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Looking for a gathering place (drinks & light food) for a largish group after work in Durham or Chapel Hill after work…

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I need suggestions on somewhere that would be good for a largish (exact size is unknown) group of women to gather after work. The idea would be for it to be a social for a mixed group of professional women and women currently in law school, allowing for networking. I am looking for somewhere that would have a place that the group could gather & mingle with each other, but that wouldn’t charge a fee for the space. We want somewhere quiet enough that people can converse, but not so dead that early arrivals feel like everyone else there is staring at them. Cheap drinks are a plus.

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  1. Well I would have said Milltown right off the top of my head, but it isn't quiet. When I've helped with theatre performances at the ArtsCenter.. that is where we would usually wind up after closing shop. Don't recall drinks being cheap but there may be specials. I'll think some more on it while others give better suggestions.

    I think Top of the Hill has a private room but Id on't think they are cheap nor would you get it for free.

    1 Reply
    1. re: burgeoningfoodie

      When they were still open, we'd use Goldies for events like this. The food wasn't great but the (usually empty) space was great for stuff like this. I haven't been but I've heard that the new place in that space (R/R Grill?) is about the same.

    2. Satisfaction might do.

      So might Parizade.

      Don't try Revolution...

      Parizade and Satisfaction both have semi-private spaces that they don't charge for, last I'd heard, but I doubt they'd fit more than 10 to 20.

      If you're in the public space, they both have layouts amenable to walking from table to table to chat.

      Hard to say what would work without having a ballpark size for the group.

      You could call one of the larger Mexican restaurants like Torero's on 15-501 and see if they are willing to cordon off part of their dining room or reserve a side room for an hour.

      After work is a dead time for most Mexican restaurants and most have cheap drinks.

      1. maybe city beverage. they have a bar service area past the bar which might work. they also have a pretty spacious back area, but i think is aimed toward diners. pint nights ($3) on tuesdays and thursdays.

        there's a side room at tyler's durham on the dining side, not sure if they charge a fee to reserve that area. actually, a better option is to gather on the speakeasy side.

        there's also a room in bull mccabe's that used to be the nonsmoking room. might want to see if they would let you reserve it. however, moving around in that room might be tough with all the tables and chairs.

        depending on the weather, the outdoor area at parker and otis looks spacious.

        1. Spice Street might work well for what you're looking for, but the drinks aren't cheap and the food is so-so, really, at best and definitely overpriced. The interior is trendy but it's a large space. They run specials -- for instance, martinis are five bucks on Thursday nights -- which can keep costs down.

          1. What about somewhere that has live music (I don't know of anywhere, but figured you guys might)? It would be Friday March 19th, and my best guess on group size is somewhere between 20 & 60 (which is the range I get at day time lunch meetings when no special invitation is extended to students).

            3 Replies
            1. re: NC IP

              this may be a bit OT, but that day will be the second day of the NCAA basketball tournament. that means noontime start for the games; i would expect many places to be busier earlier. that also may or may not affect your ability to 'reserve' a space.

              1. re: NC IP

                With a group that size, forget about Milltown. The space really isn't laid out to accomodate large groups (except for the outside seating which will probably be too cold in mid-March), plus the servers don't seem to care for large groups. l've been there on two separate occasions with groups no larger than 10 or 15 people and both times we've gotten horrible service and EXTREME pissy attitudes from the servers.

                1. re: NC IP

                  On a Friday evening, I think you're going to find most places will require a fee or minimum if you get close to 40 or 60 people.

                  1. re: LulusMom

                    Don't think it is large enough but my mind can deceive me.

                    1. re: burgeoningfoodie

                      Oops, I never got a count on how many they were expecting.

                  2. I'm sorry to put a damper on your plans, but the conjunction of requirements you are looking for really doesn't exist if you're not paying for the space. And those places where you can take that many people aren't going to either have a) a place that the group could gather & mingle, or b) suit your "quiet enough ... but not so dead" requirements.

                    Places like Spice Street have spaces where people can meet and is one of the first I'd think of, but you're gonna end up paying for it one way or another.

                    Perhaps separating the meeting part and the cocktails & food part, and try to get Extraordinary Ventures for the first (you can have typical meeting coffee and water), and then a large restaurant where groups can break down into small groups (tables) as they desire.

                    If this is including women in law school, I'm surprised that none of them can reserve any space at either Duke or UNC Law school facilities.

                    1 Reply
                    1. re: fussycouple

                      This is a chain but Maggiano's has private spaces (i.e. totally separate rooms). I know Duke has used them before. I don't recall what the fee is for that but it is was probably cheaper than other areas. Bocci also has room but it's separated from the main dining but not closed off.

                    2. There are quite a few places that have private spaces or space for a large group that's a bit cordoned off. I can't speak to the cost of using those spaces, but I have listed some below. I've added an asterisk to places that have expensive drinks (expensive being relative of course!). My professional group has happy hours at Serena in Durham. It's decent food, a nice set-up and they're really accomodating. We used to meet at Mez - also nice, but it ended up getting quite expensive.

                      Some of these have already been mentioned
                      Maggiano’s has 2 private rooms that can convert to one big one. I think about 50 people per room
                      Parizade has private rooms of varying sizes
                      Satisfaction (kind of dingy private room, but it’s good if it’s super casual). I saw it last week and it looked like it would seat 20 or so
                      Weathervane offers private rooms for dining
                      I’m fairly sure that Spartacus, the Greek place on 15-501 has private rooms
                      Sitar India has a room that they can turn into a private room for you
                      Bocci’s off of Fayetteville St. has a private room for up to 40 people
                      *Nana’s but it’s going to be really expensive
                      411 West (I'm pretty sure they have a small private room)
                      *Blu Seafood can host private parties
                      Johnny Carino’s has a private room for about 20 people
                      *Dos Perros - I think they have private dining
                      *Jujube – semi private, up to 20 or so
                      Champps - I don't like this place much, but they have a good set-up and will easily accommodate your group at the bar tables.

                      1. Try Tyler's Taproom in Durham. The have a large separate room on the right hand side from the main enterance that can be closed off if needed. They do not charge for the space but you have to garauntee them a certain dollar or business for them to set aside the room for you. We used the space for a meet-and-greet with the coaches when the ACC baseball tournament was at the DBAP last year and that's the deal Tyler's made with us.