Foundation Opens in Downtown Raleigh With Local Flavor

Foundation Opens in Downtown Raleigh With Local Flavor

Moonshine Down Under

March, 05, 2009, by Jedidiah

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Since Fayetteville Street changed over from a pedestrian mall to a main street, Raleigh has continued to add new restaurants, condos and bars to spice up what was once dreary and dark. Foundation, the newest addition to main street, goes back to the days of the original mid 20th century main street and adds a 21st century flare.

The cavernous nature of the bar brings memories of underground locations such as The Cave in Chapel Hill, Freud’s in London and other dark yet intimate bars in other metropolises. This isn’t the first bar of its type in Raleigh, as we do have Alibi, but it’s definitely the one with the most style. Raw, yet hip, bars with Foundation’s sensibility, attitude and atmosphere don’t come around very often.

The tap serves North Carolina brews exclusively, among them Highland, Carolina Brewing Company, Aviator, Duck Rabbit, French Broad and more. Wines range from North Carolina to Virginia to Washington - a bit more broad but still mostly close to home. The liquor ranges in location as well, but is all US-based. The selection of house-created mixed drinks are told to be very tasty. They also make their own ginger ale, tonic and cola. Oh, and Moonshine from Madison, NC (which is sold by the unit and used in one of the cocktails). That’s what I call local flavor. Name another bar in the area that keeps it this real.

Everything in the bar is bespoke. Beautiful and simple bar stools of painted wood and steel, gorgeous wood bar and tables, exposed brick walls and the rest of the place screams authentic yet sleek style. A great place for a drink after work. A great place for an after dinner first date drink. A great place for about any damn thing.

The art in the bar is Raleigh-based as well. A few pieces are up (Ryan Cummings and Paul Friedrich) in the space with more to come. Also, free Wifi. It just keeps getting better.

Foundation will probably be a bar that is found by accident on the street or by word of mouth, but I have no doubt that it will instantly fit right in and become a downtown staple. It already feels like it has existed for at least 30 years (sounds familiar). Sometimes it’s nice to be in a bar at 4pm and feel like it’s midnight. We all have those days and Foundation has the space. Finally a place in downtown to take some of the attention and pressure off of The Times. Raleigh just grew a little bit more today. 

UPDATE: Non-smoking, and is located next to the Mint (just North), and there will eventually be outdoor seating on the Fayetteville Street level.

213 Fayetteville Street |  Suite 010 |  Raleigh, NC 27601 |  919 896 6016
Sunday – Friday : 4 pm – 2 am
Saturday : 2 pm – 2 am

Foundation Preview with Construction Photos and History

Foundation Website and More

See the Foundation {categories show="257|236|256|96" show_group="9" limit="1"}{category_name}{/categories} page.

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  • hackles10
    03/05 12:08 PM

    Looks Great!!!  Can’t wait to try it out!

  • Hollis
    03/05 12:14 PM

    With the weather being so nice, and all these great new spots (boylan, foundation, remedy), I’m so excited for Raleigh!

    Glad this is open- hoping to check it out tonight!

  • atypic
    03/05 12:16 PM

    Does anyone know if it’s non-smoking?

  • Jaclyn
    03/05 12:24 PM

    any outdoor seating?

  • John
    03/05 12:27 PM

    Can anyone tell us where exactly this place is on Fayetteville Street in relation to other known businesses? On the map, it looks to be near The Mint?

    Also, is it smoking or non-smoking friendly?


  • hackles10
    03/05 12:29 PM

    Right next to the mint, across at an angle from big easy.

    If you are at the times, take a left out of the bar, a left on fayetville st. and it is right there on the left.

  • BA
    03/05 12:36 PM

    Would you please answer the smoking question? I have stopped going to certain places b/c of the disgusting smoke so that’s a huge factor in whether I’ll be able to go to Foundation, which sounds like a great new place to check out. Thanks.

  • RaleighRob
    03/05 12:36 PM

    Looks like a neat place.  I love the bright green bench all along the wall. 

    Like above posters, I also wonder if it’s non-smoking.  With such a low ceiling, that could be an issue.

  • hackles10
    03/05 12:38 PM

    I am not sure about whether it will be non-smoking.  My guess would be yes, based on the trend downtown, the small space, and the fact that its in the basement.  But that is just a guess!

  • Jennifer
    03/05 12:39 PM

    I will be so so sos os os stoked if it’s nonsmoking.  If it isn’t, I won’t even go.

  • meghan
    03/05 12:55 PM

    yes!  no smoking for sure!

  • Jonathan
    03/05 12:55 PM

    Speaking of The Cave in Chapel Hill, I know their main bar area is now non-smoking.

  • arthurb3
    03/05 12:59 PM

    What good is drinking without smoking….unless you go just to be seen and pay $8 for a drink?

  • John
    03/05 01:09 PM

    Thanks for the reply on location and smoking. We will go for sure now. I can’t tell you how nice it is to go out and hang out in a cool bar for a drink and not have to smell like a$s or have destroyed my lungs with 2nd hand smoke when I get home. Smokers certainly rule at Landmark, The Saucer and the side bar to the Times. I can’t say enough how much we enjoy having non-smoking options to go to in Raleigh now. More please.

  • J V
    03/05 01:50 PM

    The Foundation is a great bar, hands down. I went last night and was greeted by nothing but friendly faces and damn good cocktails. We hit up a good bit of the cocktail menu and got to try a couple bourbons off of their extensive bourbon list. From the atmosphere to the glassware this is going to become an essential stomping ground for bar patrons who appreciate aesthetics over antics. The bar is in fact non-smoking, which doesn’t bother me as I am a smoker, and I do not mind walking up a short flight of stairs to get a glimpse of Fayetteville Street, and all of it’s nightly potential. Cell phone reception with AT&T is the only thing that I noticed that was lacking, but it was looked at as more of a blessing. Heh! Tucked away down a stairwell directly across from Kimbrell’s furniture store, this small space is just another great and solid location for Raleigh ever-growing night scene.

  • atypic
    03/05 02:18 PM

    hooray for non-smoking!

  • BA
    03/05 03:00 PM

    “What good is drinking without smoking….unless you go just to be seen and pay $8 for a drink?”

    The good is not poisoning everyone else with the toxins you choose to inhale. I think it is ridiculous that smoking is still legal in bars in this state. I’m not choosing to smoke those chemicals, why do I have to put up with someone else affecting my health by making the decision to be unhealthy?

    I will definitely visit The Foundation for sure now! Thanks!

  • dt
    03/05 03:27 PM

    its comments like those from BA that make me wish the Foundation was a smoking bar, just so I wouldn’t have to deal with people like that when I go there.

  • spete
    03/05 03:34 PM

    BA - the article is about FOUNDATION, not North Carolina smoking laws. Save you rant for the proper time please.

  • dbd
    03/05 04:14 PM

    Yay for nonsmoking!  I can actually wear my nice (dry-clean-only) clothes to go for drinks!

  • DPK
    03/05 04:14 PM

    “What good is drinking without smoking….unless you go just to be seen and pay $8 for a drink?“

    So you don’t smell like crap when you come back from the bar.

  • dwight
    03/05 04:16 PM

    will be there after first friday!

  • RaleighRob
    03/05 04:35 PM

    JV- Interesting note about cell reception.  Probably an aspect of a basement bar most people wouldn’t think about.  And really, you’re right—-it is a blessing in disguise!  ;-)

  • joebee
    03/05 04:57 PM

    how much are the pints?

  • smitty
    03/05 07:37 PM

    I stumbled in, it’ s a nice quiet place.  No smoking.  They make their own cola, which tastes very interesting.  Membership required.

  • Miles
    03/05 11:47 PM

    As said the bard
    Twas a good night.

  • mgd
    03/06 10:33 AM

    I never figured out why more bars/restaurants dont use those Nitrgo or Argon wine dispensing systems. 

    I now Know what Im doing tonight!

  • Ladye Jane
    03/06 11:57 AM

    Their specialty drinks are amazing! Was skeptical about an egg in my cocktail, but it was delicious :)

  • Michael
    03/06 01:05 PM

    This place exceeded my expectations.  I will be a regular for sure.  I just hope I can find a seat in there on a regular basis.  Ask them to let you peak in the back door storage closet for a real cool view of what it used to look like in there.  They should make that a glass door so you can always see in there.

  • DBD
    03/06 01:05 PM

    Did anyone have an issue with the membership requirement?  I assumed we could just show up and sign up (or have one member of the group sign up), but someone just told me there was a waiting period?  That can’t be right . . .

  • hackles10
    03/06 01:37 PM

    I don’t think there is a waiting period.  Go to the website and sign up, then they should have your name when you arrive.

  • Micah
    03/06 02:13 PM

    There is a legally-mandanted three day wait from the day of application for membership to a private club until you are considered a member.  Most clubs will sign you up and just sign you in (or pretend to) as a guest of another member at the same time.

  • Acree
    03/06 02:50 PM

    I love that the cell reception is specifically an AT&T problem. It’s nice to have a drink without a dozen iPhones sharing the table. (I’m jealous.)

  • Chad
    03/06 02:58 PM

    What took this place so long to open? It looks like a dump. Maybe the pics don’t do it justice?

  • hackles10
    03/06 03:03 PM

    ^haha, prepare to get flamed!

    I will start….it was essentially an 80 year old, untouched basement, they have pictures to prove the amount of work it took to excavate!

  • BSJ
    03/06 03:51 PM

    A dump?? You sound like my uptight mother!

  • Matt
    03/06 04:42 PM

    there’s no waiting period for membership.

  • Micah
    03/06 05:46 PM

    Matt, the three day wait for official membership to a private club is state law.  If they don’t have you wait, then they are in violation.  I know many bars don’t make you wait, but they are all at risk of getting fined by ALE and ABC.  A new bar, still on provisional permits, could lose their liquor license if they got in trouble.

  • DPK
    03/06 06:07 PM

    “What took this place so long to open? It looks like a dump.”

    You do realize that this place was basically filled in with dirt right?  They had to excavate the amount of dirt equal to that of the space of the bar.  Prior to it was only big enough to serve as a crawl space for the building above.  They also jacked up the entire building to provide more height.

  • mgd
    03/07 12:15 PM

    I went last night and I couldnt get in.  Apparently their seating capacity is only 50.  So they were turning people away. 

    It looks like what I would expect it to look like being in a basement.  I think it has character. 

    Ill try it again when there are less people.

  • Jennifer
    03/07 01:22 PM

    Perfect bar!

  • sarah emily
    03/08 11:24 AM

    I heart the Foundation.  American Honey bourbon and fresh ginger ale (the sodas are extract and sugar only, no high fructose corn syrup) was my drink of choice.  I’m also a supporter of the 50 person capacity limit, otherwise the space would be over crowded and hard to enjoy yourself and others.  I signed up for my membership online and had no problem getting my membership card at the door.  My guest just paid a $1.

  • LQ
    03/09 02:34 AM

    My new favorite bar, hands down.

  • mgd
    03/09 03:41 AM

    Tasty liquor drinks!

  • cabbeygo
    03/09 10:45 AM

    Does anyone have the website…my searches just send me back to the New Raleigh articles.

  • hackles10
    03/09 11:12 AM

    not much info to be had though

  • Jedidiah
    03/09 11:14 AM


    One of those articles you are referring to was about the website with links. (see the last link in this article before the photo of the taps)

    Foundation Website and More

  • BA
    03/09 12:42 PM

    spete and dt,

    I’m sorry my attitude of valuing my health offends you. I would also like to point out just how many people asked about non-smoking/smoking, so obviously my ‘rant’ was not totally off in space.

    I can’t wait to read your input on the non-smoking bar poll that was recently posted.

  • miamiblue
    03/09 01:39 PM

    I went to Foundation on Saturday and loved it. It was packed, even being a non-smoking bar (no food served). With the new non-smoking offerings that have opened in recent months, my friends and I find ourselves spending a lot less time and money in some of the old favorites that allow smoking, such as Landmark, Tir Na Nog and Flying Saucer. It’s too bad, because I like the vibe of some of the smoking places, but when there is a non-smoking option within close proximity, the non-smoking place will win unless I absolutely must have a beer that can only be found at the smoking establishment.

  • sally
    03/09 09:59 PM

    I think it’s my new favorite bar - and I haven’t even been there yet! I can’t believe they do their own sodas and ginger ale. I’ll be having a cocktail.

    And YAY for another non-smoking option!

    What about the music?

  • mgd
    03/09 10:18 PM

    Making soda isnt hard but it taste so good.  It is one thing I wish more of the smaller higher end bars would do. 

    Its like a restaurant not making their salad dressing.  Its something easy to do and added a lot of brownie points.

    I had their rum and ginger drink.  It was tasty I would like more zip/spice in the ginger ale but not as spicy as the Dark & Stormy @ The Lanter. 

    Yes there was music and it was at a decent volume unlike The Times sometimes.

  • jml01
    03/10 12:28 AM

    Tried to get in twice on Saturday night and they were apparently to capacity both times - super lame!  It looked like a cool enough place but not that cool.

  • James
    03/10 10:21 PM

    A friend and i checked it out late on Sunday night.  Perfect combination of Alibi and The Times.  Even though I smoke, I’m glad they don’t allow it.  The place is just too small.  Besides, the outdoor area is going to be in a great spot.  New favorite without a doubt.

  • TheCatalyst
    03/12 01:05 PM

    Hey BA~
    How about the rights of the property owner to decide if they want to allow smoking.

    So if I own a private bar you think it’s okay for the government to tell me I HAVE to prevent smoking and can’t smoke myself even if I’m the only employee?

    If the great FREE market of the US supports nonsmoking establishments then business owners with make that decision for their wallets. Great! But don’t tell me what I can or can’t do in my own property…

  • MMI
    03/13 05:33 PM

    I freakin’ LOVE this place!!  Finally, some originality in Bar, and yet it still manages to be traditional.  I have no idea how they manage it, but compare it to your favorite Chef—the one who somehow manages to grow & hand-prepare his/her own ingredients.

  • MMI
    03/16 08:37 PM

    BTW, I haven’t tried to house-made cola just yet, but that’s only because I can’t stop drinking the ginger ale.  It tastes just like chewing on a chunk of ginger root!

  • mgd
    03/16 10:39 PM

    The funny thing is that they do make their own ginger ale but they also have Blenheims!

  • mgd
    03/16 10:43 PM

    I think we need to petition of tequila well agave spirits.

  • MMI
    03/17 11:44 AM

    That still fits the “Domestics Only” rule.  Blenheim is made in South Carolina.</p>

    As for the Tequila, Kevin the Bartender & I were discussing ways to find a domestic Tequila.  I say “Tequila,” because you can’t call something made outside of Mexico, “Tequila.”  Still, I’d give this stuff a try.  I mean, hell, I drink California Sparkling Wine all the time!

  • Flashynista
    03/18 03:43 AM

    gyeah another spot to try out and do my amateur critiquing!

  • mgd
    03/18 09:27 AM

    Champagne is legally produced in the US.  I consider Champagne, Champagne for the method of production rather than location of origin. 

    Its like Id rather call a Toyota that is made in the USA, American not Japanese.


    As for the tequila I havent found where they can call it tequila it looks like they are going with Agave Spirits.

  • MMI
    03/18 03:25 PM

    Are you sure about that?  It was my impression that Champagne could be called that only if it were produced within that particular region.  Same goes for Vidalia Onions.

  • Megan
    03/19 01:57 PM

    Champagne is called Champagne ONLY when made in Champagne (a region in France)- it’s law.  Yes, they may use Methode Champinoise, but if you’re drinking sparkling wine from the US, it’s not called Champagne.  Just as sparkling from Italy is Prosecco, from Spain is Cava, etc.

    I think Temequila sounds like a cool thing to try, I like the “only things domestic” idea!

  • mgd
    03/19 04:18 PM


  • mgd
    03/19 04:19 PM

    Sorry for getting in a spitting match but:

  • mgd
    03/19 04:20 PM

    Sorry for so many post in a row it wouldnt let me post both of these as one post… maybe b/c of the 2 links in one post???

    Look at section 3.A.II

  • Megan
    03/20 04:26 PM

    Never knew about the semi-generic thing - it’s interesting and only makes things more confusing!  Duly noted.

  • bgdp
    04/07 02:03 PM

    Just because you can legally call something Champagne, doesn’t mean that you should. The semi-generic label was applied to protect a few large companies exploiting the ignorance of their target audiences. While the production mechanisms can be transfered from one place to another, the vines, soil, amount of shade, rain, nutrients, etc. cannot. Calling anyting Champagne grown outside of Champagne is more like calling a Toyota a Mercedes.

    Btw and back on point, the bar looks cool.

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