Hector’s Closing

hectorsIt’s been a tough spring for food lovers in the area. Of course today marks the retirement day of the Triangle’s best restaurant, Magnolia Grill. However one of Raleigh’s best-kept secrets will dim its lights in favor of retirement, too, for two weeks from now.

Walid Sadak was a visiting student from Lebanon when he first took a job at Hector’s in Chapel Hill. Sadak’s dream was to go to dental school, however he eventually concluded it wasn’t for him. At the time Hector’s owner Nick Galifianakis (uncle of actor Zach Galifianakis ) had opened a second Hector’s location in Georgetown when he decided to give Sadak the rights to a Raleigh store as a graduation gift.

Sadak selected a space in the new Crabtree Valley Mall that would serve as the restaurant’s dedicated home for over a decade. (the space is to the right of the Kanki’s mall entrance). The store featured Hector’s trademark look: beige and brown mosaic tile walls, bright orange countertops, terra cotta triangle floor, and a pen and ink frieze depicting a Hector’s stand at a small carnival. The menu was exactly the same as the Chapel Hill store: skewered beef and chicken, a “Hero” sandwich on pita bread, hamburgers, and french fries.

Sadak was happy with the space into the 1980s, but the mall management wanted to consolidate its informal food vendors into one place with a common eating area. The “Food Court” craze was taking American malls by storm, and Sadak reluctantly moved his operation to the new space.

Three decades later Hectors stands as one of the mall’s few original tenants. While the Georgetown and Chapel Hill stores changed hands, moved, and eventually faltered, Sadak’s version of Hector’s grew into one of the best sources of ethnic eating in the Triangle. Along the way Sadak opened a Sutton Square location, a night club, The American Grill, and a phenomenal full-service restaurant on Hillsborough Street. None of them stood the test of time, however, and Hector’s remained Sadak’s primary focus,. He added excellent items through the years such as Raleigh’s first Greek salad and a falafel, and Raleigh’s best baklava, hummus, and tabouli.

Take time in the next two weeks to visit Hector’s for the last time. It will be sorely missed. I highly recommend the Greek salad, tabouli, hummus, chicken kabob, steak & cheese sandwich (with greek salad dressing), and the baklava.

Hector’s is located in the Crabtree Valley Mall Food Court.

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