Local News

Downtown Raleigh Restaurant Meets Growth Challenges Head-On

Posted March 13, 2006 10:03 a.m. EST

— Raleigh's Glenwood South just keeps on growing.

"When we first opened, there were only a handful of restaurants in the area," said 518 West Italian Cafe restaurant manager Derek Owen.

That was nine years ago. Since then, Glenwood South's growth has received national attention with a New York Times feature article.

At least five projects are currently on the drawing board or approved, including one that will eliminate the 518 West parking lot.

"We do see it as a positive sign for the continued revitalization of, not only Glenwood South, but Raleigh in general," Owen said.

But with the gains comes loss -- at least temporarily. Construction on a mixed-use high-rise building is scheduled to begin in the next 30 days, eliminating the restaurant's parking lot.

But it's not the big picture Owen is worried about. It's the immediate one.

"We do anticipate a rough road over the next 12 to 18 months," Owen said.

Growing pains aren't new to Glenwood South, but 518 West is taking a new approach to the area's growth -- a proactive one.

They're handing out pamphlets to customers, both giving information about parking and getting feedback.

"We've really seen a mixed bag of comments from our customers," Owen said.

The pamphlets are also getting the word out about the free parking deck across the street, and a free valet service that the restaurant will start offering next Monday.