The Bull City will soon be in hog heaven.
Ed Mitchell, the famous barbecue pit master, and Greg Hatem, Raleigh restaurateur and developer, are each opening up new barbecue restaurants in Durham later this year.
Hatem and Mitchell partnered to open The Pit in downtown Raleigh in 2007.
Mitchell, who once beat Food Network Star and chef Bobby Flay in a Throwdown!, is opening ’Que at Durham’s American Tobacco Campus. It will be located in the new Diamond View III complex that’s under construction past the left outfield of the Durham Bulls baseball park.
About a mile down the road, Hatem, owner of Empire Eats, is going to open a second location of The Pit on Geer Street and Rigsbee Avenue.
The two restaurants are scheduled to open only a few weeks apart, The Pit in early August, ’Que in September after construction of Diamond View III is complete.
Hatem is looking forward to a friendly rivalry with Mitchell.
“First and foremost, we’re both passionate about barbecue,” Hatem said. “I’m excited that he’s coming in. (It) turns Durham into a barbecue center.”
Mitchell plans on featuring whole-hog barbecue, smoked as only Mitchell knows how, along with turkey, ribs and a full bar.
He also aims to have most of his meats and vegetables come from local farmers, including several in Duplin County that he worked with in The Pit’s early days.
“I hope to use at least 95 to 98 percent local,” Mitchell said, “as much as I can get.”
Hatem’s restaurant will have 11 smokers that will run 24 hours a day, seven days a week, cooking everything from whole hogs to chicken to beef.
“(We are going to) roll out a beef specialty around the bull,” Hatem said. “It is the Bull City. We want to pay homage to the bull as well as the hog.”
Hatem plans to have a team of chefs and offer high-end North Carolina sides that are culinary-driven. He’ll also have relationships with area farmers and local breweries, including the restaurant’s neighbor, Fullsteam.
The Pit will have a rooftop deck and be equipped to hold special events. Hatem also plans to offer catering and tours.
Mitchell’s restaurant, which is on the Blackwell Street side of the building and doesn’t face the ball field, will include an outdoor patio and seat about 150 customers, said Michael Goodmon, vice president of real estate for Capital Broadcasting Co., which owns WRAL.
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