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If there’s a limit to how many bars and nightclubs one city can support, downtown Raleigh hasn’t found it yet.
At last count, downtown’s multiple entertainment districts had about 60 nightlife options. In the past month or two, seven new bars have welcomed their first party crowds. Each hopes to fill an untapped niche in the local scene, whether it’s nostalgia for the 1980s or a desire for more patio seating.
Coglin’s Raleigh opened its doors on New Year’s Eve, a few doors down from Big Easy on Fayetteville Street. Zack Medford, one of the owners, said the bar offers a trip back in time.
“We really want to capture the feeling that we get when we think of what life was like in the ’80s and ’90s,” Medford said. “We really want Coglin’s to be something nobody’s ever seen before.”
The walls are adorned with posters from “Ghostbusters” and “Top Gun.” The cocktails have names like “99 Luftballons,” “Corey Feldman” and “Rock You Like a Hurricane.” Sometimes the bartenders even dress the part.
Medford figures he won’t be the last bar owner to join Raleigh’s main street. “I think Fayetteville Street’s going to keep growing, and there’s always room for unique themes,” he said.
The side streets in the downtown center are popular too. When the e-cigarette bar Volcano Cafe and Lounge closed on Hargett Street, the space wasn’t vacant long before the upscale Royal James Lounge took its place. And on Morgan Street behind The Borough, The Warhol opened in recent weeks as an LGBT-friendly bar.
The bar scene is growing even faster a few blocks away in Glenwood South. On North Street, Clockwork opened last month with retro decor, though its atmosphere hearkens more toward the ’60s or ’70s. ViewBar also opened last month with multiple screens of sports and a full food menu.
Cornerstone Tavern, a recent addition to Glenwood, is gearing up for warmer weather. Its indoor bar is small, but the building is surrounded by a 5,000-square-foot patio.
“It’s going to be fantastic in the summertime,” owner Dan Lovenheim said, adding that he plans to feature about 100 craft and local beers and live music on Friday nights.
Lovenheim, who owns the nightclub 606, has also added a second club called Myst in the former Krave restaurant space. Myst is among several Glenwood South clubs billed as an “ultra lounge” aimed at young professionals.
Is downtown’s nightlife scene nearing a peak? “Not even close,” Lovenheim said.