Downtown Raleigh Alliance exists to advance the vitality of downtown for everyone, and our storefront businesses are shining examples of the creativity in our community. It's a privilege to work with their owners and staff to make Downtown Raleigh a special place to live, work, and visit.
Co-owner of award-winning restaurant Plates Neighborhood Kitchen Justin Gallus shares in this interview his experience curating a unique, high-quality dining experience in downtown.
What’s special to you about the community in Downtown Raleigh?
The people who live in Downtown Raleigh are a wonderful support to local businesses. It is a welcoming part of Raleigh that caters to all walks of life. In our nine years at Plates, we have watched the Glenwood South area in particular transform from an entertainment strip into a true urban neighborhood, where you can work, shop, eat and play without having to own transportation. We feel honored to be at the geographic center of this development. We included the word “neighborhood” in our name for a reason: we have always wanted Plates to feel like a good friend’s house, where you’re comfortable in your own skin and know you’ll get a big hug on the way out the door. As Glenwood South and Downtown grow in size, the sheer volume of our connections with folks has increased, but we have not lost that friend’s house feel. It speaks volumes about how strong our community is.
How have you seen the food scene evolve since you first opened?
It’s still stunning to us, and a source of extreme pride for our city, that the vast majority of restaurants in Downtown Raleigh are independently owned. This was the case when we opened in 2013, and although the number of restaurants has grown since, it is still the case. The national recognition received by some of Raleigh’s talented chefs has gone a long way toward putting us on the map as a food destination as well. In 2013, I don’t know if I ever saw us growing out of the shadow of Durham’s food scene, but here we are.
What’s your food philosophy, and how did you grow into it?
Our original owner (and my esteemed business partner), Chef Stephen Day, developed our concept through a lifetime of travel and love for cooking. He believed that Raleigh was ready for a restaurant that takes the incredible bounty North Carolina has to offer – from the fields to the coast – and prepare it in a way that draws influence from the many amazing cultures he has experienced in his travels, with the menu changing constantly. We like to call ourselves globally inspired and locally produced. It is not an easy concept to execute, but it helps that Head Chef David Mitchell is a culinary genius, as well as an incredible teacher. He reminds us daily that we can be serious about our food without being pretentious. It makes it a joy to go to work every day.
How is the quality or value of your menu unique?
In addition to drawing influence from all over the globe, we are unique in that we have an ever-evolving menu. Our menu changes weekly and sometimes daily. This allows us to support local farms, local vendors and provide fresh, local products to our community. We take pride in using every part of our products purchased and creating as little waste as possible. Chef David does an amazing job at creating very familiar dishes in a very memorable way.
Anything else you’d like people to know about you or your restaurant?
We are pet friendly on our spacious patio! We also have a pretty cool coffee program highlighting rotating local roasteries. Come check us out starting at 8am Wednesday through Friday and 10am Saturday and Sunday for a delicious latte or small-batch pour over from Brian, our fantastic barista.
We also would like to give a shout out to the awesome people we’ve had the pleasure of hosting, interacting with, and often becoming friends with throughout the difficult last two years. The outpouring of support from our community during the pandemic has been a validation and a revelation for us. Downtown Raleigh residents truly value small business, and they seem to understand on a deep level the hell restaurants and their workers have been through during COVID. Thank you so much for the fuel to keep us going. We will continue to do our best to provide you with the same.