Development Beat on Hillsborough Street: The H-Street Kitchen

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James Borden

Rufty-Peedin Design Builders was awarded the contract for H-Street Kitchen. They also sponsor The Development Beat!

Brought to you by Rufty-Peedin Design Build

Wednesday, March 30, 2016

In October of last year, we reported on the plans to transform the former Hillsborough Street Textbook Store into a new restaurant, The Varsity House.

Very cool design here

H-Street Kitchen/MR Creative

Very cool design here


As you can see, we got the name wrong. Back in January, it was announced that the H-Street Kitchen will be filling the space of the former movie theater / McDonald’s / bookstore.

H-Street is honestly a much better name. Less generic sounding.

For what it’s worth, although the contractor on this job also happens to be the general sponsor of this column, I decided to do this write-up because I happened to be on Hillsborough Street yesterday and figured I’d take some pictures.

Rufty-Peedin Design Builders was awarded the contract for H-Street Kitchen. They also sponsor The Development Beat!

James Borden

Rufty-Peedin Design Builders was awarded the contract for H-Street Kitchen. They also sponsor The Development Beat!

Moving on. The architect on the project is the New City Design Group; Adam Rose, whose resume includesIl Palio and Straw Valley Cafe, is set to be the chef and Eric Harris, whose resume includes the Raleigh Times and Ruth’s Chris, will be the general manager.

According to a report from WRAL in January, “Offerings will include sandwiches, burgers, entrees and a rotating selection of “Red Plate” specials.” Meals will cost between $8-$17.

No set date has been announced for the opening; its website simply says Spring 2016.

Here’s how they describe themselves:

Contributing to Hillsborough Street’s resurgence, H-Street Kitchen will open its doors next Spring in the 75 year old Varsity Theatre building — front and center to NC State, the university we know and love. Our focus will be on creating an exciting dining experience that embodies the same spirit and energy that came before — one that is built as a place for students, alumni and neighbors to commingle in food and fellowship.

They’ve even got a Facebook page already set up for the restaurant that’s been detailing the construction progress as it moves forward. We swiped a few of those pictures and threw them in the gallery at the bottom of this piece.

While Rufty-Peedin is the general contractor for the project, they’ve hired Young’s Electric to do the electrical, plumbing and mechanical work and Carolina Fire Protection to handle the port-a-johns. Or the fire protection service; I might have it mixed up.

Actually one of the things I noticed and appreciated when I was walking around the back of the building yesterday was the bright green “Shamrock Dumpster” that Rufty-Peedin is renting.

I like the idea of a dumpster rental company with a gimmick, and since I’m Irish and green is my second-favorite color, of course I think this particular concept is top-notch. They’ve even got a good slogan: “You Make It, We Take It!”

Themed dumpsters, I love it!

James Borden / Raleigh Public Record

Themed dumpsters, I love it!

Per the WRAL piece, the 240-seat restaurant will have a focus on “fresh, local cuisine” and will have regular and “spiked” milkshakes. At first I thought this sounded completely gross, but White Russians can taste kind of like chocolate milk, so an alcoholic milkshake could conceivably work, if that’s your bag.

As we reported back in October, this won’t be the first time the former Varsity Theater at 2420 Hillsborough Street has played host to a restaurant: it was a McDonald’s for a time in the 1980s and 1990s before eventually reopening as a textbook store.

The Varsity Theater itself originally opened in 1941, and in the 1970s became the Studio 1 Theaters, a place that catered to the nearby college students and showed classic films such as Casablanca. What this means, essentially, is that no matter how good the H-Street Kitchen, it will never be as good as the Studio 1 theater in the 70s. Oh well. The same general comparison is probably true for a lot of things, with the possible exception of gas stations.

And now, enjoy a gallery of the ongoing work at 2420 Hillsborough!