Back Alley Coffee in Wake Forest – Now Serving Espresso Drinks!

Back Alley Coffee Roasters ~ Wake Forest, NC

Back Alley Coffee Roasters is located in downtown Wake Forest on Brooks Street. It’s just around the corner from White Street Brewing. They are a local micro-roaster that also operates two coffee shops. Their flagship shop is located along with their roasting operation on Brooks street. Their second shop is in the Ledford Student Center on the Southeastern campus. Both locations started out serving pour over coffees, nitro cold brew and teas, but have recently added espresso drinks to the menu.

I stopped by the Brooks Street location last Saturday to try their espresso and had a fantastic latte. I also noticed that they have added some baked goods to their menu (supplied by local baker Strong Arm Baking). If you are looking for some great locally roasted coffee to give as a gift this holiday, or just want to check out a great new coffee shop highly recommend paying Back Alley a visit. Make sure you try their Nitro Cold Brew. It’s some of the best I have ever had!

Back Alley Coffee Roasters
314 Brooks St. Wake Forest, NC 27587

Instagram: @BackAlleyCoffeeRoasters
Twitter: @BackAlleyCoffee

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The Grinch Brings the Holiday Spirit to DPAC


Grinch 2010 Company
(photo by

Dr. Seuss’ How the Grinch Stole Christmas is now at the DAPC with performances through this Sunday. If you’re like me your first introduction to Whoville and the miserly Grinch was probably from the 1966 cartoon. Most you probably know the story, but just in case this is the tale of a grumpy old Grinch who lives in cave up on mountain overlooking Whoville.  He has a heart two sizes to small and seeks to destroy Christmas, a holiday the residents of Whoville adore. Of course as the story plays out, the Grinch is redeemed and finds himself getting swept up in the holiday spirit and finds the true meaning of Christmas and his place among the Whos.

The theatrical production is features wonderful sets designed by John Lee Beatty and costumes designed by Robert Morgan, inspired by Dr. Seuss’ original book, while the Music and Book of Mel Marvin and Timothy Mason breathe new life into this timeless story. It was wonderful to see the storybook come to life on the stage, the sets and the costumes look like they jumped right from the pages of the book and the colors pop on stage.

The cast is just perfect. Philip Bryan dazzles as the green hairy Grinch. He plays the character in a delightful sarcastic way that has the audiences laughing and cheering for him while secretly yearning for him to find redemption. Danielle Guilbot is equally wonderful as the precious Cindy-Lou Who, with a voice beyond her years and does a fantastic job singing in several numbers. The supporting cast playing the residents of Whoville are spot on playing their parts and bring strong vocal performances as well.

One addition to the telling of the story you will notice is the use of a narrator, which I thought worked really well for the production. Bob Lauder is great as “Old Max,” an older version of the Grinch’s dog and serves as narrator of the story. You are first introduced to him at the start of the show where he is seemingly on his way to heaven when he overhears the Whos signing in the town down below and is reminded of the events of that fateful Christmas Eve long ago. It’s fun to see Old Max reliving those moments as he recalls the story of the Grinch’s diabolical plan and the joy of his ultimate redemption. There are also some cute interactions between Old Max and his younger self.

A few things to know before heading to the show. It runs about 90 minutes long which I found to be just the right amount of time to keep the attention of the younger audience members. Also, there is no intermission, which I also thought was a good idea to keep the story moving and allowing the evening show to end just a little past 9pm. I don’t want to give to much away but there is one particular number that involves a little audience participation which I thought was a very nice touch to the show.

Seeing the Grinch at the DPAC was just what I needed to kickoff the holiday season and get me into the Christmas Spirit. I hope it returns again next year as I can see it becoming an annual tradition for Triangle families. There is still time to catch the show this weekend with shows on both Saturday and Sunday.

Dr. Seuss’ How The Grinch Stole Christmas! The Musical plays at the Durham Performing Arts Center Tuesday, November 29th through Sunday December 4th. For more information and to order tickets visit


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Weekend Picks: December 2nd – 4th


Now that the holiday season is upon us there are countless things going on each week. Below are my top picks of things to check out this weekend. Along with these special events I recommend putting the Chinese Lantern Festival on your calendar. This lanterns will be on display at the Koka Booth Amphitheater in Cary which through January 15th.


Live Music at Brew Coffee Bar in Raleigh
It’s First Friday Raleigh and that means downtown will be hopping! I recommend starting things off with a visit to Brew Coffee for some live music by Young Oaks playing some festive Christmas music, as well as originals off their newly released album! They’ll also have art and photography from CynthiaViola featured on the walls all month long and specials on draft beer. 


Historic Wake Forest Home Tours
The Wake Forest Historic Preservation Commission and the Wake Forest Woman’s Club will present their biennial Christmas Historic Home Tour on Saturday, Dec. 3, from 1-7 p.m. – rain or shine! Offered only in even-numbered years, the Christmas Historic Home Tour is a self-guided tour featuring several Wake Forest homes and other properties decorated for the holidays and open for viewing. This year’s event will also offer wonderful holiday music and much more! Tickets are $18 in advance (tax included) and $24 (tax included) on the day of the tour.


Rudolph’s Food Truck Rodeo in Knightdale
The RDU Mobile Food Association (RDUMFA) will hold its 2nd Annual Rudolph’s Holiday Food Truck Rodeo
 in Knightdale Station Park this Saturday from 12-4pm. The rodeo will feature 10 food trucks decorated for the holidays in addition to craft beer and cider. There will also be activivites for the kids linke bouncy houses, a visit from Santa and special musical performances by the Spectrum Carolers and the Wendell Middle School Jazz Band. Proceeds from the event benefit Meals on Wheels of Wake County. 

Boylan Heights Artwalk in Raleigh
From 12-5pm on Sunday. Local artists will display and sell their work from porches, homes and studios throughout the Historic Boylan Heights neighborhood. This is a wonderful opportunity to stroll through an historic neighborhood and shop for special gifts for the holidays. Make sure you stop by Rebus works as there will be several artists there as well in addition to Food Trucks Cousins Maine Lobster and Bam Pow Chow.

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How the Grinch Stole Christmas- This Week at DPAC!

Santa for a Day Close Up2

Brook Lynn Boyd and Stefan Karl
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Just in time for the Holidays, DPAC is proud to present the Triangle return of Dr. Seuss’ How The Grinch Stole Christmas! The Musical beginning November 29th through December 4th as part of the Encore Broadway at DPAC series. This is a special year for touring companies of The Grinch. It’s been 10 years since the show’s debut on Broadway and 50 years since the original broadcast of the animated television classic, which originally aired on CBS on December 18, 1966.

Full Cast Feast2

Grinch 2010 Company
(Photo by

I just caught the cartoon over the weekend and am looking forward to seeing the show come alive on stage with the magnificent sets designed by John Lee Beatty and costumes designed by Robert Morgan. All of which are inspired by Dr. Seuss’ original book, while the Music and Book of Mel Marvin and Timothy Mason breathe new life into this timeless story.

Old Max2

Bob Lauder as Old Max
(Photo by

In preparation for the show’s arrival in Durham this week, I had a chance to speak with Bob Lauder who plays “Old Max” in the production. You might recall that ‘Max’ is the Grinch’s little dog. You know, the unfortunate little pup that takes the place of the reindeer and pulls the Grinch’s sleigh filled with the gifts he stole from Whooville? In the stage adaptation, Old Max serves as the narrator, reminiscing on the events that happened  all those long years ago when he was a younger pup.

A native of Southern California, Bob has been performing his entire adult life. He’s shared the stage with Eric McCormack (Will and Grace), John Lithgow (Third Rock), Kristen Chenoweth, Robert Picardo (Star Trek Voyager), Cab Calloway, Joel Grey (Cabaret), Phyllis Diller, Marni Nixon, Marvin Hamlisch and comedian Red Buttons. When I spoke with Bob he told me that he really looks forward to playing this role every year (this will be his 7th season). Bob is an accomplished operatic baritone as well, he’s sung across the country with opera companies. You’ll get to hear his deep baritone voice in some of the shows’ most popular tunes.

When asked about what to look for in the show Bob was quick to point out the incredible sets. “The sets are simply amazing. It’s like they have been pulled right out of the book. Just like Dr Suess imagined them, but in 3D!” And while the costumes are equally impressive, this production should not be thought of as simply a costume show. “It’s much more than that, it’s about family, coming together, and where you belong”. Speaking of costumes, while the Grinch at first glance might be a bit scary looking to some as Bob explains it, “He’s a fun scary. To the children it’s a comedic evil. A big silly bad guy they can laugh at.”

DPAC is also planning a special sensory-friendly performance of the the Grinch on Saturday December 3rd at 11am. This sensory-friendly performance will be presented in a welcoming and supportive environment for children and adults on the autism spectrum and their families. Slight adjustments will be made to the production, including fewer loud noises and flashing lights that may be challenging for some audiences members. In addition to the adjustments made to the show, designated areas of DPAC will help make the experience safer and more enjoyable for those with autism and other sensitivity issues. You can read more about the sensory-friendly performance here.

Dr. Seuss’ How The Grinch Stole Christmas! The Musical plays at the Durham Performing Arts Center Tuesday, November 29th through Sunday December 4th. For more information and to order tickets visit

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Race 13.1 Half Marathon, 10K, and 5K in Durham – December 10th


If you are looking for a great local race to round out the 2016 running season I recommend checking out the Blue Cross & Blue Shield of North Carolina Race 13.1 in Durham on Saturday, December 10th. No worries if you aren’t quite ready for the Half Marathon distance as there are also 10k and 5k options as well in addition to a Holiday Fun Run for the kids.


The map above shows the courses for all three race options. The start of the race is at Northgate Mall just off Guess Road. I’ve run one other race in Durham and know first hand that there are some nice rolling hills in the Bull City, but there is also some great scenery with the course winding through some of the cool historic neighborhoods around Durham.


This is the race’s second year and I for one am glad to see a December Half Marathon option in the Triangle. Early December can be a pleasant time to run in this area, and with so many races scheduled earlier in the Fall it is nice to run in one more before the end of the year when you are already trained up.

With the race so close to Christmas, runners can expect some holiday fun throughout the course, including Santa Claus hats, jingle bells, drumlines and festive music.  The Kids Fun Run before the race is free with a suggested donation of $5 for the race’s charity partner, Heart 2 Heart Collaborative, or an unused toy that will be donated to Duke Children’s Hospital patients.


I think having a solid local race like Race 13.1 before the new year begins is a nice addition to the local running scene. Hope to see you out on the course in December! For more information about this race and to register visit

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