In a few short weeks, Wilmington Street will welcome back The Busy Bee, a lively restaurant that stood on 225 Wilmington during the early part of the 1920s.
David Meeker, Chris Powers, and David “Woody” Lockwood have been working extensively to remodel the building to historic renovation standards. In addition to honoring the past in its name, The Busy Bee will display photographs of the “Busy Bee Café Restaurant” from its heyday. The three owners have labored to ensure that elements of the old be visible throughout the establishment, perhaps most notably by preserving the beautiful exposed brick that lines the interior.
The guys were kind enough to let me come in and take some photos of the renovation in progress.
A bronze honeycomb sculpture by Raleigh-native metalsmith, Mary Catherine Floyd, welcomes you as you walk in the door.
In late April or early May of this year, The Busy Bee will open for business with a vibe and service for every time of the day, from the early morning till the late hours of the night.
Starting at 6 a.m., a coffee shop on the first floor will serve the downtown work crowd by providing Counter Culture coffee and an assortment of quick grab goodies made in house. For those not on the go, a mezzanine area in the back will provide relaxed seating and wireless Internet.
Downstairs view towards the back and mezzanine level.
At 11 a.m., a full-service lunch menu will offer a variety of sandwiches, salads, and small and large plates made of local and organic ingredients by Chef Jeremy Clayman, available until the 2 a.m. closing. Also downstairs, an assortment of eight microbrew drafts will, according to Chris Powers, “showcase both brewing technique and quality ingredients.”
One flight up from the morning coffee drinkers and lunching professionals, “The Hive,” the Bee’s nighttime identity, will create a whole other atmosphere, featuring live music, DJs, and six specialty batch artisan brews. But perhaps most exciting is The Hive’s rooftop bar (downtown proper’s first, excluding Solas on Glenwood South), available for both daytime and nighttime seating.
UPDATE: The interior of the Busy Bee will be non-smoking. Smoking will be allowed on the outside roof deck, and on the Wilmington St. patio.
A hardware store in 1905, an auto store in the 1930s, and even an appliance store in the 50s and 60s, 225 Wilmington has been through a lot of changes. But looking back, The Busy Bee appears to have been the location’s glory days, and now, in 2009, all signs point to a very successful reincarnation.
How nice of the former Busy Bee to have “Ladies Invited”
The interior of the old Busy Bee before it underwent a renovation.
The interior of the old Busy Bee after the renovation.
The Busy Bee’s other life as Advance Auto
Historic images courtesy of North Carolina State Archives
Recent images by Ladye Jane Vickers