Raleigh Chef Chad McIntyre surprised patient fans last week by announcing that the long-delayed opening of his bigger-and-better The Market Restaurant has been cancelled.
"Ever since I put it on Facebook, I've heard from all these people who say they would have given money to make it happen," McIntrye says with a wry chuckle. "I wish they spoke up nine months ago."
McIntrye closed the popular 1,600-square-foot neighborhood eatery last March. He projected reopening in May as a 5,500-square-foot restaurant-grocery store-catering operation at Person Street Plaza. It would have anchored the revitalized shopping center, which is located on East Franklin Street at the midpoint of the burgeoning Mordecai and Oakwood neighborhoods. The opening date was postponed several times.
McIntyre says that disagreements between investors over the business concept became contentious over the summer. And his attorney advised that the crowd-funding process deployed by Slow Money NC, a respected organization that has helped other local entrepreneurs to raise capital, was not the right fit for this undertaking. A Kickstarter effort to purchase a commercial canning oven, which would have been used to produce house-made goods to stock store shelves, also was not funded.
This made a spring donor event at CAM Raleigh, where the mood seemed optimistic, rather awkward. "I still believe we could have raised $400,000 that night, but our hands were tied," McIntyre says. "We talked ourselves up and expected everyone to get on board. People did get on board, but not at the same time."
Former partner Daniel Whittaker, manager at Green Planet Catering, left the project in late summer. "We had so many people saying it was a great idea, but not enough giving us money," says Whittaker, who recently moved Green Planet operations from Raleigh to a commercial kitchen space in Cary.
Whittaker considers himself part of the Market project's target audience. "I live in the neighborhood and am tired of having to drive across town to buy groceries," he says. "There was a lot of interest from other areas, too. I still believe in the concept and I hope we can crank it up again."
McIntyre ultimately decided to stop the project. "I was OK with the idea of tweaking the concept, but not completely abandoning it," he says. "I have a brand to protect. People expect a level of quality from The Market Restaurant name, and from me personally. When the time is right, it will happen."
McIntyre is launching a new business. Market regulars will recall that he designed an environmentally friendly system used to serve chilled keg beers. His Eco-Tech Draft Systems company custom fabricates and installs systems for beer and wine service. It's used at Six Plates Wine Bar in Durham and Matty B's in Raleigh, among others.
In addition to reducing expenditures for bottled beer and wine, McIntyre's product includes routine maintenance that he says delivers a cleaner pour.
"Here's my analogy: You flush your toilet every day, but if you don't clean it every week it gets gross," he says. "It's the same with a beer delivery system. I'm going into places where I can tell that systems haven't been touched since they were installed however many years ago.
"Think of it this way: A farmer busts his ass to get great food to the plate. Beer and wine makers are the same way," he says. "No one wants to see a great product ruined at the one-yard line."
The new venture has allowed McIntyre welcome downtime to enjoy with his wife and their two young daughters. He's also participated in the recent Fire in the Triangle competition cooking event.
"I get to be Daddy, cook now and then and run a business I believe in," he says, laughing at his own good fortune. "I look forward to having a restaurant again, but right now, this is just perfect."
A version of this article was originally published on our Big Bite food blog.
This article appeared in print with the headline "No dough is a no go."