The famous Poole’s Diner, previously known as “Poole’s Downtown Diner” celebrated its 10th year anniversary on Dec 13, 2017. It’s a massive milestone for anyone in the restaurant business. Now, unless you live under a rock or have had no internet access and any sort of communication with humanity in Downtown Raleigh prior to reading this, you’ve probably heard of Ashley Christensen’s name come up once or twice when talking about the best Raleigh hot spots and the exploding local restaurant scene, especially in Downtown Raleigh.
Christensen’s little baby that is all grown up now, Poole’s, was the very first restaurant she launched back in 2007 on her own, and still to this day remains the most successful one in her portfolio, which also may very well be the best restaurant in all of Downtown Raleigh – Like in the history of Downtown Raleigh, which is 200+ years old.
But is it really that damn good or is it just plain ol’ hype by everyone? Can a small “diner restaurant” actually deliver something truly worth getting excited about? Let’s do a deep dive into all of the most important numbers in the form of a quick analysis of 3,000+ ratings/reviews from some popular sites which we put a tremendous amount of trust in when it comes to decision making and basically rely on heavily for all aspects of our lives.
Poole’s Diner Restaurant Ratings
- Facebook: Rated 4.7 based on 689 reviews
- Yelp: Rated 4.0 based on 649 reviews
- Zomato: Rated 3.9 based on 553 votes
- TripAdvisor: Rated 4.5 based on 489 reviews
- Google: Rated 4.4 based on 391 reviews
- Foursquare: Rated 9/10 based on 298 ratings
- Yellow Pages: Rated 3.0 based on 57 reviews
So, thousands of people can’t be wrong… Numbers simply don’t lie. Poole’s Diner is that good it seems, as it is a solid 4 – 4.5 star restaurant any way you look at it, and with it’s many regional + national awards and rich history dating back to the 1940s – its certainly one of the best, if not the best local spots to grab a bite to eat in all of Downtown Raleigh.
Poole’s Diner History & Info
John Poole may have taken Winston Churchill’s words to heart when he opened Poole’s Pie Shop in 1945 at 426 S. McDowell Street. For six years the cozy spot was a veritable holy grail of pies–all sweet–but soon their patrons wanted more. In the early 1950’s, “chicken slick,” sandwiches, and a daily “hot plate” made their way onto the Poole’s menu, and the line to be served wrapped around the corner. The pie shop moved out, as Poole’s Pies became Poole’s Luncheonette, and a downtown hot-spot was born. We’d like to think it was the first.
In its latest incarnation, Poole’s has returned to its diner roots under the ownership of Chef Ashley Christensen. Marrying a clean aesthetic with retro-chic charm, Christensen restored and even highlighted the “bones” of the original restaurant, including the double horseshoe bar and red leather banquettes, pairing it with modern elements like Lucite chairs and oversized blackboard menus that change daily based on season and availability.
About Ashley Christensen
Since making Raleigh her home, Ashley Christensen has sought to foster community through food, philanthropy and the stimulation of the city’s downtown neighborhood.
Ashley began cooking while in college, throwing dinner parties for her friends and family. These intimate gatherings helped her recognize her passion for cooking and sharing food, and ultimately led to her first professional cooking job at the age of 21. Upon taking the position, she knew she had found her life’s work.
After working in some of the Triangle’s top kitchens, Ashley opened Poole’s Diner in 2007, which takes its name and décor from the building’s original tenant—one of downtown Raleigh’s first restaurants. The shotgun space offers an evolving chalkboard menu of comfort-food classics, re-imagined through a philosophy of locally grown, seasonal ingredients and French-influenced technique.
In 2011, Ashley opened three new ventures, all housed in a corner building once occupied by a Piggly Wiggly. Beasley’s Chicken + Honey is an ode to fried chicken and classic Southern sides; Chuck’s offers burgers and frites with signature updates; and Fox Liquor Bar, housed in the building’s basement, features a menu of more than 50 craft cocktails, as well as beer, wine and bar snacks.
In the spring of 2015, AC Restaurants introduced Death & Taxes, a restaurant celebrating wood-fire cooking with Southern ingredients, and Bridge Club, a private events loft and cooking classroom.
When she’s not in the kitchen, Ashley focuses her time on a number of local and regional charities. She has served as a board member of the Frankie Lemmon foundation and a co-chair of its annual fundraising event, Triangle Wine Experience. She has also served on the board of Raleigh’s Contemporary Art Museum and the Downtown Raleigh Alliance. She is an active member of the Southern Foodways Alliance and founded the biannual event Stir the Pot, in which she hosts visiting chefs in Raleigh to raise funds for the SFA’s documentary initiatives.
Ashley’s work has gained national attention from such publications as Bon Appétit, Gourmet, The New York Times, Southern Living and Garden & Gun. She has appeared on Food Network’s popular series Iron Chef America and MSNBC’s Your Business.
In 2014, Ashley was awarded the James Beard Award for “Best Chef: Southeast.” Her first cookbook, Poole’s: Recipes and Stories from a Modern Diner, was released in the fall of 2016. Eater.com named Christensen the Chef of the Year in 2017 and the News & Observer awarded Ashley the Tar Heel of the Year award as well.
This post was created in collaboration with the 919 Blog editorial team for exclusive digital publication on 919Blog.com via The Triangle Blog Network