Good News, Raleigh: Morgan Street Food Hall's Doors Are Finally Open | Food
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Monday, August 20, 2018

Good News, Raleigh: Morgan Street Food Hall's Doors Are Finally Open

Posted by on Mon, Aug 20, 2018 at 7:00 AM

click to enlarge The lights officially turned on at Morgan Street Food Hall today. - PHOTO BY LAYLA KHOURY-HANOLD
  • Photo by Layla Khoury-Hanold
  • The lights officially turned on at Morgan Street Food Hall today.
After a few false starts, Morgan Street Food Hall officially opened this morning at 7:00 a.m. (Note: Only two vendors with breakfast items will be serving food in the early morning hours, but a cuppa and a crepe from Morgan Street Java Crêpes makes for a compelling reason to go early.) Over the weekend, vendors such as Sassool, Carroll's Kitchen, and Makus Empanadas hosted a friends-and-family preview and put the finishing touches on their stalls and menu.

During a sneak peek of the twenty-thousand-square-foot Warehouse District space in late May, owner Niall Hanley told the INDY, "Essentially what we're opening here is the biggest bloody restaurant in Raleigh."

The food hall will house sixteen vendors, several of which include food trucks operating their first brick-and-mortar restaurant. Operations like the Morgan Street Food Hall give local food trucks—such as Cocoa Forte, which specializes in chocolate-dipped cheesecake, Oak City Fish & Chips, and the Indian-inflected Curry in a Hurry—the opportunity to open a restaurant with a smaller investment than a traditional, stand-alone restaurant. The rent is cheaper, there's less overhead and maintenance, and vendors can take advantage of shared kitchen, storage, and office space. It also acts as an incubator of sorts, where vendors have the added benefit of operating under Hanley, a seasoned restaurateur who also owns and operates Hibernian Hospitality Group.

Other menu and vendor highlights include brick-oven pies from Bella's Wood Fired Pizzas & Tapas, a truffle burger from Cow Bar (helmed by Hibernian executive chef Dan Yeager), ramen and bao from The Broth, loaded tots from Iyla’s Southern Kitchen, and Thai rolled ice cream from Raleigh Rolls (in addition to sweet flavors like Grandma's Nanner Puddin', we hear they're tinkering with savory flavors like avocado-wasabi).

In addition to securing the right mix of vendors, Hanley also shared that it was important to create the right atmosphere for the food hall, citing the night markets he grew up frequenting in his native Ireland and the bustle of food halls in places like New York City as inspiration. To keep it from feeling like a food court, Morgan Street Food Hall has a mix of indoor and outdoor seating, including low-slung leather couches and patio tables; party lights and table lamps for ambiance; live plants (Hanley has quite the green thumb); and custom furniture, including tables hewn from trees from the backyard of Raleigh Beer Garden, another of Hanley's establishments. There's also a balcony that Hanley envisions as a venue for live music.

The other thing that distinguishes Morgan Street Food Hall from a food court are its bars.

"It's not a mall. We're selling booze," Hanley told us. "I want it to be a night on the town. I want it to be a blast."

To that end, you can pair your lobster roll from Cousins Maine Lobster (this is the popular national food truck's first N.C. brick-and-mortar) with a bottle of Dom Perignon from the main bar's champagne list or wash down barbecue brisket tacos from Wicked Tacos with an N.C. craft beer. Or sidle up to Aunt Betty's Gin Bar, named after Hanley's Irish aunt's favorite spirit, for a craft cocktail.

Once we've got a full day of eating and drinking under our belts (better make that stretchy pants), we'll report back with more Morgan Street Food Hall news and eats.

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