Raleigh, N.C., is a place where entrepreneurial spirit and creative grit thrives, a place where the community collaborates for the greater good and where a people-first mindset has created such a high quality of life.

The small business owners below—and many others like them—are largely responsible for the place the Raleigh area is today, and many of them are now in need of help due to loss of business around COVID-19 concerns.

If you want to help, consider following small businesses on social media platforms, purchasing a gift card from their websites or just reading the stories we're sharing here and passing some along to your friends and family. Every ounce of support can help!

Angela Salamanca of Centro

For more than a decade, Angela Salamanca's Centro has been a staple in the Raleigh dining scene, serving upscale Mexican and Latin American dishes. As good as the food at Centro is, Angela's bigger impact has come by way of embracing the community and helping others.



Ashley Christensen of AC Restaurants (Poole's Diner and more)

When the doors to Poole's Diner opened on Dec. 13, 2007, chef Ashley Christensen was committed to building bigger and better things for N.C.'s capital city. Five additional dining and drinking ventures, a James Beard Award, many thousands of guests served and lives impacted later, it's safe to say she's succeeded.



Isaac B. Horton IV of Oak City Fish and Chips

Isaac B. Horton IV's entrepreneurial spirit led to the opening of the Oak City Fish and Chips food truck in 2015. Then he signed on as one of the first tenants at Raleigh's first food hall (Morgan Street Food Hall). Then he opened a free-standing restaurant in Southeast Raleigh. And according to Isaac, there's more to come.



Kristen and Mike Mullins of Slice Pie Company

This father-daughter pie company has racked up a significant number of accolades since formally launching in 2014 (the best pie in the state, anyone?), and the pies are popular enough that you'll want to place a special order ahead of time to guarantee availability at the downtown Raleigh pop-up store. 



Mark Doble of Aviator Brewing Company

Mark Doble has been brewing beer for more than 30 years, learning the ins and outs of the process before ultimately starting Aviator Brewing Company in 2008 in an airplane hangar at Triple W Airport in Fuquay-Varina. His beer empire has now expanded into pizza, barbecue and more (and we're thankful for that!).



Corbett and Julie Monica of Bella Monica and Stellino's Italiano

An homage to the family-owned Italian restaurants they grew up eating in, Corbett and Julie Monica moved to the Raleigh area 20 years ago and opened Bella Monica, a cozy pizza and pasta spot with a welcoming atmosphere that's come to be known as a local icon. In 2017, they opened Stellino's Italiano in a bigger space with a similar but expanded menu.



Cheetie Kumar of Garland, Neptunes Parlour and KINGS

For Garland restaurant owner Cheetie Kumar, music, food and creating a good time go hand in hand. The rocker-turned-restaurateur has her hands full as head chef at Garland while still taking center stage as guitarist in her band Birds of Avalon.



Sarah Yarborough and Victor Lytvinenko of Raleigh Denim Workshop

Homegrown may be the best way to describe Sarah Yarborough and Victor Lytvinenko’s foray into the world of crafting high-quality denim, and what began as a personal quest to create the perfect pair of jeans has turned into the bustling enterprise Raleigh Denim. The pair has spent the last decade sourcing denim from local mills, bringing an authenticity to the industry that is far from common.



Andrew Ullom of Union Special Bread

Andrew Ullom's Midwest roots, culinary school background and work under chefs like Ashley Christensen have culminated in one very, very good thing—the opening of Union Special Bread in 2019, where close partnerships with local food producers has made for a community bakery that creates good jobs and good treats.



Annelore and Norbert Gstattenbauer of Annelore's German Bakery

German natives Norbert and Annelore Gstattenbauer both come from families that knew the importance of food, and it shows when you enter their Bavarian-style pastry and coffee house in downtown Cary (where visitors come for the pretzels and stay for the Bee Sting cake).



Pam Blondin of DECO Raleigh

Before DECO, Pam Blondin worked in non-profit management where she excelled at connecting people and organizations. It was only natural that she bring that same spirit to her one-of-a-kind gift store, where she's been not just an eclectic retail shop owner, but an ambassador for artists and a mentor to other entrepreneurs.



Corbett Shope of Corbett's Burgers & Soda Bar

Not quite a hole-in-the-wall but certainly a hidden gem in Cary, Corbett Shope's eponymous burger shop can be easy to miss yet easy to love. A classic burger joint and soda shop with more than 250 glass-bottled sodas available, this family-friendly (and family-run) restaurant knocks it out of the park.



Saleh Family of Neomonde Mediterranean Deli

More than 40 years ago, four brothers from northern Lebanon immigrated to Raleigh, bringing with them a family recipe for pita bread that would eventually blossom into a bakery, a deli and market considered by many to be a local treasure. Still family-run to this day, Neomonde now produces more than 250 types of bread and has multiple locations.



Sean Degnan of kō•än and so•ca

Two veterans of the Raleigh restaurant community, owner Sean Degnan and chef Drew Smith have created one of the Southeast's best new restaurants in kō•än, a community gathering spot that serves Southeast Asia-inspired cuisine in a Zen-like atmosphere. 



Kawsar Chavez of Layered Croissanterie

Kawsar Chavez's pastry creations at Layered Croissanterie have dominated Instagram feeds ever since opening in summer 2019, and it's easy to see why. By her own admission, the elementary school teacher-turned-baker set out to create a "super Instagram-able" space that literally puts sweet, savory and decorated croissants on a pedestal inside the pastel-painted shop.


Header photo via VisitNC.com