Poole’s Diner on WUNC’s The State of Things & Final Pop the Cap Dinner

July, 22, 2008, by Jedidiah

Advertise on NR

The downtown Raleigh restaurant will be featured soon in Bon Appetit magazine and today at noon, there will be a discussion about Poole’s Diner on WUNC’s program The State of Things.

Start with a long formica countertop, add swivel seats and a juke box, sprinkle with a few gum-popping waitresses, and you’ve got the recipe for a heaping slice of Americana—the diner. But diners aren’t just cheesy throw-backs to a long gone era. Many have been renovated in recent years to bring out their inner charm, including Poole’s Diner in Raleigh. Frank Stasio talks with Poole’s chef/owner Ashley Christensen and diner historian Richard Gutman about balancing old and new in the American diner.

State of Things Website

See the Poole’s Downtown Diner {categories show="257|236|256|96" show_group="9" limit="1"}{category_name}{/categories} page.

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Ashley ChristensenBeerPop the CapCraft Beer


  • kms1
    07/23 08:36 PM

    How does this mediocre food get so much press?

  • ab
    07/24 02:37 PM

    seriously?  i’d be curious to know exactly what, about Poole’s, you define as mediocre.  i’ve been there more often than not, and have yet to have anything (food or drink) that comes close to mediocre.  so i’d really like to know why you, so clearly in the minority, describe it as such.

  • olivia
    07/24 03:50 PM

    i’ve eaten there twice and was quite disappointed both times. minute, overpriced portions. and very few vegetarian options.

    oh, and what’s the deal with the chalkboard??????

  • kms1
    07/24 04:01 PM

    Ashley has made a name for herself as a “celebrity” chef. Yet, Vin’s menu would never even be considered in a real restaurant market. Also, if you own any high end cookbooks you will find a lot of her dishes created by other chefs. It would be nice to see this city promote talented chefs and support their work. Ashley is another product of great marketing. Let’s see Raleigh embrace true fine dining, true local usage, and be willing to pay for it. And yes, Pooles is mediocre not bad but mediocre. Lets give the press to a chef with original ideas and start to make Raleigh a true food market like Chapel Hill.

  • PRGuy
    07/24 04:48 PM

    Actually, Durham is more widely regarded for high-end cuisine than Chapel Hill (altough I love Lantern). With Magnolia Grill, Nana’s, Four Square, Foster’s, several Giorgio Bakatias restaurants, and others, it’s a great place to dine.

  • kms1
    07/24 04:52 PM

    You are correct, I should have added Durham. (I love the lantern as well!!)

  • T
    07/24 05:25 PM

    Using your opinion of one chef in Raleigh, to belittle all cuisine in the city is ridiculous.  I would say that The Lantern and Magnolia Grill are the only places that could be definitively argued to be better than what you find in Raleigh.

  • kms1
    07/24 05:27 PM

    Please tell us where to go then.

  • T
    07/24 06:06 PM

    Well, first off, tell me what places separate Chapel Hill from Raleigh, as being a “true food market”, to give me a basis of comparison.

  • kms1
    07/24 06:18 PM

    Try any of these markets: Gourmet Magazines top 50.


  • T
    07/24 06:30 PM

    That just lists Lantern and Magnolia Grill, which have already been mentioned. 

    Nothing else?

  • ab
    07/24 06:35 PM

    the deal with the chalkboards (if you’ve read any bit written about the restaurant) is that they’re an eco-friendly way to display an evolving menu. ever notice that many other menus in town (and by town i mean chapel hill + durham too) either don’t change (boring) or print out daily menus?  the chalkboards cut down and waste while inviting interaction among guests. 
    addressing the “celebrity chef” comment - have you ever looked up ashley’s bio? the accolades she’s received were without a pr + marketing machine behind her; not the result of one.
    regarding the use of local ingredients and offerings, ashley (after andrea rusing of vin first then lantern) was one of the first to seek out and use local produce, meats, cheeses and the like.
    we’re lucky to live in a spot that has a lot of local food talent, and many are worthy of media attention.  what i find to be so odd, is why there are so many “haters” out there willing to tear down rather than build up.  wondering if its like that in other food Meccas like maybe portland or san francisco. i certainly support the flow of honest information, but would get the facts straight before you label an up-and-coming force in the food industry (not just our area, but the country) as “mediocre” and “unoriginal.”
    and last, why the call for more “fine dining” in raleigh?

  • k
    07/24 06:53 PM

    I agree with ab. In a city that is indeed up and coming, why belittle the fact that Raleigh is trying to create a fantastic dining scene? And whether you like it or not, Christensen is at the forefront of that scene. You’re right, Chapel Hill and Durham have amazing places to dine as well. But why wouldn’t you want to acknowledge that Raleigh does too. What you also may not understand is that the chefs of these fabulous local restaurants in Chapel Hill and Durham actually come to Poole’s to taste – and praise, Christensen’s cooking. You clearly have no idea about Christensen and her restaurants. You think she doesn’t use local? She uses some of the finest, local ingredients in town and she pushes the envelope on many of her dishes. You say you want Raleigh to have more “true fine dining” yet you bash Christensen for replicating – with her own twist, many dishes that are in your “high end cookbooks.” Make up your mind. Or better yet, keep your reservations at The Mint and Angus Barn.

  • Ken Metzger
    07/24 07:32 PM

    I think Raleigh has a very good selection for a nice dinner.  This would be my recommendations for dinner in Raleigh:  J Betski’s, Frazier’s, Mo’s Diner, Glenwood Grille, Jibarra, Duck & Dumpling, or Humble Pie.  I hear Tasca Brava, Second Empire, and Vin are all quite good, as well.  I would like more good inexpensive options like Rockford and Oakwood Cafe, though.
    If you are looking for ultra modern unique food like celebrity chef Gordon Ramsey’s, then I think you may be out of luck.  I, personally, can do without it.

  • kms1
    07/24 07:37 PM

    Ken makes a good point, only to say can someone tell me who the chef is at Frazier’s, Mo’s, Jibarra?  Great places, why is only one chef getting all the glory?

  • OCOG
    07/24 07:45 PM

    Glory is received when you hire a PR firm or have ties to the N&O;or similar outlets. Think Ed Mitchell at The Pit. Actually, Jibarra has N&O;ties, as they get a lot of glowing press there

  • kms1
    07/24 07:48 PM

    Great Point!!! Ed Mitchell was on Good Morning America Representing NC BBQ!!! How crazy is that? Anybody who knows anything about our great state’s history with BBQ knows we should be represented better!

  • ashleyc
    07/24 08:38 PM

    Wow, with a an upcoming election, and all of this hype over me (or not me?).  I’m surprised there’s still a soapbox to stand on. I don’t often get the chance to read these, but I heard this one was getting pretty thick. 
    kms1, I must agree that it is quite wonderful that Ed was featured on GMA.  The attention was much deserved.  As a member of this community, I am thankful to Ed for bringing attention to a great area where amazing, unique things happen, in the culinary sense and beyond.  So cheers to Ed Mitchell, our nationally recognized Pit Master.  If you haven’t been to the Pit, you should go.  We are truly fortunate to have him in our state, much less our city. 
    It’s funny, when I climbed into my 1990 Isuzu Trooper this morning, I didn’t feel like a celebrity.  It was 9am and I was headed back the kitchen that I left at 1:30 this morning.  If you want to know the secret, it’s the smile on my face.  I love what I do.  There’s more to the story, and I think your really missing it. 
    It goes without saying that you don’t know me.  You seem to have solidified that.  That being said, I think your mission is a noble one.  I want to help.
    First off, start with the positive.  Pick your favorite restaurant(s).  Make the list of reasons that you love it.  Don’t be vague.  Identify the special points of which your refined palate, or just your warm, happy stomach takes note. Think about the pieces of the experience that strike a special chord with you.  Write about it.  Write you editors of all of the trade magazines that you religiously read.  Blog about it.  Tell everybody specifically what is so special about it.  I think what your going to do is great.  I am behind you 100% and I even have some restaurants that deserve their piece of the action that I think you could play a big role in helping out.
    How do we kick this thing off? Let’s write a post together.  Let’s sit down for a cup of coffee and get this thing going.  As you know, my name is Ashley Christensen.  Call me on my cell phone (919)961-7327.  As you could guess, I’m slammed all weekend, but I do have time on Monday, maybe Tuesday. Hey, what’s your name?  Again, I’m looking forward to this.  Let’s not let it fall between the cracks.


  • kms1
    07/24 08:43 PM

    I admire your candor! I also admire how you addressed this topic! Well done.

  • Emily
    07/24 08:58 PM

    Ashley just burned you guys but in the nicest way possible. 

    Kind of makes me want to try Poole’s now.

  • ab
    07/24 09:03 PM

    you totally should emily. if you thought that response rocked; you should try the food.

  • emily
    07/24 09:05 PM

    I’ve been wanting to get there just never made it. 
    my fire is fueled a little now.

  • kms1
    07/24 09:06 PM

    I believe I might give it another go as well.

  • 12345
    07/24 09:41 PM

    Wow quite a stir surrounding a little diner in downtown Raleigh. As a chef myself I must give credit where it is due and Ashley put it best when she said

    “It’s funny, when I climbed into my 1990 Isuzu Trooper this morning, I didn’t feel like a celebrity.  It was 9am and I was headed back the kitchen that I left at 1:30 this morning.  If you want to know the secret, it’s the smile on my face.  I love what I do.”

    The life of a chef is long hours pained with a lot of love, hard work, and dedication. If for those reasons alone she should get as much recognition as the media will muster. Far too many great chefs are trudging day in and day out in the hot kitchen with a little more than a paycheck and maybe a thank you or two.

    Ashley has helped to bring the Slow Food movement to Raleigh as well as has now 2 successful ventures. Regardless of what one may think of the food, respect the craft. There are plenty of “famous” chefs that I don’t quite care for their food, yet I look up to them in regards to there hard work and dedication. Among other things be thankful that Poole’s diner has not fallen by the wrecking ball and another Raleigh landmark lives on.

    I have yet to eat at Poole’s but will try and get there soon. If it is anything like her other spot I am sure it will be more than satisfying.

    Hey Ashley! If kms1 doesn’t hold you to that blog I am always willing. I love the idea of getting local chefs together to discuss whats happening and what will be. Something this city could use more of, camaraderie. Good luck to you, and to anyone trying to build a small business in downtown Raleigh.

  • David
    07/25 05:56 PM

    Commenting in this thread is closed. Much of the conversation was manufactured by kms1 and kelseysukel who are in fact the same person:    Kelsey Sukel. Because of the malicious and confusing nature we have closed all comments in this thread by this user and we are closing comments for this article.

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