The year 2009 has not been kind to the Triangle's independent restaurants. In the last few weeks, Durham's George's Garage, a Ninth Street mainstay for 15 years, and Evoo, a neighborhood eatery in Raleigh's Five Points, closed.
However, several beloved local joints have stood the test of time: Raleigh's Peddler Steakhouse (6005 Glenwood Ave., 787-6980, www.peddlersteakhouse.com) marks its 40th year of serving aged beef. (83,200 rib eye loins cooked over four decades—yes, they are counting.)
"It can be a tough business; we've weathered economic ups and downs by focusing on quality and consistency, along with providing an exceptional dining experience every time a diner comes through our doors," says proprietor Gale Barefoot, who began working at the restaurant as a teenager.
In honor of its big milestone, the restaurant is offering a three-course dinner for two through Aug. 1: salad bar buffet, prime rib and cheesecake for $40 per couple.
Saladelia Cafe celebrates a big birthday this summer, and tastes have changed since its 1989 debut, says spokesman Joel Sheer.
"Twenty years ago, cooking with olive oil was exotic, fresh herbs were a mystery and most folks thought hummus was a type of potting soil," writes Sheer, bragging about the company's staying power. Proprietors Robert and Fida Ghanem have brought the homemade Mediterranean meals of their Lebanese childhoods to three Durham locations: a full-service café (4201 University Drive, 489-5776, www.saladelia.com) and two grab-and-go spots on the Duke campus and at the American Tobacco complex, as well as a catering business. The couple also owns Mad Hatters Bake Shop (1802 W. Main St., Durham, 286-1987, www.madhatterbakeshop.com).
In its quest to be planet-friendly, Saladelia has embraced local and organic sources for ingredients, uses recycled goods and recently incorporated green building principles and materials into a major renovation at its main restaurant, Sheer says.
In Chapel Hill, another long-lived, family-owned institution of the Triangle's dining scene changed families last week.
After more than 20 years of serving fine Italian cuisine, founders Sam, Susan and Vittoria Longiotti have sold Il Palio Ristorante (1505 E. Franklin St., 929-4000, www.sienahotel.com), says Carole Marcusse-Sell, marketing director at Plaza Associates, which handled the $7.3 million transaction, inked July 15. Local father-and-son team Govind and Prateek Chandak and their company, The Focus Properties Inc., will take over the restaurant and the 79-room hotel it calls home.
No big personnel changes are planned in Il Palio's kitchen, Marcusse-Sell says, though the new owners have committed to spending $3 million to renovate the hotel and banquet side of the house. The Longiotti family also owns the local chain of Kanki restaurants.
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