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Jan 8, 2013 09:27 AM

Wilmoore Cafe in Raleigh Sold to Ashley Christensen

N&O's Andrea Weigl mouthful blog reports that the Wilmoore Cafe has been sold to Chef Ashley Christensen. The shop will close down after next Friday and reopen in March as still a coffee shop but with expanded evening and weekend hours and expanded alcohol offerings. David Fowle, the current owner / originator of the Wilmoore plans to take some well-deserved time off but then get a job so sounds like he's moving out of the coffee business. I wish him well with whatever he pursues. While the coffee and sandwiches at Willmoore are very good and it was nice to have another independent alternative to Chef Ashley and to Empire Eats available, the real draw for me was being able to chat with Fowle.

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  1. In a few more years we may be referring to the area as Downtown Ashley!

    1. Whats funny is that everyone seems to be making noise on the plus and negative side of her purchase, but her food is good. Where as no one talks about George Bakatsias buying or opening a nother place and the majority of his places are mediocre at best.

      2 Replies
      1. re: burgeoningfoodie

        I haven't heard any noise + or -. I just find it amusing how all her ventures are in such close proximity. I can see where that would keep things simpler for her from an owner/supervisor standpoint.
        Hence my Downtown Ashley joke, said gently with amused humor.

        Geo. Bakatsias on the other hand has had a wider geographic realm so to speak. He also, to my knowledge, hasn't opened so many places in such a short period of time.

        I'm not really seeing much similarity between the two except they are entrepreneurial souls both involved with food in the Triangle...probably dozens of others who fall into that description too!

        1. re: meatn3

          I got the humor. The similarities are in being prolific I guess. It certainly does help that she can check on any of her spots without much time or worry. Plus she lives not far from the area.

      2. Wonder if the prices will increase?

        2 Replies
        1. A la twitter feed It seems as if Ashley Christensen isn’t quite done spreading her foodie goodness all over downtown Raleigh. Most recently she purchased the Wilmoore Café (which will re-open in March under a new name), but we got word this week that she recently announced that she would be opening a French bistro and event space on Salisbury Street. We’ll firm up the details. Stay tuned.

          4 Replies
          1. re: burgeoningfoodie

            Thanks for the update. Wow! That's a lot of irons in the fire.

            I have had a tough time this week without being able to hit up the Wilmoore for their $5.95 daily lunch special.

            I also say an interview / article in the latest issue of Garden & Gun featuring Ashley Chrstensen. I'm betting it was done before the Wilmoore deal came together because one of the things she wanted to do was have a coffee shop with really great sandwiches, etc. There was a related comment by her about Raleigh not currently having a place where you could go and get a really good $8 smoothie and she wondered why not. I read it a couple of times to see if she was joking but I don't think she was. Maybe I'm woefully out of touch but are there lots of places selling $8 smoothies and, even more frightening, people buying them?

            1. re: Guilty Gourmand

              You read it correctly and your amazement is not out of place. I've really liked Poole's in the past and I still think Ashley Chistensen can cook like nobody's business, but the more I read about her, the less comfortable I am with her. I do get the feeling that's she's losing touch with the majority of Raleigh-area diners and, sad to say, there are far too many people who would think nothing of spending $8 on a smoothie. Clearly you're not one of them and I'm happy to say that neither am I.

              1. re: rockycat

                Well yeah for 8 dollars you can buy all you need to go home and blend the stuff yourself :-)

                I was just reporting because not everyone gets their news from the same sources and so you may hear about this from a different source 3 days from now.

                I guess a French Bistro wouldn't be bad to have in DT Raleigh. Is there already one?

                1. re: rockycat

                  $8 smoothie...gotta wonder.

                  I guess the plus is she is reinvesting in the community.

                  I hope she can pull if off with out sacrificing quality. Rapid growth of any sort always raises flags in my mind. Time will tell.

            2. The Wilmoore was a very *comfortable* place to be. I actually have qualms that Ms. Christensen can put together a coffee house style environment that is comfortable. Every place I've been to that she owns is uncomfortable, the worst being Beasley's.

              That I'm willing to eat at any of them at all is a testament to the food; but it's definitely in spite of the restaurant design and decor itself.

              1 Reply
              1. re: fussycouple

                Those trendy, rock hard, "15-minute chairs" are the worst! So uncomfortable! It's really disrespectful and anything but hospitable to customers. Yes, Christensen's new places are really bad.

                The new Pizzeria Toro in Durham also has horrible seating. My husband has no tush and it's excruciating to sit on these torture seats.

                Wonder if she will update the Wilmoore to downgrade the seating.