Belle Restaurant to Open Downtown in Early August
Cary, NC — After a series of delays, owner Tammy Calaway-Harper states that her restaurant, Belle, will be opening in early August in the renovated Jones House on South Academy.
The restaurant project is a partnership between the Town of Cary (who purchased the house in 2011) and Calaway-Harper. The town held an open call for business proposals for the building back in march 2012. Much has changed since that first proposal was approved, when Larry’s Beans was going to open a coffee shop.
After that initial partner backed out, the town approached Tammy, who owns a successful bakery business called Sweet T Cakery. She currently sells her baked goods at the Raleigh and The Western Wake Farmers Markets, and has a booming custom order business. The plan was to partner with another local coffee roaster and open up a coffee shop/ bakery.
How A Baker Decided To Open a Restaurant
Tammy says she’s been baking since she was three with her mother and grandmother. She started her Sweet T Cakery business about 7 years ago after a divorce, when she felt she wanted to do something that made her happy. She left her marketing IT job to do this and hasn’t looked back. But the bakery has grown and now its a “natural progression to move into the restaurant business. Its time to expand.”
Tammy said as she worked the numbers on the coffee shop concept, she became worried the restaurant wouldn’t make money. And after the second coffee partner backed out during a series of construction and approval delays, she came up with the idea for a “farm to table” restaurant that the Town really got behind.
Named for Grandma
Her background includes growing up on a farm in Southern Ohio where she says she learned to cook beside her beloved grandmother, Belle, for whom the restaurant will now be named.
Tammy added she wanted something simple for the name, and to start with a “clean slate” for the location with the long name (the historic connotation is the Jones-Foy House).
80% Locally Grown and Purchased
Her excitement is palpable as she describes what the restaurant will offer.
She prides herself on the partnerships and connections she has forged in the area, stating that smaller farmers are more willing to take a chance and plant something special. She is sourcing sustainable and organic produce and meats wherever possible, and 80% of foods will be sourced from within a 30 mile radius (fish will come from the NC coast).
You Have to Be Patient
As the project proceeded, there have been plenty of delays, from the original Christmas-time opening date.
Recently, it was discovered that the painting for the exterior was sub-par and will be redone at a cost to the contractor. It also turned out the roof is leaky and was found to be so rusty that in a heavy wind it might actually fly off. A new metal roof should be installed next week, paid for by the town from unused Downtown funds.
No Free Ride
For naysayers who think Calloway has had a free ride from the town on this project, she states that she has invested $100,000 of her own capital on interior design, restaurant equipment, lighting and furniture.
She added that she “has all the faith in the Town and we have a wonderful working relationship…You just have to be patient.”
Another 140 Years
She has been a stickler for construction that will stand the test of time. The building had exhibited much water damage due to lack of a tenant, a leaky roof and lack of gutters or flashing. When walls were opened, mold and rotted wood were often found, and she continues to battle with leaks.
Knowing the age of the building, she also got a variance to change the metal flashing behind the stove to tile, which she installed after insisting the walls be sealed properly. Her fear? That a continuous hot oven would catch the walls on fire one day.
“I want this house to see another 140 years”, she added.
The house dates from the late 1880’s.
The Wood Pile
Many have wondered about the wood pile out front. Did it come from the interior? No.
Tammy says it was wood she purchased from the Angus Barn, that had been reclaimed. She has used it in a number of ways to make the interior a bit more farmhouse-like and eclectic. Her tables will be constructed from it, the bar was fashioned from it and there are pieces used in the bakery area.
The balance will be hauled away this week.
Unique Dining Experience
The restaurant will seat about 60-64. The porch will have seating with small 2 person tables. A patio will eventually be added for additional outdoor seating. Meandering pathways through the garden are planned. The outdoor areas may get built as the Town’s park project proceeds and be worked on in unison.
There’s a full bar, managed by April Schlanger, the previous owner of Sip..A Wine Store. Signature fresh cocktails are in the works. Her bakery will be incorporated into the restaurant. There will be monthly menus based on local availability of ingredients. Tammy said, “It’s our goal to provide a unique dining destination for residents of the Triangle, while supporting local sustainable farming.” Coffee is locally roasted from Carrboro Coffee, and baked goods will be created on-site.
Looking for a coffee place downtown? Coffee and bakery items will be available through the day, and into lunch. The restaurant will close mid afternoon to regroup and prepare for dinner. Dinner will start service at 5 and continue til 9:00 during the week and later on weekends.
Look for classes and demonstrations on pickling, preserving and baking, as well as chef dinners and wine events.
After months of anticipation, Downtown will add another new destination in a few short weeks. CaryCitizen is excited to report on new development in our Downtown area. See other Downtown stories.
Food coverage on CaryCitizen is sponsored in part by Whisk of Cary.
The best of Luck to Tammy and ‘Belle’! Although it’s been a long time coming I suspect the wait will have been well worth it… can hardly wait to book my dinner reservation.
i want to see the downtown Cary area thrive as much as the next person. We need restaurants, we need boutique hotels (along the lines of aLoft) and additional retail. These one’offs that the city is financing are not going to be the answer. How much has the “new downtown” Cary theater made in regard to how much excessive capital that was put into it by the City of Cary? How much business will the new “boutique B & B” that the City financed (what is the going rate of a room going to be per night? upwards of $250 plus??) generate? And what are these B&B’ers going to stroll over to in their walks around the B&B, will they check out Solid Gold and all the fine bars around it?? I hope this restaurant succeeds and I hope she has solid business plan.
if you want to see real change, then let’s talk about the 5 families that are squatting on the valuable property downtown. (Think Auto repair shops (not Frantz) and the dead malls.)
They need to play ball or sell. That’s how I see it.
An historic, destination restaurant next to the perpetually oversubscribed Cary Arts Center. A boutique B&B convenient to Town Hall and Cary entertainment venues. A classic movie theater able to host intimate performances. Very different from the previous commercial desolation. Voter approved pump priming is working and making Cary a more desirable place to live.
In the early 1970’s, downtown Charleston, SC was a larger version of old downtown Cary. There was nothing and nobody there. Joe Riley was elected Mayor in 1975. He initiated downtown development with city funding. It took awhile. He’s still the Mayor. Now their concern is too much development and too many tourists.
And with the new extended C-Tran hours some of us non-driving seniors will actually be able to enjoy all this new activity. And get home again afterwards without a 3 mile walk!
The Belle: Nearest non-street parking is across the street in the side lot to the right of the Cary Art Center.
The pedestrian crossing to same is a tough one when there is traffic. (Did it tonight, going to the beach Band at Chatham & Academy.)
Try it some time. Drivers are NOT used to seeing people walk through that intersection. It’ll get busier maybe when Walnut project gets done.
The pedestrian lane markings on the pavement need to be like what the kids get over at the High School.
Not sure where the C-Tran will stop for those dining or getting AM coffee.
I sure hope no pedestrian accidents occur. It was something watching all the glowing phone screens in-use by drivers going through there after the concert ended. Lots of right on red and no stopping first.
Hiring? I make killer Scottish Shortbread and State Fair award winning jellies and pickled cherries (great for the bar!). Restaurant equipment sales and restaurant experience from washing pots and pans to management. Cleaning and sanitizing stickler!
Perhaps some of the mold and water came from the window in the gable that was left open for a solid month a couple months ago. I will believe it when I see it. I will be shocked if it opens before September.