Submitted by Red Rover — Correspondent
Let's be honest. This has to be the city's favorite bar. Maybe it's name was an omen, portending good times to come.
The times of Raleigh are no doubt on display and coming to pass here. From the history laden walls, to the glimpse of the changing cityscape over the new roof deck (atop neighboring Stitch) overlooking Wilmington Street and a downtown deep in restoration, to the swarms of denizens that frequent the neighborhood pub all hours of every day.
Named for Raleigh's 1879-birthed afternoon paper (first named the "Evening Visitor" an ironic contrast to the staying power of its later (1901) homey name and eponymous bar, "Raleigh Times"), those scrolled walls showcase the relics of Raleigh, via the news-house that took home at 14 East Hargett Street around circa 1906, before the finally being subsumed by N&O (1955), which continued its publication until 1989 when the afternoon paper, well, died.
But what didn't die was its legacy, of which tippling titan Times has been brilliant in its restoration, quietly keeping the time of the city (OK, maybe not quietly. Just not in-your-face). Maybe it's why no matter what time, what day, or where you're coming from (the gym, the office, the wrong side of the bed) you're at home. There's no pretension. No costume. And it's not weird to see a suit next to sweats, a stroller-squad mom next to a freelancer next to a high professional or the leader of the free world for that matter (even Obama graced the sip spot on his May 2008 Raleigh stop-off. Because you just have to).
And now in its expansion occupying most of the block of Hargett that runs from Fayetteville to Wilmington, with the addition of a fourth bar room, another bar above it upstairs and a rooftop perch (the latter two open, for now, Thursday to Saturday and for special events), an even bigger stretch of sidewalk that is still endlessly filled with happy alfresco pubsters, and on the verge of opening a kitchen three times the size (not shocking, those pork nachos are like crack) success that should seem mind-boggling just makes sense.
And while the mood varied on all of my scattered recent visits zombified for the haunted halloween invasion that overtook downtown, somber on NFL Sunday after another devastating Panthers last-second loss (to the Falcons) OK, maybe I was just somber... and the buzz of the First Friday frequenters who filled the street-side for the Times Market and perched on the new roof above the vibe is, though, always the same. Welcome. Easy. Content. Just good.
So it seems, the Times is the city's Goliath. (You have to wonder how many city blocks it could scale before it didn't stay full of happy sippers). It's an ever-expanding money-making machine that works because it's just not about making money. It's just an honest pub serving up an honest pint. It's just the quintessence of Raleigh. It is the times.