Exciting things are happening at The Cookery in Durham! The Cookery opened a little over a year ago as a state-of-the-art rentable commercial kitchen and has already had a tremendous impact on the Triangle culinary scene.
Now the folks behind this culinary incubator have expanded beyond the kitchen and renovated the remainder of the old Food Co-op building the kitchen is located in along West Chapel Hill Street in Durham to create a unique new event space called the Front Room. The Cookery’s Front Room will be used to host a series of pop-up restaurants, specialty food events, culinary workshops and wine and beer dinners, as well as private dinners and receptions.
A fundraiser event from noon-3p.m. on Saturday September 15th, featuring live music, food trucks, and local beers and wine will serve as the unveiling of the Front Room. Proceeds from the event will benefit the Durham Crisis Response Center’s emergency shelter, which provides a safe environment for women and children fleeing violent and dangerous situations.
Food truck favorites at the benefit will include Chirba Chirba Dumpling, Monuts Donuts, The Parlour, Pie Pushers, Sympathy for the Deli, and Triangle Raw Foods. Each is a member of The Cookery, where they share a state-of-the-art kitchen to prepare their culinary delights. Other Triangle chefs will participate, as will special musical guest Justin Robinson and the Mary Annettes. The Clever Vine will host a free wine tasting local brewers Bull City Burger and Brewery, Fullsteam, Lonerider Brewing Company and Triangle Brewing Company will offer beer tastings. Click on the flyer above for all the details about the Grand Opening Event.
My sneak peek inside the Front Room at the Cookery!
Back in late August, I was lucky enough to have the opportunity to get a sneak peak at the Front Room during the ongoing renovations as they prepared the space for the grand opening. It was awesome meeting Rochelle Johnson and Nick Hawthorne-Johnson, the husband and wife team who own and operate the Cookery and learn more about the space and their vision.
Below are a few pictures I took during my “sneak peek” of the Front Room that provide a glimpses of the interior space during the renovation process. All signs point to this being an incredibly unique event space when all the hard work is completed and look I forward to attending culinary workshops and wedding receptions there in the future!
The Front Room is both elegant and rustic at the same time. It captures the perfect blend of a historic space infused with a modern feel that makes for a warm and inviting event space that retains the character and charm of old Durham. The space can accommodate events with up to 200 guests and features a 20′ foot high ceiling, exposed brick walls, and original metal work from local metal sculptors in addition to salvaged metal and woodwork rescued from historic Durham landmarks.
There Front Room will have full wet bar featuring several North Carolina beers on tap. The bar is constructed with a metal base made from repurposed metal salvaged from an old three legged water tower that use to stand high above Durham. There are plans to add a foot railing along the bottom of the bar made from old trolley ties from trolley tracks that use to run right along the street outside the Cookery back in the day.
The bar top itself is made from old wooden shudders that once belonged to an old tobacco warehouse in Durham. I am a big fan of wooden bar tops and love that this one is made out of re-purposed wood that came from a source so closely tied with the city’s history.
When I visited, Nick was working on applying additional coats of polyurethane top coat to seal the bar top with a glossy, clear finish that brings out the character in the old wood. I think his hard work has paid off, as the bar looks awesome and I couldn’t resist taking a the close-up picture above to capture rich deep color of the wooden bar top.
My pictures of the main area of the Front Room don’t do it justice becayse my visit was during the hustle and bustle of the renovation. However, I wanted to include the picture above as it shows the perspective looking down on the main area of the room from the mezzanine above. I enjoyed how connected the two spaces are making it easy for guest to flow from one area to the other.
As you ascend the stairs to visit the mezzanine you can’t help but admire the intricate metal work along the railings. These functional works of art that adorn the interior were created by local metal sculptor Al Frega. Al is a large-scale metal sculptor, renowned for his ability to transform salvaged hunks of metal into beautiful pieces of art. Although it wasn’t installed yet when I visited, I was told Mr. Frega is now completing work on sculpting a beautiful metal gate that will be featured along the front entrance of the building.
The spacious Mezzanine area has loads of potential to be used for different functions at events and provides an unobstructed view of both the seating area and the large retractable doors opening to the outdoor patio. During my visit a local professional photographer was using the mezzanine area to do a photo shoot. I’m sure the exposed brick background and beautiful metal work made for fantastic shots!
Wooden drink railings will be installed along the walls throughout the mezzanine and on the outdoor patio, limiting the need for cocktail tables and freeing up space for guests to move around and mingle.
The exposed brick walls throughout the space remind you of the building’s long history and are highlighted by the warm lighting and plentiful natural light that spills through the many windows. The high ceilings and ample space really open up the possibilities as to how the space can be utilized. There are plans to add full audio/visual equipment setup including a 15′ retractable projection screen and projector that can be used for presentations at business meetings, seminars, and luncheons.
With a historic building like the one that is home to the Front Room, I think it is important that the fixtures, furniture & decor compliment the character of the historic backdrop. I loved the attention to detail in the renovation of the Front Room space and how the choices like the metal light fixtures installed behind the bar, the reclaimed wood drink railings, and the acid etched stained concrete floors all go together so well and result in creating a modern space that retains its original character. I can’t wait to visit again once all of the renovations are completed. Don’t miss your chance too see it – Check out the Front Room at their Grand Opening event on September 15th!
For more information about The Cookery and the Grand Opening of the Front Room visit their website or follow them on facebook. You can view more of my pictures from my sneak peek at the Front Room in my flickr photo album.
1101 West Chapel Hill Street
Durham, NC 27701 (Map)