Jason Howard, owner of Raleigh's Brooklyn Heights Bar (605 Glenwood Ave., 239-4926, www.brooklynheightsbar.com), had no official connection to the nearby bar and restaurant The Rockford (320 1/2 Glenwood Ave., Raleigh). A loyal patron, Howard ate lunch at The Rockford at least once a week and was among the masses of locals who mourned the 15-year-old establishment's closing in early April 2010.
While many called out for The Rockford's reopening on venues like Facebook with a "Save the Rockford" page, Howard yelled in a different way. Two days after the restaurant's close, he learned the name of former Rockford owner, Michael D'Amelio, parked in front of the restaurant and called D'Amelio's name to a man who crossed the street. Lucky for Howard, D'Amelio turned around. The two sat down and talked. And as a result, The Rockford reopened June 22 under the direction of Howard and two business partners.
One of the biggest changes The Rockford has undergone concerns its visibility. Original lettering on the Rockford's glass doors, which was the only signage, has been repainted in hopes of boosting the Glenwood South location's almost under-the-radar status. The restaurant and bar is perched on a second floor that overlooks Glenwood Avenue and is easy to miss for foot or car traffic.
The menu at the restaurant remains relatively the same, though it has been pared slightly (don't worry, the beloved ABC—apple, bacon, cheddar—sandwich remains). Howard says the restaurant and bar will stay true to the original Rockford's offerings and feel. "We want to imitate what they did, learn from it and, if at all possible, make it better," he explains. The space is open daily for dinner and Monday–Saturday for lunch. The bar opens at 5 p.m. every day.
For a completely new venue in the Triangle, check out the barely two-week-old Capital Club 16 (16 W. Martin St., Raleigh, www.capitalclub16.com) in Raleigh's former Capital Club building. Owner and chef Jake Wolf hopes that the restaurant and space will "pay homage to old Raleigh" through the use of some of the club's former materials and the building's art deco design. In addition, Wolf, along with his business partner and wife, Shannon Wolf, have incorporated salvaged wood from North Carolina mills to create tables, plus mahogany and oak from the venerable Lüchow's German restaurant in New York to create the bar and backbar at Capital Club 16. While living in New York, the Wolfs acquired the wooden pieces after finding them in a Harlem warehouse.
In the Capital Club building, the Lüchow's-formed bar will provide a surface for German fare—one of Jake Wolf's specialties—but few German beers. Among them, look for Reissdorf Kölsch on draft, plus bottles of Spaten Optimator and Paulaner Hefe-Weizen. For dinner, expect entrées like the Butcher's Plate, which includes a selection of sausages, a smoked pork chop and griddled pork belly with sauerkraut alongside mustards, potatoes and sautéed apples; and the Golden Buck, a burger served open faced and completed with a fried egg. But with the tagline "Traditional American Restaurant and Bar," a range of other options exist, such as a Turkey Club Hero and a Chopped Beef Brisket (served Sloppy Joe style) for lunch and a Farmer's Breakfast for Sunday brunch.