is named after the lead character in the 1990 Oscar-nominated movie "The Field." The Bull McCabe's owner/operator, Malachy Noone, ticks off the progressive variations on the bull theme by which he arrived at the restaurant's name: "Bull Durham. The Durham Bulls. Bull McCabe."
A native of Sligo, Ireland, Noone has trolled rural North Carolina, Virginia and upstate New York to assemble an interior that includes: four 6-foot stained-glass church windows; 70-year-old, 4-foot wide rectangular tube lighting from a church; and a 120-year-old, 20-foot long oak bar. The restaurant will seat 86 people.The wait-and-see approach
The empty King's Sandwich Shop on the northwest corner of Foster and Geer streets is waiting for the right price in a rising real-estate market.
"People are speculating, which is why we are going to hang on," said Gregory High of Fayetteville, one of three family members who owns the property.
The hotdog stand closed in December, ending a tradition that began shortly after World War II when High's father and uncle opened the shop. Over time there have been other operators.
The concrete-block building of about 450 square feet sits on 0.7 acres and has attracted several offers. Nearby properties that were once thought to be dowdy are now pricey.
At the turn of the year, the 0.47-acre Nu-Tread property at Foster and Corporation streets sold for $757,500. The tax value was listed at $340,771.
"We're probably going to sell it," High said. "We're studying it. We'll probably know in December what we're going to do with it."Neighborhood necessities may come after renovations are finished
Across the street on the north side of the 400 block of West Geer Street, developer Bob Chapman has targeted October as the completion date for the renovation of two buildings whose uses could range from a deli to art gallery to grocery store.
The former gas station on the northeast corner of Foster and Geer will soon assume the look of a 1948 Texaco station. The 1,066-square-foot structure has a new roof. The brick work has been exposed with the idea of landing a coffee shop and deli in the space.
The two-story, 18,600-square-foot former printing plant at 410 W. Geer St. is receiving a makeover. Twelve windows have been slashed in the cinder block structure. Bow arches have been exposed in the interior.
"The neighborhood is thinking about a grocery store," said Chapman, managing partner of TND Partners.
"It's a wonderful place for art galleries and studios. We will solicit proposals from the community. We want something that will be an asset to the community."