A block in a thriving urban neighborhood. A 1920s brick warehouse that once served as the Carolina Coach bus depot. A cultural shift in how we eat, drink and interact.
These are the elements that will converge when Transfer Company, downtown Raleigh’s long-anticipated food hall, retail center and events hub, holds its grand opening next month. More than five years in the making, developer Jason Queen and team financed renovations of the 43,000 square foot indoor space, known as Stone’s Warehouse, and 7,000 square feet in adjacent outdoor parcels, through a combination of state and federal tax credits and loan programs.
“It’s been cool to see the building come back to life,” Queen says. “Slowly, in the next couple of months, the public will see the renovation and the building like it used to be.”
The existing historic buildings at 500 East Davie Street will house 15 anchor tenants in the main food hall, including a mix of food and drink vendors, plus rotating retailers selling handmade goods and other products weekly. Production facilities for Videri Chocolate Factory and Burial Beer Co. are located off of the main food hall along East Street, and are set to be fully operational this summer. A commercial grocery store and four tenants will go into a new building behind the warehouse, slated to open in late 2020, and 15 townhomes lining the property’s eastern perimeter along Chavis Way will be finished and sold by the end of this year.
Queen says he had only one expectation of the tenants he recruited for Transfer Company: They be the area’s best of the best.
“Ultimately, we wanted the top three vendors within their own subcategory within the food industry,” he explains. “So, if we couldn’t get one of the top three bakers in the Triangle, then we don’t do a bakery at all. We got really lucky and we did attract the best in the Triangle in any single category that we went for.”
Inherent to the renovation process was a commitment that the final product be something that the surrounding community could collectively be proud to take ownership of, while integrating into the fabric of the neighborhood without replicating any of its existing assets.
This commitment informed decisions around everything from parking—at some 50 spaces, there’ll be less of it in order to avoid breaking up the block, and to encourage people to walk from their homes, apartments and nearby parking decks—to the curated tenant mix to providing space for families, neighborhood meetings and community gatherings, for instance, in the new plaza and mezzanine areas.
“My big goal with Transfer Company is that I want it to be a constant celebration of food, knowledge and community,” says Nick Neptune, the food hall’s general manager. “It’s one layer after another to wrap your mind around what it means to be a part of that.”
The food aspect is straightforward, but constantly celebrating community and knowledge took some thinking through. Transfer Company’s design capitalizes on a cultural shift in how we have come to socialize and interact with one another in a way that’s more open, communal and connection-driven.
“There’s an innovation component to what we’re doing,” Queen says. “Innovation occurs with the transfer of knowledge across industries to people. Our role in that is to develop a space that maximizes the opportunity for the transfer of knowledge by developing a space that maximizes chances for social interaction. You make longer tables, have people sit together and, all of a sudden, there’s an opportunity for knowledge transfer and the creation of innovative products.”
To illustrate his point, Queen has an example at the ready. There’s a beer that Transfer Company tenant Burial brewed, mashed with spelt from fellow tenant Boulted Bread. A chai imperial stout, it’s called “The Crown of Divination,” and has notes of nutmeg, cinnamon, black tea, ginger and cardamon. It’s “a righteous crusade,” Burial’s website states, “upon a pathway divined by the hand of the supernatural.”
And, at 10 percent ABV, it’s a knowledge transfer that goes straight to your head.
Could anything be more Raleigh?
Transfer Company Vendors
Sweet Peas Urban Gardens
Grows and sells more than 55 certified, naturally grown microgreens and vegetable shoots produced in Raleigh.
Chef Jae Lee creates Izakaya street-style food featuring a special combination of Asian flavors.
The third NC location for chef-inspired tacos, burritos and bowls. Using flavorful bases that vary from Asian pulled-pork to shaved ribeye, Dank Burrito creates unique combinations that make for stunning results, including house-made salsas and pico with toppings like ginger slaw, kimchi and dank yum yum sauce.
Captain Cookie & The Milkman
Just what the name says: freshly baked cookies, local milk and ice cream sandwiches. The owners are UNC graduates who have two brick-and-mortar locations in Washington, D.C. This will be their first in North Carolina.
Authentic Indian street food from the owners of Cary’s Biryani Maxx, Chhote’s will make you think you traveled around the world to Mumbai.
Che Empanadas (open now)
Owner Anabel Rossbach is finally making her adored Argentinian pastries available to the masses. Fan favorites include Carne Dulce, the basil-filled Caprese and the traditional Jamon y Queso.
Wood-fired bagels and slammin’ coffee from the owners of Jubala Coffee and Boulted Bread. Need we say more?
Locals Oyster Bar (open now)
Another masterful collaboration between Person Street Bar and Locals Seafood. Order a drink and dine in on fresh fish and steamed shellfish, or buy a fresh catch in the seafood market to take home.
Videri Chocolate Factory
A longtime resident of the Warehouse District Videri is expanding and will offer chocolate inspired desserts and pastries.
Burial Beer Co. (open now)
Known for crafting a range of beers from Belgian-inspired ales to bold American styles in Asheville. This location will sell core beers but also offer special bottle and can releases, as well as a draft selection of experiential, small-batch beers.