There's so much activity happening around the downtown retail and dining scene that we've had a hard time working all of it into one or two concise posts.
Not to be neglected among the PAC5 applications for City funds for building rehab and retail upfit, though, is the proposal by the Mike and Jason Scholtz to renovate -- transform might be a better word -- the building that once housed Anotherthyme on Gregson St.
The one-story structure would get a second, outdoor level with views eastward towards downtown. (Alivia's is visible in the rendering below as the green building just to the south of the Anotherthyme building.)
The three-bay structure, which previously housed a number of separate businesses and restaurants including eatery Mayola's Grill, was reconfigured for a single business in 1982 when the owner of Broad Street's Somethyme restaurant decided to open another restaurant, logically named Anotherthyme.
The restaurant closed last fall after a very long and successful run, ending its life as the local culinary bridge of sorts between the pre- and post-Magnolia Grill eras in Durham dining. As we first reported last October, the building itself was purchased by Mike Scholtz, himself with son Jason the owners and operators of Alivia's Durham Bistro next door.
The Anotherthyme awnings came down and a sign on the door has directed deliveries to Jason over at Alivia's, but all's been otherwise quiet on the rehab seen.
That changed with the unveiling last month of the planned reboot of the building into a two-story structure incorporating a rooftop deck.
Calling Anotherthyme's Mary Bacon "a pioneer," Jason Sholtz explained his family's goal was to preserve the legacy of the place as a groundbreaking site for dining and entertainment in Durham. (As noted in my Durham Magazine column this month, incidentally, Anotherthyme was the first restaurant with a full ABC permit to serve liquor on site -- something that made its bar, er, quite popular in the 1980s.)
"We're looking to take what she started and add more depth, more life to the Brightleaf district," Jason said.
Jason Sholtz described his interest in the grant programs as a necessity for the structure's condition. It was last renovated in the 1980s -- before grease traps to minimize food waste in the sewers were de rigueur, and before the Americans With Disabilities Act existed and applied to major renovation projects.
Add on top of that new building codes and requirements, and it'll be a tall order to rehab the structure. "We're falling into a lot of categories that she didn't have to," Jason said. "We do need help in the project, which is why we're here today."
The Sholtzes presented their plans before Durham's Partners Against Crime (PAC) District 5 group in August; the PAC's endorsement of this and other projects is a formal step for a number of business and building owners applying for building rehabilitation grants and retail-readiness programs for downtown and other targeted commercial areas.
If successful, Off Main will bring the first second-story rooftop deck business to downtown.
It's a concept that's been popular in places like Raleigh and Chapel Hill, the latter of which's Top of the Hill is a landmark on Franklin St.
Jason plans Off Main to be a restaurant, bar and event space, for parties or simply corporate day-trips off site to somewhere more casual.
"The one thing we just want to do is bring life back to that building," he said.
Of course, while the Sholtzes control some parking spaces over on Morgan, one challenge with any business in the area -- Alivia's included -- is where patrons put their cars.
Perhaps the name "Off Main" is ironic in that sense, since you certainly can't park "off Main Street" in either of the two lots controlled by the owners of Brightleaf Square.
"It would be great if we could get our friends at Brightleaf Square to come up with a solution to the parking issue," deadpanned Mike Sholtz at the PAC5 meeting.
(Brightleaf Square's owners have long taken what is legally an appropriately-territorial approach to defending their two surface parking lots for use only by Brightleaf Square patrons, though it hasn't come at the cost of the occasional bit of community grousing.)
Photo of the current Anotherthyme and background on the building's history courtesy Endangered Durham.