A longtime Raleigh caterer is expanding its business with a flagship grocery store, restaurant and cafe near North Hills.
Ladyfingers – known in many southern and east coast states for its “gourmet take-out” meals – has been operating out of a small storefront on East Whitaker Mill Road since 1985. The company’s “Fresh Frozen Meal Solutions” are available in approximately 140 stores from Mississippi to New Jersey. But Ladyfingers has never touched the grocery store until now.
“We’ve been talking about opening our own market for quite some time,” said David Jackson, who bought Ladyfingers eight years ago with his wife Tudi, brother Daniel and father Dan. “This new market will obviously sell our frozen meals, but also grocery and convenience type items – products made in North Carolina and things you can’t get at your Harris Teeter.”
The 4,000 square foot space at 3710 Exchange Glenwood Place, Suite 1000, will open on November 15th. It will include a dining section where guests can enjoy breakfast and lunch, or soak up the craft beer and wine bar.
“We’re going to have handmade deli sandwiches and all of our charcuterie salads, that sort of thing, and take out stuff plus beer and wine,” Jackson said. “So this new store will have three or four different concepts at the same time. “
Jackson hired 11 workers to staff the new location. If he can turn 18, the restaurant could expand to include a dinner menu.
“The challenge has been the job market,” Jackson said. “We struggled to fill positions, and I think everyone is in that position right now. But I think we’ve found some great people and we’re going to do our best and work hard to open this place up and then hopefully hire a few more. “
For those unfamiliar with Ladyfingers’ selection, Jackson recommends the chicken pie, shrimp lasagna, okra, and their signature country ham rolls – the company sells about 100,000 a year.
“We had people drive over from Charlotte to buy them before we started selling them there,” Jackson said.
Non-traditional grocery offerings will include locally sourced nuts, jams, sauces, oatmeal and rice; organic soaps and detergents; and a wide selection of gluten-free products.
“I think people will be happy we’re here because we offer things that you can’t get in your chain grocery stores,” Jackson said. “… I’m not trying to brag about our product, but I think it does brag about itself. “