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Alivia's owners propose bar/restaurant "Off Main" in old Anotherthyme space

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.)

Off-main-1

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.

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.

Off-main-2

But getting the likely 1920s-era structure from tired to two-tiered is not going to be an easy prospect.

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.

Comments

TSQ75

God help me, can this dynasty get any larger? :|

Tar Heelz

I'll let the architects chime in but, while I like the overall concept, what is with the strange building wrap in blue?

Jonn

I love a rooftop dining area, I just hope the food is much better than Alivia's. They know how to do patio space, just not food.

RWE

Looks like that tower addition on the south side of the building will close off access to the service court that presently contains their dumpsters, refrigerated food storage, etc. They might be better off developing that area as an enclosed courtyard than taking on all the code and structural issues associated with putting diners on the roof - especially since that "view eastward towards downtown" is really just a view of an enormous parking lot.


RWE

@TarHeelz

At least one of those blue additions must include a stair to get people to the roof level.

BlueGriffin

I agree that the rooftop dining is an attractive idea. And I do hope the food improves drastically in this iteration. Athough...I'm not sure I agree they know how to 'do' a patio...my recollection was that it was a little like lunching on an asphalt parking lot in Phoenix...my caesar salad ended up more like braised greens with anchovy paste.

barry

"The one-story structure would get a second, outdoor level with views eastward towards the Brightleaf surface parking lot."

Fixed it for you.

foodfreak

Not only is the food HORRIBLE at Alivia's, their attitudes is the reason why that place will never see us again.

Ben

I'm not sure I understand all of the bad vibes people are getting from Alivia's. I feel like they had a lousy first year, with lapses in service and food quality. However, for the past year or so, I've found the food rather good and the wait/barstaff very friendly and competent. Agreed, it's not going to hit quality levels of Watt's or Piedmont. But, with a great beer list, a tasteful number of TVs for game day, and a nice outdoor area, I find Alivia's to be a consistent go-to.

GreenLantern

How do you know what the overall view is going to be unless you've been on their roof? The other cardinal directions will give you a nice view of air conditioners, kitchen exhaust, and ugly rooftops. Why is the view of the Durham School of Arts, the Durham Skyline, and even the parking lot a bad thing? I really don't understand the negativity this early on.

Alivia's is a great place to sit outside in any weather. The food is fine as is the beer selection, plus you can listen to the music from Devines without actually eating at Devines (who's staid menu has not changed since 1985, with the exception of Buffalo wings which didn't become popular down south until later on.)

Anotherthyme had great food, but the building was poorly maintained, always in need of new paint. The floor was constantly wet from cleaning a worn-out carpet, the floor was uneven, and the building cramped, dark, and smelly at times. I swear there was mold in that place since I often had allergies after leaving. I hope the new owners will finally gut the place and hit the reset button.

PRGuy

I once pulled into the Brightleaf parking lot literally for 5 minutes so my nieces could buy candy at Parker & Otis. The parking attendant said this lot was only for Brightleaf customers even though it is directly adjacent to Parker & Otis. He charged us the full amount. Since then I've been less inclined to give Brightleaf merchants my business.

Toby

Here's the Endangered Durham write-up on the building:

http://endangereddurham.blogspot.com/2008/04/109-111-113-north-gregson-anotherthyme.html

One comment on the proposed rehab design: in reviewing the development plan, it will be important to get clarity on whether the proprietor hopes to use the rooftop space as a place to play amplified music. There are more and more people living downtown these days, and as our experience with "Club 9/Metro 8 Steakhouse" on 9th Street shows, it can take many calls to the police -- and, finally, a letter from the Planning Department regarding non-conforming use -- to get the late-night music moved back inside, where it belongs.

foodfreak

GreenLantern - Hit the reset button? Ooo no, Why not build a hotel there too, just in case the new 'Green la Fire Hotel and Resort' is full!

GreenLantern

Thought this sums it up quite well...just replace "Austin" with "Durham" to see where this is going.


""June 11, 2009 9:19 PM | Link to this

It is carpetbaggers like this that need to just pack up and go back to wherever they came from. They have no idea what Austin is all about or what made the company the carpetbagger works for want to locate in Austin. If you are stupid enough to buy a house or condo without researching the area for noise, traffic or crime then you really are not the genius you think you are. The Austin music scene was here long before 75% or more of these carpetbaggers got here but they all want to complain about the noise in their overpriced condos that were built right in the middle of the “Live music capital of Texas”. Think before you buy or go back to wherever you came from, preferably sooner than later.

By Bret Branon ""

GreenLantern

"GreenLantern - Hit the reset button? Ooo no, Why not build a hotel there too, just in case the new 'Green la Fire Hotel and Resort' is full!"

I have no idea what you're attacking me about. Do you have something against Greenfire, or change, or anything new that doesn't play homage to a place that was there before (that might have possibly been over-rated) just because it was there for a long time? Why do you think I would want a hotel there when there are or will be three hotels within three blocks of Brightleaf? All I like to see maintained is plenty of free parking so that the area (with our tax subsidies helping to open or keep some places afloat) serve everyone that doesn't live in any of the quaint neighborhoods within walking distance.

RaleighRob

I do miss Another Thyme. Have some fond memories. I hope this does happen and they succeed. Maybe even bring some of AT's old recipes back!

Tony

You mean he's going to pull permits this time?

tess of the durhamvilles

Before Anotherthyme was in that space, Maitland's bar/restaurant was there, serving food and mixed drinks. Maitland's built the beautiful wooden bar that was still there for the Anotherthyme years. The Maitland family had a number of eateries in Durham.

Khalid

Great quote GreenLantern...Downtown and commercial district is going to have some noise, light, etc. and hopefully PEOPLE on the streets.

Cornelius

Foodfreak - everyone will probably have a bad experience at one place at some time (or maybe you are a restaurant snob who likes to dislike things that everyone else likes, just to be different...but I digress)...Alivia's has a great atmosphere, good food, friendly folks and a good beer selection. It is a comfortable place to grab a bite to eat or have a drink or two, sit inside or outside etc. You cannot argue that...you cant. Ive been there many times and will continue to go back. Great location and atmosphere!

Greenlantern - I dont know your exact goal in your posts, but you make it sound like Wal-Mart just came in, accompanied by Microsoft, to buy Anotherthyme and make it into a McDonalds. I have lived in Austin for 5 years and know that Durham is no comparison to your rant. You are headed down a slippery slope that doesn't exist.

J-Dizzle

Wow...way to slam a place that consistently does incredible business... If you want to harp on a cesspool, you should start with other bars/restaurants in the area that continue to give downtown Durham a bad name...check your facts people, Alivia's out performs every other business in Brightleaf...

Bull City Rising

Stepping out of reporter/blogger mode and sharing my own opinion for a sec -- when Alivia's first opened I was pretty disappointed by the food and the service, and I think that turned a lot of people off. However, Mrs. BCR and I have found over the past year or so that it's a nice place to go when we want a quick bite to eat and don't feel like a "night out" at Watts Grocery or something like it.

The service is significantly improved, and while the menu isn't "adventuresome," sometimes that's exactly what we want. We went there on Labor Day with laptops to continue doing work over a late lunch/early dinner. My crab cakes hit the spot and I was able to get the final third of the RTP master plan article written, with the food coming out in about 10 minutes, and refills and the like were timely.

The only time we avoid Alivia's is later in the evenings on nights when the college students are out, since the patio and bar area get a bit noisy. But I'm happy to have Alivia's in the area, particularly since when the never-ending house renovation on Gloria is done it'll be just a few minutes' walk.

GreenLantern

"Greenlantern - I dont know your exact goal in your posts, but you make it sound like Wal-Mart just came in, accompanied by Microsoft, to buy Anotherthyme and make it into a McDonalds."

Cornelius: WTF are you talking about? I can't make sense of your analogy. Learn how to read and analyze a post before you just get aggravated and blurt out any old flibbertygibberblabbityblab that makes no sense what so ever.

Cornelius

Greenlatern - when I read your post I saw carpetbaggers, Austin, development etc. and I thought you were hinting at a large company, or one powerful person "taking over" the downtown area. I did not carefully read your whole post. On second look you are right. Perhaps I should not drink and post...

On a different note, why are you posting stuff at 3:20am?

Wendy @ A Southern Accent

Anotherthyme was our favorite place to go for dinner. Especially Valentine's day -it was always so special there, with fresh roses in bud vases on the tables and pink ribbons hanging down from the vines in the ceiling. I still carry one of those pink ribbons I picked from the floor years ago in my purse. The vines that covered the ceiling and the little twinkling white lights and the herb garden when you walked in - they will all be missed. And the bar was fabulous - so much character. I hope they are able to reuse it in this new space. Excited to see what this becomes and hope it is successful. I personally am a fan of Alivia's and love their food and atmosphere.

Jonathan

I'm surprised to see the comments about improved service at Alivia's in this thread. It's almost enough to make me give it another try. Almost.

We've had three very bad service experiences there over about 18 months, the most recent in May. And I am not difficult to please.

I wish them luck with the new space though. I like the conceptual drawings and I hope it works.

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