The Daily Tar Heel
Printing news. Raising hell. Since 1893.
Monday, Feb. 26, 2024 Newsletters Latest print issue

We keep you informed.

Help us keep going. Donate Today.
The Daily Tar Heel

This new food hall is bringing variety to Franklin

Vegan Flava Cafe at Blue Dogwood
Yah-i Amen, one of the founders and owners of Vegan Flava Cafe, engages with guests at the Blue Dogwood location soon to open to the public.

A mom-and-pop vegan cafe, a nut-free chocolatier and a gluten-free bakery – these are three restaurants that could not be found on Franklin Street until now. Blue Dogwood Public Market, a food hall opening Friday, wants to provide varied cuisines and local-sourced food to the town and help local businesses.

What started as a search for a bakery by now vendor and part-owner of Blue Dogwood, Kelly Taylor, ended up as an opportunity for local vendors to come together under one roof. Taylor owns a gluten-free bakery in Blue Dogwood called Pizzelle Bakery and her inspiration came from her own dietary needs. 

“I don’t eat gluten or dairy and I wanted to be able to eat somewhere,” Taylor said.

She said this space was too big for just her own bakery, so she came up with the concept for a food market. Taylor said Pizzelle Bakery is the only retail gluten-free bakery in the Triangle and her food comes from her Italian-American heritage. 

“It’s all Italian, but it’s kind of hodge-podge. It’s Italian-style recipes with Southern-style ingredients,” Taylor said. 

Kelly Taylor of the Pizelle Bakery talks about her gluten-free baked goods at the Blue Dogwood.

Taylor is not the only one whose restaurant sprouted from a dietary need. Husband-and-wife team, Maat Emmaakheru and Yah-i Ausar Tafari Amen, came up with the idea for Vegan Flava Cafe after their homemade food began to gain popularity in their travels.

“We would always travel, and we would always bring our own food because we knew the vendors wouldn’t be able to accommodate our dietary needs,” Yah-i Ausar Tafari Amen said. 

He said they want to make people with multiple dietary needs feel welcome and to introduce people to flavorful vegan food. He said they focus on being non-GMO, organic, soy-free and gluten-free, and that many of their recipes are transitioning to oil-free. 

The market includes many international vendors with a Latin American, plant-based booth and a Persian restaurant from long-time Triangle restaurant owner Mehti Haghshenas. 

Left Bank is a whole animal butcher shop in Saxapahaw, NC. Ross Flynn, butcher and owner, and Judy Shertzer, the soon-to-be manager of the Blue Dogwood location, talk to a guest about their products.

Haghshenas owns Rumi Persian Cafe, a restaurant that he thinks will bring a unique genre of food to Chapel Hill. 

“I think Persian food is very different from other foods because Persia used to be like 32, 33 different countries during the Persian Empire,” Haghshenas said. “It’s a very different kind of food. It’s delicious, it’s authentic, it’s medicinal.”

The market currently houses eight vendors including a locally-sourced animal butcher shop and in-house bar featuring beer, wine and cider. Most of the vendors’ meals hover around $8 per plate and there is both indoor and outdoor seating. The market officially opens this Friday and will be adding more permanent and pop-up vendors in the future. 

To get the day's news and headlines in your inbox each morning, sign up for our email newsletters.