Artist's Arrest After Block Party Steals Spotlight From Businesses
The arrest of nationally known musician Uncle Kracker wasn’t what proprietors in Raleigh’s Warehouse District had hoped people would be talking about Friday night.
The singer, whose real name is Matthew Shafer, was charged with a sex offense that police reports indicate happened at the Ess Lounge after his performance. In a statement to People magazine, he denied the allegation.
Organizers wanted the block party to highlight new businesses in the entertainment district, including the recently opened Ess Lounge and three restaurants and bars expected to be running by Labor Day weekend.
Ronnie Davis, owner of the three soon-to-be-opened establishments, said Shafer’s arrest shouldn't reflect poorly on businesses that haven’t even opened yet.
His businesses were originally slated to open this week, but Davis said he ran into a delay the city's permitting process. Eventually, the fire marshal signed off on paperwork clearing the way for Davis to open the three nightspots.
Proprietors said they're working to end the image of the Warehouse District as a downtrodden area.
“The area is safe,” Davis said. “It’s a beautiful area, and we are going to try to promote night life down here.”
Davis's three new businesses will be part of Raleigh's Depot, the former Southern Railway station on Davie Street in the Warehouse District. Five years ago, the North Carolina Railroad Company spent more than $2 million to restore the depot.
“It’s kind of a connection between Glenwood South and Fayetteville Street,” Greg Hatem, owner of Nana's Chophouse in the Warehouse District, said.
“I think with the opening of those new restaurants and bars, it’s going to start hitting some strides,” Hatem said.
Patrons said they have found plenty to enjoy in the Warehouse District's growing entertainment landscape.
"It's safe. It's fun. Everybody just comes down and has a good time," Matt Isaman said.
“I think this area has a lot of potential, and especially with the three new bars opening up, I’m pretty excited,” Megan Tucker said.