Bru's Public House
Photo courtesy of Raleighwood Media Group

Bourbon, Craft Cocktails and Elevated Kitchen Near PNC Arena

In December 2021/January 2022, Eat, Web Exclusive by Matt Lardie1 Comment

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WEB EXCLUSIVE Bru’s Public House brings elevated food and spirits to Raleigh’s relatively resto/bar void PNC Arena area.

If you live in or around PNC Arena and Carter-Finley (or frequent the area)—then you know. Despite its prominent location and abundance of living ops, the area isn’t exactly teeming with hot spots and cool hangouts. And nary a neat bourbon drink in sight. Until now.

Enter Bru’s Public House, an elevated bar and restaurant that opened in the fall in the former Honest Abe’s space at Wade Park, bringing residents, locals and game-/concertgoers alike a place to post up for a craft cocktail (perhaps a Dark and Stormy before a Canes game?) or bourbon (the space has a dedicated bourbon cocktail menu).

Owner Denise O’Dwyer—who also owns fan fave Cary’s RallyPoint Sport Grill—found the current Bru’s space after searching for several years for a space to open a new dining concept that was a slight step above the sports bar vibe of RallyPoint. 

After closing on the space this past June, she and her team embarked on an extensive full gut reno, transforming the pizza and burger joint that was Honest Abe’s into an atmosphere that is both accessible and elevated. 

“We were looking for something casual, laid back,” explains O’Dwyer. There was extensive painting, the addition of brick facades, and a complete overhaul of the lighting system in order to achieve the vibe O’Dwyer wanted.

While RallyPoint is explicitly a sports bar, Bru’s combines the best aspects of a pub with a nod to area sports fans, especially given the proximity of PNC Arena and Carter-Finley Stadium. “We’re not really a sports bar,” says O’Dwyer, “but we wanted to be able to show the Hurricanes and the NC State games.”

The menu also reflects the upscale-meets-casual vibe—O’Dwyer notes that one of the most popular items so far has been the short rib sliders, a recipe developed in the kitchen at RallyPoint while Bru’s underwent renovations. The sliders are served with pickled red onions and jalapenos on mini pretzel buns and come three to an order. Other menu highlights include poutine, mozzarella arancini and Bru’s Adult Grilled Cheese, described as “an array of cheeses” between Texas toast, served with tomato bisque. Essentially, childhood nostalgia at its finest.

Now, as O’Dwyer and her team continue to navigate the challenges of opening and running a new restaurant during the pandemic, she remains grateful for the support the Wade Park neighborhood has shown.

“It’s been wonderful,” she says, reflecting on the first few months of the restaurant’s life, noting that the Wade Park neighborhood has been incredibly supportive.

O’Dwyer has plans to expand hours once she can hire the appropriate number of staff, but for now Bru’s is open for lunch and dinner Monday through Saturday (11am–10pm)—and look for the restaurant to open on Sunday’s in the near future. 

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