New businesses change downtown Raleigh streetscape

Posted August 11, 2014 4:22 p.m. EDT
Updated August 11, 2014 7:15 p.m. EDT

— Downtown Raleigh is on pace to eclipse last year's business development in just three quarters. Through Monday, 19 new street-level businesses had opened, one shy of the 20 opened in 2013.

In the second quarter alone, Raleigh added four places to eat: Restaurants DeMo's Pizzeria and Raleigh Sundries and Deli and casual eateries Happy + Hale and Bittersweet Cafe.

Brett Wells is working to add his gourmet hot dog shop, Tasty 8's, to that mix.

"We have the first garage door on Fayetteville Street," he said.

Wells is taking a chance on an idea hatched while he worked as a dentist. 

"I figure that I'm still kind of young, and now is the time in life to take a risk," he said. 

Wells is not alone. 

Another 11 street-level business are slated to open in the third quarter, including a new venture by restaurateur Ashley Christensen called Death and Taxes, a downtown outpost of Shucker’s Oyster Bar and a craft beer and bottle shop called Stag's Head. In all, $375 million in construction is underway in the central business district. 

That's a trend that makes Bill King, of the Downtown Raleigh Alliance, smile. 

"They create vibrancy in an area. That's really what's important," King said. "We're trying to make downtown Raleigh into a place where people want to live, work and play."

King said businesses naturally follow the growth of downtown residents. All those people filling up the apartments and condos built over the past decade are a draw for businesses on the cutting edge.

At Arrow, owner Pete Phipps is offering a stepped-up barbershop experience.  

"We want people to have fun when they are having a haircut," he said.

Arrow offers each customer a free beer with their cut. 

The model is such a success that Phipps opened a second shop on Hargett Street just a month ago.

He's high on downtown Raleigh.

"It's clear to everybody that it's going in the right direction," he said. "We just want to ride the wave."