Vernacular Studio’s 101 Lounge + Café is a destination for downtown Raleigh’s young professionals – and for the politicians who represent them at the state capitol.
It celebrates the transitions around it – and revels in its own dualities.
“There’s a lot of ‘form meets function’ there,” said Chad Parker, one of the Vernacular partners responsible for its 2008 conversion from condo to bistro. “That bottle display at the top of the steps features a bench that doubles as a storage locker – and that plane up and over the second floor lounge hides all the plumbing.”
Conceptually, 101 is based on the dichotomy of day and night. By day, the lower level bistro offers gourmet breakfasts and lunches, its interior dominated by a clean aesthetic. The upstairs lounge acts as a support space to the bistro, providing overflow seating and a secondary kitchen for food prep.
In the evening, the ground floor is servant to the second, while its bar provides the spirits consumed in the lounge above. The lounge’s atmosphere is relaxed and refined, emphasized by Brazilian cherry millwork and complementary earth tones.
And it’s still evolving, two years after it opened. “It’s kind of crazy, but we didn’t realize how much it needed a conference room,” Chad said. So they added three screens and a multimedia center upstairs to form a daytime retreat.
It all serves a loyal following of Raleigh residents in a rapidly recovering downtown district. “We’ve been there when it’s so packed you can’t even get up the stairs,” Chad said.
That’s a good sign for a new lounge in a growing capital city.
Photography by Mark Herboth