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Nicholaus M. Neptune is an artist, educator, entrepreneur and community advocate currently serving as the managing director of Transfer Company Food Hall, Ballroom and Work Hall, a former partner and co-founder of Raleigh’s shared creative studio The Assembly and owner behind the music, entertainment and consulting firm Good Times Assurance Company.
For more than 15 years, Neptune’s work has been defined by the constant celebration, building and strengthening of community and culture through music, art, food and play. In 2020, Raleigh Magazine recognized his longtime community work by including him in our “30 in their 30s” feature as one who’s working “hard for positive change … to make life better for everyone in the city.”
Neptune currently serves as an appointed commissioner with the City of Raleigh’s Bicycle and Pedestrian Advisory Commission and is a board member with the Wake Tech Community College Foundation.
This September, he begins coursework in an executive program in social innovation and design, a joint program organized by the University of Pennsylvania’s Weitzman School of Design and its School of Social Policy and Practice.
Where’s your hometown: Winston-Salem. Home to the University of North Carolina School of the Arts (where my youngest sister is currently pursuing a degree in filmmaking and animation), Winston-Salem State University, Wake Forest University and Forsyth Tech Community College. Winston-Salem has enjoyed a renaissance in its downtown food, beverage, music and arts scene over the last 15 years; there’s always something new to see when I return home to visit with family.
What neighborhood do you live in today: As of this writing, I’m in the middle of moving ever closer to downtown – truth be told, I’m grateful to have never lived more than 10 minutes from downtown over the last 10 years, including in Five Points, near NC State and more recently in Longview Gardens and Olde East Raleigh.
What do you love most about Raleigh: Our people, our talent, our drive – there’s this undercurrent of recognition that we’re living through a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to shape the growth and trajectory of our city. It’s truly remarkable and a privilege to be a part of this community at this time.
What book are you currently reading: Currently, I’m working through “The Geography of Opportunity,” a collection of policy papers on housing choice, affordability, racial equity and metropolitan growth and development, featuring contributions from economists, urban planners, civil rights attorneys, and, more broadly, individuals committed to expanding opportunity for populations historically denied it and improving outcomes in education, employment, safety and health for the same populations for generations to come. I’m also revisiting Christina Greene’s “Our Separate Ways” (an in-depth study of African American women and their role in sustaining the Black Freedom Movement from the 1940s through 1970s in Durham).
What are you currently listening to: Given our current times, a lot of live albums including James Brown’s “Say It Live and Loud: Live in Dallas 08.26.68,” Aretha Franklin’s “Aretha Live at Fillmore West,” The Rolling Stones’ “Get Yer Ya-Ya’s Out! The Rolling Stones in Concert” (also featuring B.B. King and Ike & Tina Turner live at Madison Square Garden), and, more recently, Sylvan Esso’s “WITH” live album. In terms of podcasts, The Daily and Still Processing from The New York Times, Podcast Raleigh with Ashton Mae Smith and Hayes Permar and WNYC’s On the Media. All are favorites and regular listens.
What’s your style mantra: Define who you want to be – despite society’s expectations – then dress accordingly.
Who are your style influencers: Architect Jordan Ryland, clothier Victor Lytvinenko and the designers Gino Reyes, Steven Smith and Judah Oechsle—all local gentlemen and friends whom I have a great deal of respect and appreciation for as it relates to their values, personal aesthetics and style. The floral designers Nikelle Orellana-Reyes, Hannah Ross Clarke, Deana Nguyen, and the recording artists Kate Rhudy and Zen Stewart are local women for whom I would say the same—impeccable tastes and values to match.
Favorite clothing labels: In an alternate universe, one where I had access to limitless resources, I’d likely wear Raf Simons, Calvin Klein, Raleigh Denim, Adidas, Champion, Patagonia and Marine Layer every day.
Boxers vs briefs: The truth is that “boxer briefs” are perfect for capturing the best of both worlds.
Local go-to shop: Though I don’t actually go shopping very much—because, again, I don’t live in an alternate universe with limitless resources—whenever I do, I deeply appreciate the selection found at Unlikely Professionals, Edge of Urge, Father & Son, Raleigh Denim and Vert & Vogue in Durham.
Where was your last great lunch: Well, it should go without saying that I’ve enjoyed countless great lunches at Transfer Company Food Hall, but when I get off campus for lunch, I can typically be found picking up (or dining outside) A Place at the Table, State of Beer, Beasley’s Chicken & Honey, lucettegrace, Capital Club 16 and Tazza Kitchen at Cameron Village.
What’s your go-to, sure thing piece in your closet: Currently, a faded green utility jacket by the San Francisco-based Marine Layer. I should mention, beyond the clean, coastal aesthetics of their clothing, I’m particularly appreciative of their commitment to sustainability.
Favorite piece of jewelry: A gold necklace my father wore throughout his 20 years of service in the U.S. Army. He gave it to me before I left for college (for good luck, as it was given to him before joining the Army) and I’ve worn it ever since.
Where are you dreaming about traveling: At the moment, given how long it’s been, I’d love to visit my family in Winston-Salem. Otherwise, I’d love to travel through South America and Africa.
How do you stay fit: I’m generally able to walk or bike wherever I need to go downtown day to day, so that’s incredibly helpful. That said, once I’ve restored some balance to my work/life schedule, I’d like to re-introduce more running, volleyball, 4-square and ultimate frisbee.
Favorite cocktail/drink: Coffee to start the day. A Greyhound or Paloma at brunch (preferably captain’s strength); whiskey in the evening (or an Admiral’s Nightcap at Transfer Co., which is generally whatever Courtney Fugate or Zach Neuman’s interpretation happens to be on any given weekend evening).
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