Craften is a new concept: the variety of a food hall with the hospitality of a full-service restaurant.
Opened by co-founders Max Trujillo and Kip Downer, it’s the first of two announced locations. The second will be in Clayton, a growing town in nearby Johnston County.
About the people: Max is a hospitality industry veteran and one of the hosts of the NC Food & Beverage podcast, while Kip is the owner of several Burn Boot Camp gyms in the Triangle area, including one next to Craften in Knightdale.
Why Knightdale: “My partner Kip already owned a building in Knightdale and had dreams of opening a food hall in Knightdale for years,” Max said. “He and I worked together to put his dream together.”
But towns like Knightdale are where want to be. It’s where people live and that’s where we can create a great local neighborhood vibe.”
We tried out the new concept to see how this new food hall idea works.
When you arrive, you pick a table. A QR code on the table allows you to start a tab from your phone, requiring a card, phone number and name. An employee checked in quickly, bringing waters.
Let’s start with drinks, a menu highlight: the cocktail list is extensive and complex. The long list includes “Mezcal in the Middle,” white sangria with mezcal, apricot, plum, Workbench Roaster’s coffee and Syrah, and “Sophisticated Smokeshow,” a gin-based cocktail with fennel-infused vermouth, seltzer and lemon juice, smoked with sage leaves.
Beer, including a house lager or house session IPA (pictured), and wine are also available.
To order, select drinks and food from different dropdown menus on the same tab.
Current food options include Fiori Trattoria, The Corner Venezuelan, Poblanos Taqueria and Finca Burger.
We ordered from three vendors, Fiori Trattoria, The Corner Venezuelan (arepas pictured) and Finca Burger, as well as a beer from the bar. The beer came out quickly to our table, followed within 10 minutes by the other items.
Payment: You can add additional beverages or food on your tab as you go. A link is texted to your online tab just in case you’ve closed that window on your phone. After you’re done, you close and pay your tab.
What else to know
The scene: Indoor and two levels of outdoor seating is available. The top level includes two seating areas with fire pits.
The lower outdoor level has lawn games, such as bags, large-sized Jenga blocks and Connect Four. Indoor seating includes tables and bar seating, with large garage doors that can be opened during nice weather.
Kid-friendly factor: This is the suburbs, so ease for families is important. Kids gathered around the lawn games and there are changing tables in both the men’s and women’s restrooms. The service component made it easy to ask for extra forks dropped, and we didn’t have to leave our table since the food was delivered to us.
Tipping: An 18% “standard service” tip is added to all checks, then you can add an additional percentile on top of that charge.
What’s next: Expect more Craftens to be planned in the suburbs and exurbs (like Clayton), bringing the “downtown feeling” to places outside of Raleigh’s city center, according to Raleigh magazine’s interview. Craften will serve as an in-between step for food trucks, offering a commissary kitchen and a stepping stone for their first brick and mortar location.
The cafe is opening Tuesday, and lunch hours will be announced soon.
Find it: 706 Money Ct., Knightdale, off of Knightdale Boulevard and not far from Knightdale Station Park. The current hours are 5-9:30 p.m. Tuesdays-Thursdays and Sundays, 5-10:30 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays.