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Six foodie faves have stood the test of time. Here, we dig into their secret sauce.
42nd Street Oyster Bar
42nd Street really took the “the world is your oyster” sentiment to heart. Originally opened as a grocery store in 1927 in its former location, the time-tested pearl of a Raleigh resto started offering steamed oysters in 1931—and, after Prohibition ended in 1933, was the first place to start serving beer in the area (!). Reestablished in 1987 by the late Thad Eure Jr. and partners, 42nd Street became Raleigh’s premier dining destination for fresh seafood, high-quality drinks and an all-around exceptional dining experience—one that remains steadfast almost 100 years later and keeps Raleighites flocking—er, swarming?—to the hot spot to this day. In addition to the oysters and seafood (“seafood any fresher would still be in the ocean” …), the high-end shuck shack has managed to stand the test of time thanks to its “consistency, customer service, quality of food, and the family-oriented feel that our guests have while dining with us,” says GM Hunter Correll—NTM its retro facade and interior that truly makes you feel like you’re taking a step back in time. 42ndstoysterbar.com
Clyde Cooper’s Barbeque
One of the longest-standing ’cue joints in Raleigh, Clyde Cooper’s opened Downtown in 1938 and has been serving the same delicious meats (pigs and cows and chicks—oh, my!), with some occasional updates, ever since. “We’ve survived this long because we refuse to give up,” says Ashley Jessup of the restaurant, which she co-owns with her mom, Debbie Wray (who, Jessup says “gives the restaurant everything she’s got”). Cooper’s original recipes have been passed down for almost 85 years (with only three owners to date—all of whom were close). “Our clean, authentic, Eastern Carolina-style BBQ is unique because we want the meat to speak for itself—and then the sauce,” says Jessup. In essence, they lead the pack with a trifecta of style, atmosphere and food. It’s that quality and novelty that keeps Raleighites (and out-of-towners) coming back for more—NTM Clyde’s “all are welcome” vibe. “What Cooper’s brought to Raleigh in 1938 was a sense of welcomeness to all regardless of your skin color,” says Jessup. “Clyde said one person’s money was just as green as the next, so everyone was equal.” Cue the awws. clydecoopersbbq.com
United Restaurant Equipment Company
Without supplies there is no secret sauce (and never has that rang truer than in a #supplyshortage). Enter the backbone business propping up our community’s best and brightest. Opened in 1952 by Jesse Margulies to fill a void in the market (“There wasn’t much at the time in terms of restaurant equipment in the area—but there really weren’t many restaurants either,” says Alisha Dreese, Jesse’s niece, who now runs the biz in tandem with Jesse’s son Howard Margulies and his son Eric Margulies), the family-owned DTR mainstay that runs on customer service and loyalty has been crucial to our evolving culinary scene ever since. “I think the secret to our lasting a long time is based solely on relationships,” says Dreese. “We partner with our customers to make sure they can grow and flourish and be successful. Food is what creates culture and a destination—and it’s what’s helped put Raleigh and Durham on the map. We love being a part of that.” ureco.com
When Kanki opened its doors in 1972—in conjunction with the Crabtree Valley Mall opening—it was one of the only locally owned restaurants in the area (and, fun fact, the first resto in Raleigh to serve sushi!). Founder Sam Longiotti—who, before opening Kanki and Crabtree, was a local developer—had experienced Benihana during his travels, and “as an early adopter of things,” says partial owner Mike Ciampa, Longiotti had the foresight to blaze trails and change the foodscape in Raleigh by opening his own hibachi-style concept in the mall (and later expanding to a second location on Old Wake Forest Road).
Fifty years later, it’s no question the concept’s literal flare and teppanyaki chef flair (where else do they throw shrimp in your mouth or make volcanoes out of onions?), not to mention its lean into large-party accommodations, has lit up local celebrations for decades—from birthdays and anniversaries to proms, graduations, reunions, business dinners and more. And after five decades in a city that is quickly amassing some of the country’s best chefs and concepts, the spot remains relevant as a go-to “celebration restaurant”—as Mike and his wife Vittoria (also a partial owner and the daughter of Longiotti) call it.
It’s the flourish and splendor of it all that makes Kanki the ideal spot to celebrate (hence the original slogan, “the best-tasting show in town”), and what keeps people coming back year after year. “The fact that it is a special occasion, people remember it,” says Vittoria. Mike adds that part of Kanki’s success is also being a generational event—they have many returning customers who would come in yearly for their birthday growing up, and now they’re bringing in their own kids to carry on the family tradition.
“People who come in for their birthday will make a reservation with a [particular] chef because they know them and they see them every year for things,” says Vittoria. “People have just gotten personal with it and have good memories there.” Cheers to the next 50 years. kanki.com
To celebrate its 50th, Kanki is hosting a throwback retro ’70s-themed party in September featuring original menu items from 1972 (!).
Margaux’s may do things the old-fashioned way—but that’s exactly how it’s managed to maintain its loyal following for 30 years now. To owner Steve Horowitz (aka a “founding father” of the fine-dining establishment), that means no cutting corners—cooking everything from scratch, greeting guests with a smile, keeping pricing realistic and fair. “We never, ever gouge the guest since we want them to return,” he says. And return they do—regularly. As a matter of fact, Horowitz says they’ve even had guests who came into the restaurant as kids go on to work there and then come back for their rehearsal dinners. “We’ve had folks who’ve had christenings here, proms, wedding rehearsals, baby showers, marriages, engagements, divorces, death parties. … We’ve seen it all in 30 years,” he recalls. “We always call it #MakingMemories here.” It’s what gives Margaux’s its Cheers-esque vibe—that no matter what new trendy restaurant opens in town, people always come back for. “We’re a hustling, bustling Southern metropolis,” says Horowitz. “It’s really what we were from the first day we opened, and we’ve been busy ever since.” margauxsrestaurant.com
’Tis the season for Margaux’s annual Lobster Fest! “It’s like a lobster orgy,” says Horowitz of the June 22 fan-fave event. Let’s get crackin’, Raleigh. Reservation only, margauxsrestaurant.com
You almost have to wonder when Second Empire was dubbed if they knew they were building an empire. Opened by Ted Reynolds, and now owned and operated by his daughter Kim Reynolds alongside executive chef Daniel Schurr, the award-winning longtime special-occasion sup spot that sits in the historical Dodd-Hinsdale House on Hillsborough Street has not only survived the years, but has thrived by offering several levels of service—from fine dining to more elevated-casual. “When we opened 25 years ago, we had a goal in mind of bringing fine dining to Downtown—which was not here—and in a very beautiful building that we renovated,” says Kim. The secret sauce? Put simply: “Ownership, staff, the house, the food,” says Schurr. “We’ve just always done what we do,” adds Kim. Beyond owning their lane, they’ve remained in tune with the community they serve—and have evolved with that community over time. Like recently transforming its Tavern into a new sofa-, chair- and table-dotted cocktail lounge—perf for an après- or post-dinner tipple. NTM the delectable new menu. Or pristine service. And while continuing to satisfy the ultimate dining experience, Second Empire now sits at the center of construction in a city that is growing faster than any of us can keep up. “It’s like the movie Up,” laughs Kim. “The little guy with his house right in the middle of all this construction going on… and there’s construction all around here—40-story buildings going up, and we’re the little historic building in the middle, which is a good thing.” What a tribute to an empire when a city builds around you. second-empire.com
EST. 1963 *
Hayes Barton Cafe
Raleigh Wine Shop
Tabletop Media Group
*Celebrated anniversary last year or are celebrating next year
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