Pitmaster Ed Mitchell Leaving The Pit Restaurant

Pitmaster Ed Mitchell Leaving The Pit Restaurant

May, 25, 2011, by Jedidiah

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It has been almost four years since Nana's Chophouse switched over to The Pit in the Warehouse District and now, the man behind the grill has said he's moving on.

Ed Mitchell, coming way of Wilson, NC, teamed up with Greg Hatem (Empire Eats) in November of 2007 to create one of the most popular restaurants in downtown and help anchor the Warehouse District's development over the past few years. The Pit has a huge following and probably the best publicity team of any restaurant in the area. The restaurant has been featured in multiple magazines over the years and listed as one of the top restaurants in the country by a few folks. It is also packed almost every single meal that it has its doors open and serving food. 

According to the News and Observer, the split is amicable and both parties will move forward with new ventures. Ed Mitchell plans to open another restaurant in the Triangle (and also a collaboration with Butterball to make turkey bbq) and Hatem and company will continue business as usual and even plan on opening a second location of The Pit in Durham.

The N&O states that everything at The Pit will stay the same once Mitchell leaves. We don't see the place slowing down anytime soon, especially since the warehouse district is booming. But, having Mitchell's name no longer associated with the restaurant and his BBQ reputation to parade around on daytime television and food magazines is sure to hurt a little.


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Restaurants, Other posts by Jedidiah.


Empire EatsThe PitEd Mitchell


  • DBAPfan
    05/25 03:41 PM

    Couple things:

    The Pit’s bbq is NOT Ed’s and hasn’t been for some time, causing a huge rift between Hatem and Mitchell.  Ed wanted to cook his own, Hatem didn’t like labor costs involved. Its ordered from US Foods, who supplies restaurants with precooked food and prepped in house, but not cooked. Any person who remembers his Wilson days can attest that that is NOT his food.

    Ed Mitchell is a GOOD MAN. hint.

    There’s waaaay more to the story.  Shame on N&O for not digging deeper.  Hell, you don’t even have to dig.  It’s common knowledge.

  • spanky
    05/25 03:47 PM

    who cares, i go to cooper’s

  • hackles10
    05/25 03:52 PM

    ^^you have honest proof/evidence that the bbq @ the Pit is pre-cooked by a major US food distribution company and merely prepped and served @ the restaurant?  I love the sides at the pit, never loved the chopped q (like coops much better) but I somehow find this hard to believe.  Seems like the corporate interests might have cut some of the slow cooking process out but it seems inconceivable that no cooking is done @ the Pit.

  • scoop
    05/25 04:03 PM

    don’t cook food there?!  that explains why the kitchen catches on fire a few times a year.  they must be doing that just for show. give me a break with the slander. BTW, your afternoon shift at dickey’s is about to start, DBAPfan.

  • LULA
    05/25 04:29 PM


  • smelly Clam
    05/25 04:49 PM

    I like tacos!

  • chop
    05/25 04:49 PM

    hackles 10 is a retard that eats tv dinners.  Love the sides.  Gross!

  • JeffS
    05/25 05:02 PM

    One of the most over-hyped restaurants in Raleigh. I wouldn’t want my name associated with that food either.

  • Jesse Stone
    05/25 05:24 PM

    Eat at the Pit all the time. Love it! Ribs are great. Best banana pudding ever. Highly recommend it.

  • Nathan
    05/25 05:45 PM

    I have heard some bad things about what empire does to their “partners”

    Out of Gravy, Sitti, Duck and Dumpling and the Pit how many partners are left…

    05/25 06:31 PM

    About two weeks ago another local restauranteur told me Hatem had fired Ed Mitchell.  I didnt believe it then.  Now I am not so sure.  The turkey bbq and carolina ribs are da bomb.

  • hbomb
    05/26 01:02 AM

    hatem screws up everything with his partners. what nathan said above is true. i’ve talked with a lot of the partners about how they were treated. and how their concepts were changed. the food isn’t horrible, just not what they had previous acclaim for. good for ed mitchell.

  • Brian
    05/26 01:24 AM

    I ate at Mitchell’s a lot when I was visiting family in Wilson.  The food at the Pit was never up to that level and the atmosphere was never my cup of tea.  I would’ve liked to alternate with Cooper’s, but the Pit was just never a satisfying ‘cue experience.  Hopefully Ed will open up a nice, traditional-style spot somewhere close.

  • ralRulls
    05/26 09:24 AM

    he should start a restaurant in the old post office downtown…talk about two birds with one stone!!

  • Elliot
    05/26 10:04 AM

    The ribs at the Pit are excellent but you know, haters gonna hate. Specially about BBQ.

  • bryan
    05/26 12:47 PM

    It does seem that many partners of Empire Eats leave quickly, they must be treated poorly.

  • gutcheck
    05/26 02:38 PM

    @bryan-I wouldn’t say many do.  Mao retired after 8 or 9 years at the Duck, granted he has since opened up a new spot.  Bella seemed to leave Gravy before it started to pick up, perhaps they weren’t willing to wait around to see the place fill up like it does now.  Neomonde has been with Sitti since the get go and they’re thriving.  It takes a lot to keep restaurants open and thriving and i’m sure like any other business, sometimes people don’t agree with those decisions and want to move on. 

    Ed, when not incarcerated, is a marketable guy and he clearly wants to pursue another opportunity.  Ed’s been a helpful spokesman for the Pit since they opened but was never the chef so I really don’t see the success of the restaurant in limbo.  Seats stay full over there so the Empire Eats people clearly know how to stay successful.  I, for one, think they’ll crush it in downtown Durham too.

  • Bryan
    05/26 04:38 PM

    yeah its a good place to grab lunch or dinner, it will succeed for many years.  Sitti is the best so far…we need more ethnic foods downtown.

  • ilovethechairs
    05/27 11:00 PM

    @gutcheck…you some sort of an empire plant?  Nice underhanded dig at Ed Mitchell “when not incarcerated” thats a real good one.  I think the situations speak for themselves.  1. Shut Out Rapid Fitness, 2. Shut out Brass Grill, 3. Ed Mitchell gone and from what most say it is not amicable, 4. Gravy split, 5. Duck and Dumpling Mao “retires” to immediately open new project. Lot of signs support @bryan’s statement.

  • mark
    05/28 05:17 PM

    i’m a snob… i only eat bbq of of paper or styrofoam

  • chippa dee
    05/29 12:33 PM

    Mark wins “Best Comment of the Thread”. Congratulations!

  • DTR'ite
    05/30 08:37 AM

    He’s long said that opening a restaurant in New York would be a dream of his… is this the reason for the move?  to be honest, his involvement with The Pit always seemed like a means to end… book deal for the pitmaster? tv show?

  • Jampire
    05/30 03:31 PM

    Ashley Christensen was the executive chef at Empire for a brief while.  I’m glad she split to open Poole’s and can’t wait for the new place on Wilmington St.

  • Redoak
    05/31 01:13 PM

    Yea, and Ashley was yet another of many, many, MANY burned bridges - have completely lost count at this point. No question, the exact same thing happened with Ed. Seems like Greg’s reputation/personality is starting to catch up with him.

  • Raleighwood
    06/07 12:52 PM

    Best line “especially since the warehouse district is booming”...Too funny

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