The Mint, Fins At Risk of Closing?

The Mint, Fins At Risk of Closing?

November, 11, 2008, by David

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We are hearing from several sources that two of downtown’s nicest restaurants are both at risk of closing.  After Riviera’s abrupt end early last week, it is sad to hear that two others may be in trouble. 

Sources close to The Mint are saying, “Things are not looking good,” “They’re not going to last much longer,” but “They may pull through.”  A source with Fins refused to comment, but several close to the restaurant are saying it is also in trouble.  The closing of these restaurants would be a major blow to the revitalization of downtown. Both offer upscale dining in modern settings, and both are key establishments in the growth of Raleigh’s downtown.

The Mint was so important to redevelopment in the eyes of the city it was partially funded with public money, a controversial move in many citizens’ eyes.  The restaurant’s closing would be a blow to the city government’s vision for the street.  Recently The Mint began offering some lunch deals to try to drum up more business. The economic woes of the nation are obviously hitting downtown Raleigh’s dining scene.  Patronizing these restaurants in what might be their final days may not save them, but both establishments should certainly be visited if they are closing, sooner rather than later. 

UPDATE: Raleigh’s Fins restaurant: We’re not closing

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

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  • Jake
    11/11 12:31 PM

    The Mint closing would be a shame. I just ate there last Wednesday and it was excellent; I remember commenting on how impeccable the service was.

  • highjoeltage
    11/11 12:47 PM

    Maybe if they didn’t spend so much on the decor they could reduce their plate price and get some customers. It seemed a little gimmicky to me.

    Example, the Raleigh Times Bar, great cheep food, amazing beers, outdoor seeting, $2 PBR and open for lunch on the weekend. It is a place were people want to hang out on a regular basis and can still afford to do so.

    Perhaps the Mint was an example of “Trickle Down Downtown Culture” Bring the rich people and the rest of the downtown will follow. Maybe the downtown revitalization needs to be handled like our economy, from the bottom up. Don’t think of these restaurants closing as a set back, just an adjustment. The downtown will come around we just need to find what works. Don’t be discouraged, just hope for progress. Yes we can.

  • hackles10
    11/11 12:49 PM

    Along with Prime Only closing…would be 3 major/upscale restaurants closing within months. 

    Hopefully these establishments, and downtown as a whole can weather the economic storm!

  • Kurt
    11/11 01:00 PM

    I’m with highjoeltage on this. Well put.

  • katieb
    11/11 01:36 PM

    additionally, people (i.e. me) don’t just want to come downtown to eat… there is not much to draw me down the streets of downtown on a saturday besides food and drink (unless there is a special event or festival)... while I enjoy both, usually to excess, I also need to fill the time between meals window shopping, perusing sidewalk sales, etc… I can however, go to a barbershop or get a tattoo after I enjoy my $2 PBRs on a lovely saturday afternoon. I definitely enjoy the galleries that are downtown, but would love more retail that I can walk to or ride to…. even CVS closes at 2 on Saturday. I love Stitch but need more retail and services… and I won’t miss the mint, I can’t afford it. Hopefully this just means something better will come along in it’s place.

  • TSnow27604
    11/11 01:49 PM

    highjoeltage, I too like the Times but what about special occasions or business people in town for an event at the convention center?  Or a night on the town and a show at Memorial Auditorium?  It seems that you are willing to do away with fine dining all together.  There are many places I care nothing about and don’t frequent but I understand that other people do and while I would be excited about a downtown full of Raleigh Times Bars, that would leave a whole lot of people out and downtown would suffer.

  • hackles10
    11/11 02:06 PM

    I agree with TSnow.  Even if the Mint and Fins weren’t your type of place, its obvious how they fit into an urban fabric.  You can’t just have rows of bars with nachos/burgers/$2 pbrs.  I have never eaten at either.  I like fine dining, but it just hasn’t been in the budget lately.  I usually go to places similar to these every 3-4 months.  Hope they can make it work, because the success of downtown depends on upscale/midscale/lower scale joints all being successful.

    I also agree that there needs to be more shopping/retail downtown.  Just not much to look at, browse for strollers/window shoppers.  I think eventually Wilmington street will see a revitilization, but that might take some time.  As the RBC building fills up with work staff, and some of the other projects come together downtown there should start to be more demand for shops/stores/eating establishments downtown.

  • Nosuchmiracles
    11/11 02:16 PM

    It would be a shame to see Fins go.  I love that place and it is quite possibly, the best restaurant in Raleigh.

  • highjoeltage
    11/11 02:21 PM

    I didn’t intend to go off on fine dining in general. I grew up working in restaurants and I can definetely appreciate a great meal. I was simply commenting on how downtown has to be a cultural destination with the food being part of it, including high end food. I just don’t think that a fine dining establishmend makes downtown a destination. I used raleigh times as an example of a place that is classy but still affordable.

    I think katieB is on the same wavelength as I am. Think about first fridays, people are downtown primarily to walk around and look at cool art, but they will also stick around and eat a great meal or have a few drinks. This just needs to happen the other few weekends a month or even some weeknights.

  • katieb
    11/11 02:41 PM

    The closings seem to be related to the current economic climate… call me crazy, but I don’t see Second Empire going anywhere - and it’s because they have a history in Raleigh. All these places we see closing are for the most part fine dining and are new (ish). They don’t quite have the following that some of the other places have and maybe they just aren’t going to make it because right now, that’s not where most people want to spend their money. It’s sad to see any business in our downtown fail, but I don’t think these events speak to what the future holds for that area… hopefully.

  • chelsea1
    11/11 02:52 PM

    To All: The Mint is stronger then ever. I love the restaurant and they will survive. I welcome anyone to visit. Stories of them closing is FALSE.

  • pdk
    11/11 02:54 PM

    its got to be hard for these downtown fine dining places to succeed when they are so huge. with the rent, labor and expensive top notch ingredients its got to be next to impossible to stay around especially during difficult financial times.  second empire is the only one i can think of that has stayed afloat but they have been pretty well established for a while. i truly hope fins stays open it is one the triangles best restaurants..

  • Elliot
    11/11 03:18 PM

    I agree with whats been said that The Mint and restaurants like the Mint have a definite place in downtown. I love Raleigh Times, hanging out, drinking down PBR as much as the next guy. But when its a Saturday night, and I want to impressive my girlfriend, I don’t think BBQ Nachos (no matter how heavenly they are) are going to do it.

    Plus, the Mint is an amazing restaurant with top notch customer service. Lets all hope they pull through.

  • John
    11/11 04:31 PM

    Not surprised these restaurants are at risk of closing. In the first place, the restaurant business itself is very risky—most new restaurants do not last more than a year or so. Second, both these places charge high prices for food that can be matched or excelled in quality for much less money either in downtown (Poole’s) or on Glenwood South (Zely & Ritz, Vin, to name only 2). In a fine restaurant, the food is what matters. Both Fins and the Mint are as much about glitz as they are about food, which is not a good strategy for success in difficult financial times. The new Italian restaurant in the new hotel is, I suspect, also at risk—Raleigh is not quite ready for the $30 entree when a lot of the money is going for location or decor.

  • Rafe
    11/11 05:19 PM

    Fins is not a new restaurant, they’ve been around since 1997.

    I am almost certainly as big a fan of Poole’s as you’ll find, but it’s not the same as Fins (or The Mint).  I’d like for there to be enough room in Raleigh for all of them, as they all have something interesting to offer diners.

    Losing Fins or The Mint (or, God forbid, Poole’s) would be a huge blow to Raleigh.

    If you haven’t made it to The Mint, you should at least try it for lunch. It’s affordable, and after your reasonably priced sandwich you can indulge in some of the most interesting desserts ever served in Raleigh. 

    Urban studies show that dining establishments are what draw people to a neighborhood and lead to further kinds of development. People show up to eat, and find other things to stick around for.

    In any case, I’m hoping that both establishments are able to weather these tough times. We’d be poorer for their loss. (I’d feel particularly bad for Fins, who left their more modest location in north Raleigh to move downtown.)

    This also makes me worry about Jibarra, which is scheduled to reopen downtown next month.

  • RaleighRob
    11/11 06:20 PM

    Of course downtown needs good Fine Dining options, but some of these places are so far out of reach for the average person, most people in this city will never visit them, even for the most “special occasion” of their lifetimes!
    I’ve lived here over 13 years and still never been to Second Empire even.  I’ve never been to Mint either, Fins once, Prime Only once, and Duck & Dumpling only twice.  It’s simply because of the prices.

    I think they have got to realize that in a city this size there are only so many people with six or seven-figure salaries to go around.  It’s finite.

    A nice night out to a delicious restaurant does not have to be ridiculously expensive. For good examples see Humble Pie, Thaiphoon, Hayes-Barton Cafe, or Irregardless Cafe.

    Sure there is a place in Raleigh for ultra high-end places like the Mint and so forth…but I just don’t really think we can support ALL of them…we’re not that big of a city.  Even with the new convention center, I don’t think there’s the customer base for all of them.  Some will not make it, I’m afraid. 

    I certainly hope I’m wrong, though!

  • Michael
    11/11 06:41 PM

    Has any restaurateur in Raleigh ever considered opening a simple, quality bistro? I’m a little confused about why so many restaurants that open downtown are so high concept. The choices seem to be nachos at Raleigh Times or unmerited expense and disappointing menus at Poole’s, Riviera and the like. The restaurants that thrive in cities are the small unpretentious ones with thoughtful menus and modest but considered atmospheres, not gigantic bank-themed restaurants that cost an arm and a leg or gimmicky, pretentious show-offs.

  • Robert
    11/11 06:45 PM

    The Mint has always had an affordable Bar Menu/lunch menu option - it just never got publicized.
    We offer this menu for lunch,in our M Bar upstairs and on our outdoor heated plaza.

    We haven’t promoted it because we were busy perfecting our amazing dining experience for dinner.  This is just the next step in our evolution.

    We want to be the destination for fine dining and for a great, quick bite when you don’t want to spend the time or money for the full dining experience downstairs.

    The M Bar/lunch menu includes Crab Salad, Philly Cheesesteak, 5 oz filet and other very affordable, great options.

    Our new winter menu is just out and includes an 8 course tasting menu from chef Jeremy Clayman.  We have also added some new menu items and specials.

    Please join us upstairs or on the heated plaza for our great M Bar Menu and downstairs for the amazing dining experience.

    Check our our menus at

  • ct
    11/11 06:51 PM

    Simple supply and demand. The supply of downtown restaurants—in response to excess hype—has exceeded demand.

  • disappointed
    11/11 07:27 PM

    I completely agree with Michael. Too many of these places are, as Michael put it, too “high concept” and, quite frankly, off the mark. Too gimmicky, often souless, and trying to be too much to too many people. Take for example the new “gastropub” on Fayetteville Street, The Oxford. I won’t say much given that I haven’t actually stepped inside or sampled the menu, but from what I can tell it fulfills all of the above criteria. “Gastropub?” It appears to be a glorified sports bar with a union jack. Calamari? A hostess station at the entrance? A large screen TV?

  • Rafe
    11/11 07:39 PM

    I can attest that the Philly Cheese Steak at The Mint is a great dish, and it costs like $8 at lunch.

  • Jenny
    11/11 08:41 PM

    Walked by The Mint’s $9 lunch sign on Monday afternoon.  The place looked dead.  I was on my way next door to Quizno’s, where there was a line.  I’m a business person, aka “suit.”  I ran into several past colleagues at Quizno’s.  I know Quizno’s isn’t fine dining, but it is what the people want at this point in time downtown.  I would like to see more affordable downtown places to eat for lunch.

  • Betsy
    11/11 08:43 PM

    We build all these glitzy expensive new buildings and then wonder why restaurants have such a hard time succeeding, and why we can hardly get anything downtown besides a choice between $2 PBR & chips, and high-concept high-price places. 
    The key is low-rent space, more specifically, OLD BUILDINGS.  We have (systematically or otherwise) removed much of our stock of old, paid-for, cheaper buildings downtown, and replaced them with new buildings, where rents are the highest. 
    The availability of low-priced space is essential for startups and experimentation, even more so in food service than in other lines of business.  New starts first need cheap space, then when they get their money “coming in regular” they can afford to upgrade.  Enabling that initial activity at that low end, though, is key.  Otherwise, only high-concept works, and low-mid concept never gets a foothold.
    Without the low-rent / older space, it’s always going to be tough to get innovative, diverse, abundant new startups, and I think that’s part of the problem we’re seeing here.
    Michael and highjoeltage are accurately perceiving the outcome of not enough low and mid-rent space:  most startups have to be high-concept to make the high overhead, or, if the prices aren’t high, quality has to be downgraded to the nachos & beer bracket.  I’ve got nothing against nachos & beer, but I’m with Michael and Disappointed—it would be nice to have at least bistro-quality food at a reasonable price.
    Sorry for the somewhat repetitive post here, and for the bumptious-looking dashes between paragraphs, but I don’t know how to make a paragraph in Bloglish or whatever it’s called (I had a pre-computer education)

  • Betsy
    11/11 08:56 PM

    One point of data that supports my case above, folks mentioned above some very nice bistro-or-better quality places that charge reasonable prices (Poole’s, Hayes-Barton cafe, Zely&Ritz;, Irregardless and Humble Pie)—— I would point out that all these “reasonably priced, bistro-quality restaurants” are located in older buildings and as a result they don’t have to charge $20-30 or more for the same quality of entree, whereas the new restaurant in the new Marriott will of necessity do so. 
    So if we want to create a setting where diverse and intriguing, but reasonably priced new restaurants will succeed, we need to try to promote the re-use and revitalization of such older and underutilized buildings that do still remain.  And there are downtown policies the city could adopt to help this goal, but so far we have mostly focused on attracting corporate skyscrapers and similar shiny objects.

  • Clyde Smith
    11/12 01:48 AM

    Great points Betsy.  And great workaround to the carriage return issue.  I’m going to try double returns this time and see what happens!

    I made some related comments over at the Capital City Grocery post but it’s dead over there.

    The cheap rent’s gone. Everybody’s been in speculator mode in downtown Raleigh.  I’ve been looking for space for an alternative performance project but it’s going to be tough to find anything downtown and that’s really sad.

    That also means that people like myself who aren’t bankrolled and aren’t planning on doing something that could cover these Empire type rents just don’t have a place there.

    That’s really sad because the fact that white people are comfortable walking around downtown Raleigh at night is so amazing.  It’s great we have big events that bring the whole community downtown but this game is taking out anybody that doesn’t play at certain financial levels.

    Which is why, though I hate to see businesses close cause I know how tough that is for everyone involved, I can’t get upset with high priced restaurants closing.

    By the way, I actually worked at Irregardless Off the Mall back in the 80s.  It had its problems but I sure miss it when I wander around and wonder where to get a bite to eat downtown.

  • Donna Wynn
    11/12 07:27 AM

    I totally agree with Michael.  Raleigh just doesnt get it.  I moved from Atlanta, and where midrange resturants dominated.  Try a Taqueria Del Sol, La Fonda, The Vortex, Doc Chey’s, I could go on and on.  A great concept, small but well thought out menu, and location are key.  Why did they open a ridiculous Shisha bar on Peace Ave, when we long for more Mellow Mushroom’s.  Geez, if anyone wants help me get a business loan I am all for starting up one of this cool resturants and showing Raleigh how it is done.  I am tired on Durham getting it, and we do not.

  • Food Lover
    11/12 10:25 AM

    Let’s all do our part to keep these fine establishments open.  I am a fan of both The Mint and Fins.  Yes, they are on the upper end of the price bracket, but its nice to have restaurants of all types.  Also, just because the entrees are on the higher end doesn’t mean you can’t get a reasonable priced meal at either place.  Very often I go to Fins and eat at the bar, with their separate, cheaper bar menu.  Please everyone, get out there and keep these places open, before its too late.

  • Jim
    11/12 10:36 AM

    Weren’t tax dollars apportioned to constructing Mint?  Does anyone know how much?  And does Mint continue to get tax $?

  • RaleighRob
    11/12 11:00 AM

    ^^Well it’s good some of these fancy places offer a cheaper “bar menu”, I guess.  Didn’t know it, cuz I’ve not seen these menus on their websites, yet.  Perhaps they should advertise it more.

    However, I dunno if it’s worth it, when there are other places that will give you full sit-down table service for the same price or less.  (Which I highly prefer over eating at a bar.)  But I guess I’ll look into it, at least.

  • Betsy
    11/12 01:01 PM

    It’s not simply about whether Raleigh “gets it,” because clearly everyone would like great food for reasonable prices.  It’s whether great food is *possible* at moderate prices, given the overhead.  Great food at moderate prices is only possible if a proprietor can find space in cheap to moderate rent. 
    And that’s where an abundant stock of more-or-less obsolescing buildings allow for greater diversity of uses, because of lower costs.
    Durham has lots of interesting but not necessarily expensive restaurants, partly because it has a lot of old buildings (not only historic buildings but also just so-so buildings), and cheaper rents facilitate better food at more reasonable prices. 
    High-end restaurants are also nice to have around.  And they, too, would be more likely to succeed through lean times, if moderate rents permitted them to offer a range of plates (which equals a larger customer base to carry them through a bad quarter or year).

  • Betsy
    11/12 01:07 PM

    On the issue of the city’s subsidy to certain establishments with your and my tax dollars, here’s something exactly on point from Jane Jacobs: 

    “Cities need old buildings so badly it is probably impossible for vigorous streets and districts to grow without them. By old buildings, I mean not museum-piece old buildings, not old buildings in an excellent and expensive state of rehabilitation - although these make fine ingredients - but also a good lot of plain, ordinary, low-value old buildings, including some rundown old buildings.”

    “If a city area has only new buildings, the enterprises that can exist there are automatically limited to those that can support the high costs of new construction. These high costs of occupying new buildings may be levied in the form of rent, or they may be levied in the form of an owner’s interest and amortization payments on the capital costs of the construction.”

    “However the costs are paid off, they have to be paid off. And for this reason, enterprises that support the cost of new construction must be capable of paying a relatively high overhead - high in comparison to that necessarily required by old buildings.”

    “To support such high overheads, the enterprises must be either (a) high profit or (b) WELL SUBSIDIZED.”

    (emphasis added)

  • N & O Article
    11/12 01:08 PM

    “The city spent $1 million to lure The Mint into the ground floor of its One Exchange Plaza building. That decision has increased the scrutiny on the restaurant, which opened in January and has yet to turn a profit.”

    News and Observer, August 3, 2008

  • Michael
    11/12 01:46 PM

    Betsy makes excellent points (with a little help from Jane Jacobs). I love the idea of a skyline, but old buildings are essential, not just for the affordable rent, but for a sense of authenticity. It seems more prudent to encourage the residents of Raleigh to stroll the streets of downtown on weekend nights discovering small satisfying restaurants that become favorites (therefore creating a reliable customer base) than it does to subsidize one extravagant restaurant that mainly serves the convention center set. It would have been nice to see that $1 million used to lure several smaller (and possible more successful) restaurants downtown than one highly specialized restaurant.

  • dillyb43
    11/12 03:09 PM

    Fins offers the freshest seafood in town—we are never disappointed.  The staff is lovely and gracious and the atmosphere is sophisticated and serene.  If you haven’t gone because you think you can’t afford it, do try the bar menu.  You won’t be disappointed.

  • cat
    11/12 03:40 PM

    I just received the December issue of Bon Appetit magazine and they have a list of the top ten seafood restaurants in the country.  Fins is on this list.  So, I ask myself, how can one of the TOP TEN seafood restaurants in the country be close to closing, if the rumors are true?  Well, because it is located in downtown Raleigh, of course.  North Raleigh just will not drive down here to support business.  They are scared of the parking, the one way streets, their car being broken into….it is just so silly to me.

  • Clyde Smith
    11/12 03:54 PM

    Betsy, do you have a link or source for that Jane Jacobs piece?

    I’d like to get a closer look at what she’s writing.

    $1 million on The Mint?

    This town is so f*cked up.

  • rk
    11/12 04:39 PM

    how come every time a restaurant or business closes, i have to read the comments of some guy with $50 in his savings account, and 75 bumper stickers on his subaru complain about the rental rates charged by property owners downtown.  here’s a homework assignment, save some money, buy an investment property, rent it for what the market bears and tell every retard with an opinion to the contrary to eat shit. 

    that said, i would like to see these businesses stay open.

  • Betsy
    11/12 04:47 PM

    Sure thing, Clyde.  It’s from “The Death and Life of Great American Cities,” which is the classic text on urbanity in North America, and probably the most influential city-planning book of the 20th century.
    Should be lots of cheap used copies out there on the web, or at Reader’s Corner or Nice Price.

  • ct
    11/12 04:52 PM

    It’s not that north Raleigh residents won’t drive downtown… merely that there are good restaurants in north Raleigh that are closer.

    To blame restaurant failures in downtown Raleigh on the fear of crime is nonsense. Lack of convenient parking downtown, though, is a widely perceived problem.

    More than that… look at a map. Depending on where one lives in north Raleigh, it can be closer (and often faster) to go into downtown Durham. Isn’t that ironic?

    Truth is, Fins screwed up big time by moving downtown. Greed, hubris, and disregard for the established customer base will nail a business every time.

  • Clyde Smith
    11/12 04:59 PM

    Betsy, thanks!

    Sounds like timely reading.

  • Clyde Smith
    11/12 05:03 PM

    “tell every retard with an opinion to the contrary to eat shit”

    rk - I can see why you remain anonymous.  I’d suggest staying that way.

    But that sort of attitude is what’s bringing me back in the game.

    Now who sells Mighty Markers around here?

    It’s time to beautify Downtown Raleigh!

  • MikeB
    11/12 05:16 PM

    Jenny said:

    “I ran into several past colleagues at Quizno’s.  I know Quizno’s isn’t fine dining, but it is what the people want at this point in time downtown.  I would like to see more affordable downtown places to eat for lunch.”

    Not trying to pick on you, but there are plenty of affordable and varied downtown places for lunch.
    Dos Taquitos, Roly Poly, Brass Grill, Mecca, Subway, Sam and Wally’s, Sosta, Manhattan Deli, 101, El Rodeo, Americas, Times, etc. Now, they may not be what you want at that point. 12-1 is not a good time to try and get in if you want something quick.

  • rk
    11/12 05:16 PM

    clyde,  congratulations for being back in the game.  i don’t know what that means.  though my comment was aggressive, it was broad.  it is silly for any of us on the sidelines to armchair quarterback all these businesses and second guess the decisions of the business owners. and it is naive on the part of many to claim that property owners charge too much for their properties.  i live and work downtown and i want it to thrive.  i applaud all the business owners that take the risk to bring us the restaurants, etc that we have.  i give business to most of them.  one of them will have my business within the hour.  later

  • MikeB
    11/12 05:23 PM

    ct said:

    “Truth is, Fins screwed up big time by moving downtown. Greed, hubris, and disregard for the established customer base will nail a business every time.”

    Based on comments made by Fins’ management, you are incorrect. W/regard to N. Raleighites not driving downtown, makes sense to me. Same reason I don’t drive to N. Raleigh; there are plenty of good restaurants here. It’s unfortunate Riviera closed - w/RBC Plaza coming online, there was an immediate audience.

  • prohiphop
    11/12 05:30 PM

    rk, thanks for your reasonable respoonse.

    Read the two sentences after that comment about being back in the game and I bet you’ll figure out what’s up.

    But since you’re being reasonable, you won’t be seeing your initials downtown.

    However, since I too tend to be aggressive, I’m changing my login from Clyde Smith, because others share that name in Raleigh, and going to prohiphop, my usual login name associated with my blog

  • dillyb43
    11/12 05:31 PM

    It’s interesting you claim greed, hubris and disregard for a customer base as motivating factors for Fins relocation from North Raleigh.  Perhaps, like many others who frequent this site, they wanted to be in on the revitalization of downtown.  Maybe they wanted to contribute to the energy and vitality of this city, while, god forbid, making a profit.  Lisa and William are honest, hardworking people successfully making a contribution to the culinary offerings of this area.  What are you doing to revitalize and energize downtown?  How much of your own money have you put into creating a business that employes and services other citizens of Raleigh?

    Again, another example of small-business-owner bashing by someone without a clue.  The only real thing that’s evident is that somebody has a chip on their shoulder.

  • ct
    11/12 05:41 PM

    Whoa, so now the critieria for being a good citizen of Raleigh is that I must invest in downtown? One could argue that my tax dollars for Wilmington Street rebuild, the Convention Center, and umpteen other tax-funded projects already constitute a significant investment! 

    As to job creation, I can’t even count the number of positions I’ve created over the years for my employer, but I’ll confess they are not in downtown. Of course, most of the job creation in the Triangle over the last 25 years has not been in downtown Raleigh. C’est la vie.

    I stand by my position that if Fins fails, they jumped the shark by moving downtown. And I liked the restaurant very much when it was in north Raleigh—too bad for everyone.

  • TSnow27604
    11/12 05:44 PM

    I see so many holes in the arguments being made and many are so subjective.  “Old buildings” vs new?  Riviera was in an old building.  I thought the food was good and decently priced but that’s my opinion.  It seems that plenty of non-DTRers make it into town for Downtown Live concerts and they are parking somewhere.  So is it parking?  The fact is that a high percentage of new restaurants fail.  We can talk about price and location and service and whatever but for the most part those are subjective things and we will never come to an agreement.  Fins may be too expensive for some and not nice enough for others.  It comes down to the management driving business and making it work.  In some places, a restaurant can rely on their name and reputation but other times they have to make it happen for themselves.  I took a small business class while at State and one of the main reasons for failure is that someone thinks they have a great idea, assumes everyone else will think the same way, do no market research, and open an establishment.  Bad idea.

  • dillyb43
    11/12 06:07 PM

    ct, i’m not saying that investing in downtown raleigh is THE criteria for being a good citizen.  I’m basically saying what rt stated…it’s easy to armchair quarterback and naive to second-guess the motives of local small business owners.  I’m also saying, imho, it’s really uncool to trash those that are trying—and putting their livelihood on the line—to make this a more interesting place to live (this being dtr, my neighborhood).

    In this economy, local business owners working hard to provide great quality and service need as much support as we can muster. It’s these businesses that are the foundation on which this nation was built.  Some of them have earned our loyalty more than others (and fins is on that list), but we all lose when they fail.

  • Michael
    11/12 06:13 PM

    I think the point in the beginning of this epic discussion was that many of the new restaurants downtown that fail do so because they misunderstand the desires of the public. The restaurants that open may be well-planned and conceptual, but usually not very inspired (decor or, most importantly, food wise). The issue of tax and rental rates was an explanation of why people with ambitions are opening restaurants and not people with dreams or talent.
    I don’t mind paying high prices for a meal if I feel I am rewarding someone’s talent and consideration of my experience in their restaurant. I do mind it if I realize after sitting down that I’m just rewarding another cynical investment group.

  • rk
    11/12 06:20 PM


    i reread your post. i’m not sure, but was your theme that you were going to graffiti downtown wit my initials?  confusing.

    also, i went to your blog.  i was actually glad your concept of alternative performance was hip hop related. i was worried you wanted to open a venue for hacky sack performances and open mike poetry. 

    take it easy….

  • ct
    11/12 06:25 PM

    Alright, dillyb43, perhaps our views are not so divergent. I don’t wish the Fins owners any ill-will. However, they had an objective in mind when they relocated away from a successful location and spent considerable $$$ to do so, not to mention leaving some customers behind.

    If you know it to be true that altruism for DTR was part of their motivation, I’ll accept that. At the same time, although I don’t know the owners personally, my years of business experience says that altruism wasn’t the only thing on their minds… whether they say so or not.

  • jullianenglish
    11/12 06:55 PM

    ct: WTF?

    I would really like to hear how a business moving from one location to another can possibly be evidence of “greed, hubris and disregard for the established customer base.” Seriously, I just want to get a feel for how this all might have gone down:

    It was a dark and stormy night. “Wife,” Will says to Lisa, “let us move to a downtown location.” “No, dearest. That would be wrong.” “How so?” asks Will. “Well, for one thing, we might make money, and that would be greedy. For another, we cannot forsake the good citizens of this neighborhood. Where would they go for seafood? They would suffer.” Will cannot hide the disgust that wells up from within, pouring from a dark place, a place that he never knew existed until this moment. He pulls himself up from his chair, glares down at Lisa, and bellows, “I am the god of seafood! I will have my way. To hell with these north Raleighites. Let them eat canned sardines, for all I care!” Smashing his chardonay glass against the wall, he walks to the door. Collecting himself, but unashamed of his rage, he slowly turns back to face wife. A small tear forms in the right hand corner of her left eye. His heart is untouched. In a soft, cold, and hollow whisper, he says, “I want to make all the money in the universe by selling seafood to downtown Raleighites, and I will not be denied.”

    Was it something like that? Fill us in on the details, if you have the inside scoop.

  • prohiphop
    11/12 08:33 PM

    rk - I’m surprised you found my comments so confusing but that’s not big thing.

    To clarify, I’m not planning a downtown hip hop venue.  In fact, I’m mostly scouting for someone else who wants to do something related to dance and performance art.

    Since I’m not situated to be a full participant, I’m helping out by checking out real estate, cause I dig real estate.

    Just my proactive way of helping build a downtown Raleigh that interests me and meets the actual needs of people I know and care about.

    But, if I’m sticking around, I’m definitely going to make my presence known one way or another.  So if high rents keep me on the sidewalk, that’s where I’ll do my work.

    Cause, at the end of the day, it’s about working with what you have to make the world a better place.

    Hey, can you tell I’ve just been reading Barack Obama tales at  That election did my heart good!

  • ashley
    11/12 11:22 PM

    It is irresponsible to churn up all this gossip and possibly hurt these restaurants—especially in the case
    of FINS where the owners said it was not true.
    You should remove this from your home page.

  • Chico Scott
    11/13 02:19 AM

    Fins is fucking awesome! The Chilean sea bass appetizer is the best dish in downtown. Fins ain’t cheap, but William D’Vray is one of, if not not the most talented chef in the Capitol City. It’s a high dollar, high class joint, and that takes a lot of patronage to stay afloat. Personally, my favorite restaurant is The Mecca, but we need places like Fins, and The Mint, and Riviera. We need upscale establishments downtown to let folks know that we’re more than a five dollar lunch. We have the condos and skyscrapers, now let’s support diversity, the arts, fine food, and a vibrant late night.

  • Elliot
    11/13 09:15 AM

    People won’t come downtown because peoples’ cars are getting broken into…..

    HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA!!!!!! Don’t worry North Raleigh, stay up there were its nice and safe!

  • highjoeltage
    11/13 10:45 AM

    Successful restaurants should want to move into downtown areas, it only makes sense to move where the people are. Unfortunately, in Raleigh it appears that there are more people at the north hills mall than walking around the heart of the city. Why? I don’t know, but don’t blame crime or parking, god forbid you have to actually use your legs from time to time. People don’t naturally flock to downtown Raleigh like they do in other cities. Hopefully this will change as people start to live closer but until then the city needs to work on its downtown culture as a whole not just the amenities. For example, can more restaurants be open for lunch on saturday or sunday, I would love to hit up the mint or other places for lunch sometimes but I doubt the average person’s job will allow them to do that.

  • tjoad
    11/13 01:53 PM

    “I would love to hit up the mint or other places for lunch sometimes but I doubt the average person’s job will allow them to do that.”

    I don’t know about you but a $9 quality lunch seems reasonable to me, and I would consider myself to have an average job.

    But even with a $7-$9 lunch, I wonder if it has to do more with the type of atmosphere people in Raleigh are comfortable with.  Raleighites in general are pretty casual in the way they dress and want to be in an atmosphere where they don’t have to bust out their Sunday best.

  • Acree
    11/13 02:32 PM

    Dear jullianenglish,

    You are awesome.


  • highjoeltage
    11/13 03:21 PM

    For me and others I work with it’s more of a time issue, not cost or fashion.

  • CF
    11/13 04:56 PM

    You don’t have to put on a 3 piece suit and dodge homeless people to eat at these places.  Just tuck in your shirt and ignore the oh so terrifying poor people.

  • MikeB
    11/13 05:03 PM

    CF said:

    “You don’t have to put on a 3 piece suit and dodge homeless people to eat at these places.  Just tuck in your shirt and ignore the oh so terrifying poor people.”

    Or kick in an extra $9 and buy them lunch at the Mint.

  • Margo
    11/13 09:23 PM

    I read the same quote you did in a totally different direction.  I was thinking, “it’s awfully hard to spend an hour and a half at lunch.”  I work in Cary, so I don’t have access to all the downtown spots for lunch, but getting out of the office, to lunch and back in ~1 hour is the concern, not spending a couple extra bucks for better food.

    Even Cafe Carolina is over $7 for a salad.  $9 at the Mint isn’t an unreasonable premium for a better lunch.

    I think most of us just don’t have time for a sit-down full service restaurant during the workweek.

  • prohiphop
    11/13 09:28 PM

    This has been a great thread despite some of the tension.  But there’s a lot at stake here when you step back and think about it.

    I was actually just talking to a friend about this thread and he pointed out a number of reasonably priced options (depending on what you mean by reasonable) that I hadn’t remembered and it made me realize that I’ve helped paint a somewhat lopsided picture regarding the range of restaurants downtown.

    On that note, I think we need upscale restaurants as part of the mix, even if I won’t be patronizing them at the current time.  I and many other well educated, hard working people can’t afford $9 lunches on the daily.

    If you think that’s rare then you’re out of touch with the actual lived reality of a large number of Americans.  Then again, this recession is going to change the whole game anyway and the market for $9 lunches will be radically reduced.

    I can work with that.  Can you?

    On a related note, since I don’t intend to stop commenting here unless they kick me off, I want people to know that I can be aggressive but I mean well.

    However, if I think you’re sincerely dissing the poor, as opposed to playing devil’s advocate or practicing satire, I will take your head if I can reach your throat.

    Peace!  I prefer it.

  • Dave in the burbs
    11/14 12:02 PM

    Did anyone ever think these places are struggling because of the LACK OF VALUE? I ate at FINS and couldn’t believe how small of a portion for the money I received. Same with the Mint…simply amazing. Build it and people will come? How bout, give me a good value for my money and I’ll keep coming back and back.

  • GD
    11/14 12:30 PM

    Lack of value?  Wow.  I thought the taste, the ingredients used and everything else made my purchase at FINS well worth it.  My service has always been excellent.  Whether in the restaurant or the bar area, the food has been amazing and hell, I can’t think of one thing to complain about. 

    Go to the cheesecake factory if you want a huge portion over quality.

  • disappointed
    11/14 02:06 PM

    I think most folks in this country (and in NC in particular, part of the “diabetes belt”) would do well to lay off the value and focus on quality.

    Note that since 1985 the CDC has had to create 4 new categories of BMI to accomodate the bulging waistlines of this country.

  • CF
    11/14 02:19 PM

    So, these places are failing because people want a huge, cheap meal want to wear sweat pants while they eat it?
    why don’t we just put a McDonald’s on Fayetteville Street and call it a day?

    I love both Fins and the Mint, by the way.

  • pal
    11/14 02:21 PM

    Dave, it sounds like you would be best fit by Golden Corral.

  • prohiphop
    11/14 03:03 PM

    I apologize if my participation in this thread contributed in any way to the emergence of this stupid exchange of weak insults.

    Except for the “diabetes belt” reference.  That’s a stellar move.

  • dillyb43
    11/14 05:47 PM

    I never leave Fins feeling unsatisfied.  The portions are just right—and leave plent of room for dessert!

    and i agree with acree…julian enlgish is awesome.  julian, are you single?

  • Acree
    11/14 05:57 PM

    Yes, and A/S/L?

  • prohiphop
    11/15 12:16 AM

    This post was just shown on WRAL news in a report on downtown resources as the source for the rumor regarding the possible closing of The Mint and Fins.

    Nice work, y’all!

  • jullianenglish
    11/15 12:17 AM

    I live downtown, I’m in my mid-40s, happily married, and very flattered. You made my night, Acree and dillyb. Thanks.

  • prohiphop
    11/15 12:17 AM

    er, report on downtown restaurants (which are resources but that was a slip).

  • corey3rd
    11/15 01:01 AM

    wasn’t the Convention Center supposed to bring in hordes of fat cats with massive expense accounts eager for prime dining? Meeker and his “monorail” crew present an instant rebirth of downtown. Of course now they want to revive the area around the RBC center. So who is going to get the attention?

    I live in North Raleigh and will wander downtown for a dinner now and then. The parking isn’t that bad. There’s always spaces in front of the News and Observer since nobody works there after dark anymore.

  • Dookie Gobbler
    12/19 06:06 PM

    Dear jullianenglish,
    You are not a bright person.

    Everyone needs to ignore this person’s ideas because they are against honest critique. Bravo, New Raleigh!

  • Jullianenglish
    12/20 06:02 AM

    >Dear jullianenglish, You are not a bright person.<< Damn! You got me. Looks like the jig is up. I’ll mail my Ph.D. back to the university whence it came. Seriously, I’m not against honest critique, but I rarely find uninformed, ill-considered, mean-spirited invective to be particularly honest or in any way useful as critique.

  • I"m downtowntown
    01/08 05:59 PM

    You people need to try Fayetteville Street Tavern, the longest standing bar and grill downtown

  • ESR
    01/30 10:42 PM

    Where is Gordon Ramsey when you need him?

  • MindCrime
    03/11 12:43 PM

    Reading some of these responses shows how lame people around here can be. Fins and Mint had smaller portions for a higher dollar than your local PBR hangout? That’s because the products they are getting cost more than the pre-sliced, packaged deli-meats your favorite local hangouts are passing off as good. To say you never eat at these places because you truly can’t afford it is one thing, but then again, most of you will spend 65 dollars in one night just on drinks and get late night food on top of it. Plus Fins is a nationally recognized restaurant- 2nd best seafood restaurant in the nation according to Bon Apetit? Obama didn’t just drink a beer there…

  • Al
    03/11 05:08 PM

    Should meat be delivered bleeding and barely wrapped in paper from the local butchershop to satisfy your oh-so-high-and-mighty culinary standards?

    Please tell us, wise one, where is this fresh meat butcher in Raleigh? How should everyone go about securing their fresh meat at an affordable price?

    Do you own a slaughterhouse?

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