File photo by Jeremy M. Lange
"We did it, y'all!"
Here’s a fun little tidbit making the rounds in Raleigh: According to several sources within Raleigh’s food community and current and former employees of Greg Hatem’s Empire Eats, the restaurant group will soon open another eatery in The L Building
, the near-completed and entirely huge multiuse space at the corner of McDowell and Davie streets.
The L Building’s own info deck confirms
that the building will indeed house a large ground-floor restaurant, but it doesn’t say anything about what the restaurant will be. But that’s where the trail gets intriguing—and perhaps a tad unfortunate, too: Sources inside and outside of Empire Eats say the restaurant will be called Junebug, and that it’ll be big on Southern cuisine.
Sounds good, until you consider that Poole’s—helmed by Ashley Christensen, who won the James Beard Award
for best chef in the Southeast just last year—is, like, 100 feet away. Is Hatem going to wage a McDowell Street macaroni-and-cheese war
on Christensen, a former employee and collaborator?
We’ve also heard that Empire planned to go with wood-fired pizza in its new space, but that idea has apparently fallen by the wayside. Remember, Christensen plans to open a pizza place
just down the street.
And a quick thought for Empire, which (of course) did not return a request for comment: If you’re going to serve Southern food, maybe choose a name that isn’t listed in the Racial Slur Database
(yes, that exists) or even Urban Dictionary
as a slang. No, no, it’s not common, but if you’ve lived in the South long enough to serve and sell regional cuisine worth eating, you should know better.