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Raleigh's new downtown restaurants bustling in down economy

The slow economy has not stalled entrepreneurs in downtown Raleigh. Some owners of newly opened restaurants say their businesses are bustling despite tough financial times.

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RALEIGH, N.C. — The slow economy has not stalled entrepreneurs in downtown Raleigh, and owners of some newly opened restaurants say their enterprises are bustling despite tough financial times.

The Boylan Bridge Brewpub, 201 South Boylan Ave., opened for business a week ago and has been packed every night.

“We see ourselves as a little pocket of prosperity in the midst of lots of doom and gloom,” said Andrew Leager, Boylan Bridge Brewpub owner.

Leager said he's seen excitement about his restaurant and the other six new restaurants to open in downtown Raleigh this year.

“We're activating the sidewalks. There are people walking on the sidewalks in all four directions, and that's what you want in a city,” Leager said.

A few blocks away, Remedy Diner was also testing the troubled economy Friday night. The restaurant at 137 E. Hargett St., opened its doors this week.

“(I'm) taking a chance. Somebody has got to do it,” said Dave Justus, owner of the Remedy Diner.

Development officials said they're encouraged to see that 45 new businesses set up in downtown last year.

“It's great to see that there's still investment happening downtown,” said Paul Reimel, economic development manager for the Downtown Raleigh Alliance.

Those new businesses are a buttress against restaurant closings that have increased statewide in the past two years. In 2008, 156 restaurants closed – a 25 percent increase from 2007, which had a 30 percent increase from the previous year.

In Raleigh, lunch spot Joe’s Place, at 301 W. Martin St., closed its doors in January. Enoteca Vin on Glenwood Avenue also recently closed.

Reimel said he hopes the newer businesses will help out some older businesses that are struggling to get by.

“One can build off another. You're going to have a different concept. Maybe one night, you'll want to come down to Hargett Street. Maybe another night, you'll want to go to southern Fayetteville Street,” Reimel said.

Owners of new restaurants said they're happy to help out.

“I don't see other businesses as competition to us. We're all in it together. So, let's make Raleigh downtown a better place to hang out,” Justus said.


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