Raleigh Magazine Exclusive: Two new concepts anticipated to open in place of Rainbow Luncheonette and Pink Boot.
“I want to create a restaurant that actually represents the diner of Raleigh and not a chef-driven ego—a restaurant truly for the people of Raleigh.” So says chef Alex Ricci, most recently of Cucciolo Terrazza, who is set to open his first independent duo of concepts alongside partners Jonny Ennis (aka Jonny Rocket) and Justin Tatnell.
Those concepts, however, will have big shoes to fill. The trio are in talks with Jason Howard to take over just-shuttered Pink Boot and Rainbow Luncheonette to “activate the spaces better than we are,” says Howard, who before being approached by Ricci and team had no intention of selling the relatively short-lived yet wildly popular spots. And while the duo of West Street joints will certainly be missed, Howard sees the shift as an op to usher in the next era of budding talent.
“This is not a bad thing by any stretch of the imagination,” says Howard. “It’s a tough business. Let them have a crack at it.” Rest assured, Ricci certainly has the chops. Not to mention a cutting-edge vision that will deliver a whole new brand of dining and drinking to the area—and one that will very much be in collaboration with guests.
In Rainbow Luncheonette’s place, Ricci and his partners will be opening Prospects, a diner-esque eatery serving food till 3:30am (!) that Ricci has cultivated with, by and for Raleighites. To create the core menu, he tapped various friends, writers, chefs and other Raleighites for their favorite dishes—either from now or their youth. Think mac and cheeses, kabobs, sandwiches, and a variety of other fare on the dinner menu, plus twists on classic dishes like eggs Benedict, shakshuka, and chicken and waffles (an ode to Raleigh Mag!) for brunch.
Furthering the intention to truly design the concept as a representation of Raleigh, Prospects will also tout a massive chalkboard on which Ricci will chalk a question (like, say: What is a dish that reminds you of home?) and then feature his interpretation of those guest selects on the rotating seasonal menu.
“I decided since I’ve built the first core menu off of people who impact my life and, in my opinion, the [local] food scene, the entire concept should be cultivated like that for the public as well,” Ricci explains. “This is something that’s not necessarily about me. I’m just at the helm of it.”
As for the bar concept, aka The Devereux, the trio will overhaul Pink Boot to give way to a more sleek and modern design. While the details are still being flushed out, Ricci teases that the concept will be aesthetically similar to The Davie, and—spoiler alert—there will be boozy slushies.
“I’m doing the spaces a disservice,” says Howard, who is steering his focus on expanding his thriving concepts The Cardinal and Lil Hombre. “It’s time for a change—time to let somebody do it who’s young, hungry and passionate. I’m excited for those guys.” And, so, enter the next gen of dining in Raleigh. Excited yet?