Durham is officially the tastiest town in the South. Last week Southern Living declared the Bull City as one of the hottest foodie destinations in the nation, citing classic locales such as Geer Street Garden and new favorites that include Cocoa Cinnamon and Scratch Bakery.
That list continues to grow. Two new spots for foodies to look forward to this summer are The Pit and Rose’s Meat Market and Sweet Shop.
In the past year, there have been a number of restaurants and local businesses that have opened in renovated Durham buildings. Five Points, for example, is now home to Pizzeria Toro and The Cupcake Bar. As part of this greater downtown Durham revival, developer Greg Hatem of Empire Eats Restaurants is opening his first establishment outside of Raleigh. Serving up authentic NC barbecue, The Pit will be located in the old 7 Up bottling plant on Rigsbee Avenue.
“I like Durham. We’ve been familiar with Durham for years—decades. [Our move into Durham] seemed like a natural progression,” said Hatem.
Justin and Katie Meddis, the husband-wife team opening Rose’s, decided to start the joint meat-pastry shop to make their respective work schedules as a meat chef and pastry chef more compatible. As for their decision to relocate to Durham, Justin acknowledges the local food scene, a prominent aspect of Durham living. “There are a lot of local farms, and the Triangle has a large interest in local and sustainable goods. We want to make those goods more accessible to our customers,” said Justin.
For the Meddis duo, it all fits into the larger picture of nourishing a sustainable, thriving downtown Durham.
“We only buy meat raised sustainably on North Carolina farms. Supporting the local economy is our biggest goal,” said Justin.
Rose’s butcher shop will serve raw cuts and other products made only from whole animals that Justin and Katie buy themselves. The two are currently still raising the funds for the refrigeration needed to hang and store their meat. For various amounts on their Kickstarter page, donors can get anything from a sandwich to a hands on pastry workshop.
There has been some concern from Durham locals over how the opening of larger restaurants such as The Pit will affect the current food scene. In particular there is some uncertainty as to where local food trucks regularly stationed outside on Rigsbee Avenue, where the Pit will be located, will go. In response, Hatem has provided some clarity of vision for downtown Durham.
“We love food trucks. Clearly in front of the restaurant there won’t be food trucks, but other than that I don’t see there being much change. And what’s a better way to bring and keep people downtown than having good restaurants?”
Food, and especially food in Durham, as Hatem notes, has the simple power of building and enlivening a community.
“It’s kind of interesting, the power of barbecue.” Hatem’s uncle spent nearly 50 years in China as a doctor without once coming home to visit. When he finally returned to his family near the end of his life, his only request was for an authentic meal of NC barbecue.
The development of both The Pit and Rose’s Meat Market and Sweet Shop are on schedule, so thankfully we won’t have to wait 50 years to taste their foodie delights.
Rose’s Meat Market and Sweet Shop will be opening in June at 121 North Gregson Street. The Pit’s new Durham location will open this July on Rigsbee Avenue right next to Fullsteam Brewery.