The Mint Hires New Investors, Lowers Prices

January, 09, 2009, by Jedidiah

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1. First, The Mint opened to a little bit of both love and hate (and taxpayers’ money).

2. Then came that infamous lunch sign, signaling “Eat Lunch Here”.

3. Soon after, rumors surfaced about the Mint not doing so well and was immediately followed by the announcement that they had lost their Operations Director and Chef.

2008 was definitely a tough year for the downtown Raleigh restaurant. 

Now, there is news that The Mint has “signed on a new pair of investors who will oversee day-to-day operations at the upscale eatery, which has been losing money during its first year in operation.” Losing money? Losing taxpayers’ money or its own? Let’s hope their own.

It is also lowering menu prices to ensure that it is not only a “special occasions” and high-end restaurant. This is an great realization and step forward in a shifty economy by the owners and a great start to the new year for The Mint. They say that sales were up in the last month of 2008. Let’s hope this keeps up or The Mint will have to figure out how to start printing their own money. Dollar Dollar Bill Ya’ll.

Photo from The Mint

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The Mint


  • salley
    01/09 07:53 PM

    i can’t speak to their dinner menu, but i had the chicken club sandwich at the bar the other night and my friend had the collards. both were really quite good and reasonably priced

  • raleighreally
    01/09 09:22 PM

    put a fork in the mint. let’s face it, if it weren’t for the absurd amount of taxpayers’ money given to the mint by the city, the mint never would have opened. no private landlord could have afforded to cover the up-fit costs, and when (not if) the mint closes the taxpayers will again foot the bill.

  • melissa
    01/09 11:15 PM

    the city of raleigh had been advertising that building specifically as a restaurant space. the $1 million reimbursement raleigh gave to rrg was applied towards bringing the building up-to-code & would have been given to ANYONE willing to take on the renovating of one exchange plaza.

    the $2.5 million rrg put in is what went towards furniture, decor, etc., & it’s that money—not the $1 million in taxpayers’ money—that’s taking the hit.

    like rick jones stated in an interview about the business of downtown in the last raleigh downtowner, in an economic recession the first budget cut people make is fine-dining. he & his fellow investors know that, & as a result, are trying to stay afloat by lowering their prices & making changes in management.

    times are hard for everyone right now, but more so for places like the mint & fin’s. but as jones says himself, rrg didn’t invest $2.5 million into the mint to stick around for only a few months.

    besides, downtown raleigh needs high-end restaurants now that the convention center has opened. not everyone who comes in on business from larger cities wants to have a shrimp burger at the times. (no offense meant, love all empire eats.)

  • MMI
    01/10 01:50 AM

    That’s good news for The Mint.  i like seeing a continued fine dining presence in Raleigh—one thing we have been sorely lacking for a while.  Then again, I’m probably spoiled, having moved here from a city known for easily-accessible fine dining.

  • Dave
    01/10 03:01 AM

    I was having dinner at The Mint this evening and the General Manager stopped at our table to tell us about the new menu that they would have starting next Friday.  The restaurant is going to start a 3-course lunch for $18 and a 3-course dinner fr $30.  $30!!  I asked if they had a copy of the new menu and I was able to look at the options.  It was INCREDIBLE!  The courses include scallops, salmon, filet mignon…this is not your average soup, salad, and main course.  The more than 20 choices for appetizer, main, and dessert are spectacular.

    The ability to now eat at an affordable price in such a beautiful restaurant will certainly keep me going back more often.  I also know it will be a first choice when eating in groups for lunch or dinner as we know exactly how much the check will be at the end of the meal per person….it makes it so easy to budget and plan to go out to eat without sticker shock!

    I for one am appreciative that The Mint is being responsive to the economy and providing affordability.  I already have a reservation for next Friday to try the new items….they also include small plates including Chilean Sea Bass!!

  • Betsy
    01/10 04:28 PM

    @ MMI - Where was that?  I would be interested in the details.  What do you think made the lower prices for fine dining possible in that city?

  • MMI
    01/10 04:33 PM

    Charleston.  It was probably driven by the combination of a strong tourism economy and the simultaneous desire to not SEEM quite so touristy.  It didn’t hurt that a Johnston & Wales campus was there at the time, either.

  • Lisa Jeffries
    01/10 04:34 PM

    “This is an great realization and step forward in a shifty economy by the owners and a great start to the new year for The Mint.”

    I also think it’s a great idea. Check out my comment on the TBJ article specifically about their bar business and (lack of) promotions/buzz about it.

  • MMI
    01/10 04:46 PM

    From the TBJ article:

    “Chris Hylton, former executive chef of Washington, D.C., restaurant Oya, and his fiancee, Cara Zalcberg, officially became part-owners of The Mint on Jan. 8. The pair will work on site as managing partners of the high-end restaurant.”

    “Jones says that for now, the restaurant’s management will stay in place – with Chris Franssen in the role of general manager and Eric Foster as executive chef. In addition to managing the restaurant, Hylton will serve as sous chef alongside Foster.”

    Ten bucks says that this is a Ron Francis-type deal, and Hylton will be the Exec. Chef within 6 months.  I hope they do a bang-up business.  Good to see what looks to be a pair of young investors making a grab for something good.

  • Betsy
    01/10 05:01 PM

    Huh.  Old buildings. 
    Thanks MMI

  • makessensenow
    01/11 12:36 AM

    Ooooohhh, so they were “cleaning house” for a reason. I agree with MMI, a change will be in the near future. I bet they are serving frozen food to go along with their 30$ dinner.Can you still call that fine dining? Such a waste. Thought that place was going to make it.

  • Researched
    01/11 02:16 AM

    I was skeptical at first after reading the $30 too…but I did research on Chris Hylton, one of the new investors and what he did between LA and DC is pretty incredible.  His restaurant OYA in DC is on Open Table’s HOT LIST of places to go and they have a prix fixe menu as well which gets great reviews.

    Something tells me The Mint is not going to serve frozen food and that is ridiculously negative…I think that taking the initiative and bringing in new investors who can help make The Mint affordable is a great move….I know that I will certainly try it for $30!

  • Woody
    01/11 03:04 AM

    Researched, so you’re saying they found investors who are willing to invest in losing money? You are absolutely correct, that is a great move!

  • makessensenow
    01/11 11:59 AM

    Fact. The previous owners were already wanting to serve frozen product before the chef left to cut even more costs. Bringing in new investors is great. I am hoping it does The Mint well. But you can no longer call a place fine dining if they are using frozen product.  Frozen lobster, perhaps? It IS back on the menu…  You should ask the next time you dine.

  • makessensenow
    01/11 12:22 PM

    Of course, not that they would tell you the truth…

  • Researched
    01/11 03:02 PM

    I am overwhelmed by the negativity surrounding The Mint shared by makesssensenow.  I hardly think the new investors are trying to lose money.  In my research I saw that Hylton was a chef at Linq in LA…Linq was profitable in its first month of operations and throughout its life in part due to his business and culinary savvy.  I genuinely believe that The Mint is being responsive to the comments made about it and trying to make their experience more affordable.

    As for the lobster, I guess with a new chef - there will be changes in food too.  Again, I’m willing to try it.  I think The Mint is beautiful and I appreciate the changes toward affordability.  I’m not going to cut it down before I even try it.

  • makessensenow
    01/11 03:09 PM

    Negativity? Not at all. I think you have me confused with a previous poster with the “losing money” comment. Simply stating the facts. I wish the place the best of luck. Just disappointed that it is not ending up being the fine dining establishment it was designed to be, that is all. It is a beautiful place and the idea was there.
    I believe there are quite a few posts on here that are way more “negative” than what I am posting. Again, just stating facts. Sorry.

  • stevieb
    01/11 03:12 PM

    Now it is called The eXchange at The Mint.

    For the love of God, can we just drop all of the snobbiness. The best restaurants in the Triangle and the world focus on three things:

    1) Comfortable atmosphere
    3) A well trained chef

    The Mint’s menu and decor shoots for being an upscale New York restaurant. Unfortunately, they missed by about three decades in both cases.

    Rip the tacky shit off the wall. Lose the diamonds in the bar and serve some food that was raised and grown in the area.

  • r
    01/11 03:34 PM

    The name of the restaurant is still The Mint.  The bar upstairs is being named The eXchange at The Mint.

  • wow
    01/11 03:58 PM

    My parents always told me..if you dont have anything nice to say, dont say anything at all…MMI, makessensenow…I think you should consider that. Its clear you were close to The Mint at some point in time, you both have way to much “insider” info. All the senseless cutting down of the place should stop. That restaurant deserves a fair shot…and I think you should give that to them, just a thought.

  • Isaac
    01/11 05:31 PM

    Can’t speak for anyone else, but if makessensenow is right about the frozen food angle, I appreciate the hell out of it. I can order Schwan’s to come straight to my door, thank you very much.

  • makessensenow
    01/11 09:15 PM

    “...if you dont have anything nice to say, dont say anything at all”...I think Thumper said that to Bambi in the movie. Cute! Not quite sure why you are personally attacking me for stating facts on this blog, but I appreciate the attention. Could it be that you yourself are an insider and mad that I am calling it like it is? AGAIN, as I posted earlier, I wish the place the best of luck. Just disappointed that it is not ending up being the fine dining establishment it was designed to be, that is all. It is a beautiful place and the idea was there.
    (and yes, I did copy and paste if you were wondering :0)
    Hopefully they can pull this off.
    Isaac, you are welcome. Looks like you are the only one that wants to hear the truth, though.

  • wow
    01/11 10:59 PM

    I would think the only peolpe with” the facts” work at the mint. Do you?

  • MMI
    01/12 01:30 AM

    What part of “I hope they do a bang-up business” seems negative to you?  I made a prediction based on the available information, and I still hope they do well.  Perhaps you have me confused with someone else.

    As for being an insider, I do not nor have I ever worked at The Mint.  I just like to keep up with restaurant trends here in Raleigh, and I tend to be pretty damned observant.  I have liked The Mint when I have been there, even if I think that some of the recent actions by ownership and certain employees are foolish.

    Any other questions to try to out me?  ;)

  • Peter Eckle
    01/12 03:31 PM

    The Mint was one of very few establishments approached to be on the Downtown Raleigh Walking Food Tour that actually declined the opportunity. I should say…they just couldn’t make a decision.  What’s to decide?  This is more like a restaurateur’s dream to have interested people (who don’t know much about you, let alone where you are located), learn first hand insights about your establishment and experience some sample tastings. A no-brainer.

  • makessensenow
    01/12 10:09 PM

    You can have facts without being an “active participant”...

  • MMI
    01/13 02:00 PM

    When was that, Peter?

  • Peter Eckle
    01/14 02:50 PM

    Re MMI’s question, the timeframe was around June, early Summer when the approaches were made.  The walking food tour continues, usually on select Saturday afternoons.

  • MMI
    01/14 04:13 PM

    Thanks, Peter.  Interesting idea.

  • extraifneeded
    03/29 09:05 AM

    Assuming someone has heard about them firing another chef, anyone know what they plan to do next?

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