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Raleigh's Hayes-Barton Grill to Change with the...

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RALEIGH — It's just a drug store counter, really.But for 70 years, the Hayes Barton Grill has been a centerpiece of Raleigh'sFive Points area.

But in the past few years the area has become more upscale. And now,the grill will follow.

But when you go upscale, some people get upset. To its generations ofcustomers, the Hayes Barton Grill is more than a restaurant.It's history.

That's why when word got out that owner Bobby Lewis was changing it, thefirst reaction was "I don't know what he's gonna do, but I don't likeit."

Barbara Conley's grandmother used to run the grill. She agrees with theold-timers. "They don't like change. They want it to stay the same. Theywant to bringtheir children in here because they came here as children, and they wantit to have the same menu.

But even the look the grill has now hasn't been long standing -- this50s look was added about eight years ago, when Lewis bought the place.

Lewis promises the grill won't be overhauled, just tweaked.A new floor. Additions, not subtractions, to the menu. Better coffee.Because it's time to do something.

"This is as prime a piece of real estate as there is in Raleigh, justlook at the cars that come by here every minute. So if you own arestaurant in this spot, it's hard to justify having your high end item bepimiento cheese.

It's all economics. You've got to keep up with the times and change atleast a little bit as you go along, because rents are expensive in theFive Points area.

Raleigh mayor Tom Fetzer uses the grill as his campaign headquarters onelection night. Fetzer says the place is an icon, and "You don't messaround with icons casually."

He agrees that the grill needs a lift. And maybe it will be oneeverybody can live with.

We'll find out in about three weeks, when the grill reopens after itsfacelift.

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