How Will The Arrival of The Pit (BBQ) to Durham Change the Food Truck Vibe on Rigsbee Avenue?


The Parlour Suntrust lbv

I am sure you wouldn’t be surprised if I said part of what I love about living in Durham is the food culture and scene. Some top restaurants and chefs four of which are James Beard Award Semi-finalists call Durham their home but a large part of what makes Durham’s food scene so unique is the many food trucks that hit our streets. Durham has been extremely welcoming to food trucks versus neighboring cities and has found that they work well with local restaurants and bars. If you are a food truck fan, than you are familiar with Rigsbee Avenue. On any given day you can be sure to hit Rigsbee and find a truck worthy of some pretty tasty food. Motorco and Fullsteam have created a cool vibe, you can grab some good grub, a cold beer and wander to and fro listening to a great band but this vibe may change as they will be getting a new neighbor… The Pit!

A look down Rigsbee Street. MOTORCO on the left and Fullsteam on the right. The pit will be on the right past Fullsteam on the corner of Rigsbee and Geer Streets

A look down Rigsbee Street. MOTORCO on the left and Fullsteam on the right. The pit will be on the right past Fullsteam on the corner of Rigsbee and Geer Streets

The Pit best known for the whole hog barbecue they have been serving Raleigh since 1997, has purchased the former 7Up bottling plant and will be moving next door to Fullsteam this summer. There are some obvious questions, “what does this mean for our beloved food trucks?” Will it hurt their business? Sure the trucks have other places they can hock their eats throughout the city but will it change the Rigsbee vibe? With so many great traditional BBQ joints in town will Durham be accepting to one that serves BBQ Tofu for 15 bucks? How will parking be affected with an enormous 10,000 square foot restaurant moving in? You might say that there will not be much competition because you either head out for food trucks or a sit-down dinner but many are more worried about it changing the landscape.

MOTORCO GARAGE BAR lbv

Let’s add another layer to this story, Ed Mitchell, who was the founding partner and former pitmaster for The Pit will be opening up his new venture nearby. He is rumored to be looking at space overlooking the ballpark (Diamond View III). This spot would not have the “Pitmaster’s” digs in direct competition with any food trucks but it will be interesting given his abrupt split with real estate developer/ restauranteur Greg Hatem and The Pit in 2011. On the The Pits website in the “Our Story” page, you wont find any mention of Ed Mitchell. Even in its mention of beating Bobby Flay in a throw-down you would have to come to the conclusion that restaurant itself took down the celebrity chef and Ed Mitchell was not a factor. If Ed Mitchell does plans to make Diamond View his home you could assume, to cover the cost of such prime real estate this would be a high dollar BBQ spot like The Pit and not a nod to the original spot in Wilson the BBQ purist had hoped for.

Any way you look at it between The Pit creeping on food truck row and a possible Ed Mitchell/Pit BBQ Throwdown, things are heating up for the summer in the Bull City.

Motorco mainstay KoKyu serving up goodness across from The Pit's future home

Motorco mainstay KoKyu serving up goodness across from The Pit’s future home

Patrons enjoying good times outside Fullsteam Brewery while guy in blue hat photobombs.

Patrons enjoying good times outside Fullsteam Brewery while guy in blue hat photobombs

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Categories: Durham

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10 Comments on “How Will The Arrival of The Pit (BBQ) to Durham Change the Food Truck Vibe on Rigsbee Avenue?”

  1. April 9, 2013 at 2:36 pm #

    What are the tents in the photo Tori?

    • April 9, 2013 at 9:38 pm #

      It was an event held called “Marry Durham”. A commitment ceremony to love the city. Food trucks, a parade and venders. A general good time had by all

  2. April 10, 2013 at 3:33 am #

    Greg Hatem has done great things for Raleigh and Durham could use his help. Durham BBQ LOL. Maybe The Pit coming to Durham will show your little city how BBQ is done. Ed Mitchel??? without Hatem taking care of the business end this next venture will fail like his previous ventures.

    • April 11, 2013 at 12:35 am #

      C. Thank you for your input regardless how aggressive. Mr. Hatem had done great things in Raleigh and yes Durham can benefit from what he has to offer. Just hope the good times continue to roll on Rigsbee. And have you tried any of Durham’s BBQ spots?

  3. April 11, 2013 at 7:22 pm #

    From where I stand (well, sit) it’s a good thing to have a new restaurant coming to Durham, and i highly doubt it’ll damage the food truck scene. Heck, the more the merrier and there seems to be a pretty nice beer-food truck-music-bbq ecosystem developing along Rigsbee Ave. As for my own opinions of the food that The Pit dishes up, I’ll play nice for now. I’m interested to see how The Pit does when one of our local BBQ food trucks pulls up in front. Could make for interesting theater. Thanks for the post, good stuff.

    • April 13, 2013 at 12:50 am #

      Thanks for the input porky. Overall I think the Pit coming will be great for Durham. Hoping it will add and not take away from Rigsbee(still wondering about parking in that area). Have to believe they chose that area because they dig the vibe and hope to enhance it not hurt it. It shall be interesting.

  4. Roderick Allan
    April 27, 2013 at 5:25 pm #

    Due to Durham city rules, the food trucks will have to vacate a 500 ft. radius of The Pit restaurant. Hatem is looking to cash in on the Rigsbee vibe, then destroy it. Go back to Raleigh!!!

    • April 29, 2013 at 9:40 pm #

      Durham city rules specify 50ft, not 500ft. If there is one street in Durham that knows its roots and vibe, it is Rigsbee. My guess is that the Pit will have to assimilate to Durham. The other way around just won’t happen.

  5. Harry
    May 21, 2013 at 4:30 pm #

    Re. parking… From the N&O:

    “Hatem… noted that the purchase came with a 1-acre parking lot about two blocks away and another along Geer Street”.

    Read more here: http://blogs.newsobserver.com/category/tags/Greg-Hatem#storylink=cpy

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