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Empire Eats was founded on the cornerstone of community. 

People thrive when gathered together to laugh, reminisce, and simply be. By reshaping downtown Raleigh as a modern culinary destination within the city’s historic buildings, we’ve created space for individuals to learn, grow, and build relationships leading to the enrichment of our community as a whole.

With nine locally owned and operated eateries and a catering division devoted to authentic cuisine and exceptional hospitality, we’ve had the opportunity to design a variety of environments for your unique style. Whether you seek to enjoy traditional Eastern NC, whole-hog barbecue, authentic Lebanese mezze, or a perfectly brewed cup of coffee, our accomplished chefs succeed in preparing menus distinct in flavor while staying true to the restaurant's heritage.

To learn more about the celebration of food at each of our restaurants including The Pit, Sitti, Gravy, The Raleigh Times, The Pizza Times, The Morning Times, Square Burger, and Mecca, visit our “Restaurants” tab.

Our History


Empire Properties is founded by Greg Hatem in downtown Raleigh.


The Raleigh Times and The Morning Times open their doors on Hargett Street, in the former home of The Raleigh Times newspaper.


The Pit Authentic Barbecue opens in a beautifully restored 1930s meatpacking warehouse on Davie Street.


Sitti Authentic Lebanese opens in the historic Heilig-Levine building.


Gravy Italian-American Kitchen opens next door.


The Pit in Durham opens in the former 7-Up bottling plant, in the Central Park District of downtown Durham.


The Pizza Times grows out of The Raleigh Times' kitchen, and Empire Eats purchases Raleigh’s oldest restaurant, The Mecca.


Square Burger opens in the newly renovated Moore Square.

Our People