Archive for October, 2012

Restaurant Review-Bolt Bistro & Bar

October 26, 2012

Bolt Bistro & Bar, A Relaxed Dining Experience!

Last evening, my wife and I had the pleasure of checking out the newest restaurant and bar in downtown Raleigh. Bolt Bistro, located in the previous Mint location, has an inviting atmosphere and is designed to be “new approachable, warm, and reasonable food experience” according to their website, Bolt Bistro. Unlike The Mint that had an upscale, special celebration feel, the Bolt has a more social and warm feel. The decor is inviting and warm. The bar has been moved downstairs for better access and they have added outdoor seating. If you cannot get a seat outdoor, not to worry, they have open window seating that allows you to enjoy the night air.

The menu is very affordable and intensive. My wife enjoyed her shrimp and grits and described it as the best she has ever had, which is saying much as she has partaken of this dish at many places throughout the Triangle and the south. It was more creamy than most of the shrimp and grits she typically enjoys. She had nothing but great things to say about her meal. She also enjoyed the Thursday night $5 martini while ordering two French martinis. She completely enjoyed her drink as well. For desert, my wife enjoyed a bread pudding with chocolate chips.

I ordered the ribeye steak as I am a huge fan of the ribeye. The steak was cooked to perfection and came with blue cheese topping. They happily substituted the Brussel sprouts with the garlic mashed potatoes for me. The steak had great flavor although a little tough in areas. For the price of a ribeye, it was a very good steak. The menu offers items such as lobster mac-n-cheese, calamari, hanger steak, salmon and many others. The lunch menu offers additional surprises for the diner.

The wine menu offers more than 30 wines by the glass, which is a little unusual as most restaurants offer a handful by the glass to force you to purchase a bottle for more options. Of course, they have an extensive list of wines by the bottle as well.

The staff was very courteous, helpful and knowledgeable. From the hostess to the manager to the water staff, they all asked us how our meal was and how we enjoyed our experience. The waiter, Daniel, was very attentive to our needs.

I would recommend this restaurant to anyone who wants a way to wind down and enjoy a nice meal in a relaxed setting. The decor is upscale enough to give the impression of a fine establishment, but the prices and congeniality of the staff make this an everyday dining experience. For those who works downtown, this will be a great new lunch spot that will not disappoint you. The manager/owner is very eager to please his customers and I have a feeling this place will be successful, due in part to the food, but more importantly, the staff. In any service industry business, the customer service is what makes the business a success of a

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Market Conditions for Fall 2012

October 19, 2012

The real estate market conditions are a mixed bag, depending on your perspective. In some regards, the market is doing much better than last year, but in other terms, not as well. According to the National Association of Realtors, the number of homes on the market nationally is down 17.77% over last year. Additionally, the median home price nationally is up slightly .78% to $191,500. These are very good signs of the market being much better than at this time last year. The age of listings are down over 11%, which means homes are selling faster than they were a year ago (95 days on market).

Locally, the trend is similar to the national trend. With median prices up .52% and inventory down over 18% over last year. This has resulted in Wake county experiencing a seller’s market to some extent. I say to an extent, since our inventory is down and our sales are up 24.76%. As a whole, Wake county is sitting at a 5 month supply of homes available. This generally is considered a seller’s market. Of course, if you look at the area breakdown, as you go up in price, the higher supply of homes that are available. For instance, homes inside the beltline priced over $600,000, you have a 7 month supply of homes. Some areas in this price range get into double-digit supply of homes.

Wake county’s average list price of homes went up 1% to $305,000, where the average closed price is $253,000. This means that the homes that are selling the best are the lower priced homes, leaving more higher priced homes. Of course, the monthly supply numbers bear this trend. Even though the list price is up and the median list price is up, it does not mean there has been appreciation in the market. This just points to the homes that are actively being listed on the market.

Year to date, Wake county is approaching 10,000 closed sales, which we have not seen since 2008 where we closed over 11,000 homes. For reference points, 2009 had 8835, 2010 had 8851, and 2011 had 8092. These are all great signs for the housing market in Wake County.

This tells me that if you have been considering selling your home or had tried last year, you may want to consider putting your home on the market today ahead of all of those from last year who are currently sitting on the sidelines. Nothing is perfect. So the issue with putting your home on the market today is the end of the traditional selling season is quickly approaching. From October to the end of the year, housing sales tend to diminish and it doesn’t begin to ratchet up until around March. The reason for this is most families plan their move around the traditional school year even though Wake county has year-round schools.

WIth the presidential election season winding down, more emphasis will be placed on next year. I expect 2013 to be a year where appreciation will be seen. However, after many years of depreciation, it may take a couple of years to get the value back to 2007-8 levels. Mostly it depends on the unemployment levels. If the economy begins to recover in earnest next year, we will see an increase in appreciation that may rival pre-2007 levels. This may result in homeowners regaining the lost value quicker.

In closing, forecasting market conditions is speculation at best. No matter how much data you review, ultimately it is all speculation. I am positive on 2013, although cautiously optimistic.

Ed Shook Golf Classic

October 3, 2012

 

Helping the least among us!

Last Monday, I enjoyed my second year as a player for the Ed Shook Golf Classic. Despite the weather, it was again a wonderful experience…though, I didn’t play well and my team had a similar result as the previous year. The Raleigh Country Club hosted this event for the second year, turning over the entire day to the Ed Shook. With nearly 200 golfers, we had a morning shotgun and an afternoon shotgun start. It rained during the morning, but cleared up for the afternoon golfers.

The Ed Shook Golf Classic is a fundraiser to benefit the Frankie Lemmon School. The Frankie Lemmon is a school for developmentally challenged children that has been operating in Raleigh since 1965. The school was started to fill a void when Frank and Georgia Lemmon’s down syndrome child needed a place to maximize his potential. Mr. Lemmon was the minister of the Hudson Memorial Presbyterian Church and the school was initially housed there with the first three students. It quickly outgrew that location and needed a larger facility. Hayes Barton Baptist Church offered its facilities at no charge for the school where it remains to this day. The school was later renamed in honor of their son, Frankie, after he passed. Today, they boast that they have offered more than a million hours of education and support for these very deserving children.

Last year, the Frankie Lemmon Foundation extended an invitation for the North Raleigh Rotary Club to join them with this fundraiser. In the two years, the Rotary club has raised over $30,000 for this tournament. This is the main fundraiser for the Rotary club as they share the proceeds they raise for this event.

The Rotary Club of North Raleigh¬†is a civic organization that is associated with Rotary International. It has projects that reach local, national and international causes centered around six core areas of focus: peace and conflict prevention/resolution, disease prevention and treatment, water and sanitation, maternal and child health, basic education and literacy, and economic and community development. North Raleigh Rotary was founded in 1966 and since then, has been instrumental in many projects such as the Guatemala Literacy Project, Ukraine orphanages, food drives, Latino health fairs, and Wake Technical Collage scholarships…just to name a few. It currently has around 65 members who are business leaders in their communities. Today, its dues collection has nearly reached a million dollars with money going back into the community that over the years has been more than 100 different projects.

Rotary International major goal today is the eradication of polio with its Polio Plus project. To date, polio has been eradicated in all but three countries in the world, thanks in a large part to the efforts of Rotarians around the world and the Bill Gates Foundation. Rotarians have come together to help cure many of the problems in the world today and continues to work to help the less fortunate among us.

This year, I had the honor and privilege (and sometimes stress) of heading this effort on behalf of my Rotary club. It was a stressful, but very enjoyable experience and one I would not change. I learned much about fundraising and creating a golf tournament experience that I hope to parlay into other successful golf tournaments. As you may know, the North Raleigh Rotary Club has a much more modest golf tournament in May to help raise funds.

To learn more about Rotary, the Frankie Lemmon School or the Ed Shook Golf Classic, please feel free to either contact me or click on the links to these great organizations. My father-in-law once said that his goal in life was to make the world a little better than it was when he was born. In short, that is the goal of both of these organizations…to make it a little better than what we inherited.