Seaboard Cafe, a beloved Raleigh lunch spot for decades, will close. Here’s when to go

A fixture of the Raleigh lunch and gardening scene is nearing retirement after decades in business.

The six-day-a-week lunch counter Seaboard Cafe will close this fall after more than 30 years. The Raleigh cafe opened in 1991, affixed to Logan’s Garden Shop and owned by Rick Perales.

Logan’s is set to move to a new location near the State Farmers Market amid the redevelopment of Seaboard Station, and the cafe won’t be joining it, owner Rick Perales said, opting to close a chapter as a neighborhood of Raleigh is remade.

“I just don’t feel like my kind of business would transfer like that,” Perales said.

Instead, Seaboard Cafe will retire on Sept. 28. Perales said he has tried to close the restaurant for months now, initially thinking he would close last October, then by the end of 2023, then June of this year and now finally, September.

“We’ve had a number of closing dates,” Perales said. “All I know is I’ve got to be there tomorrow. My staff has been here a little over 24 years. I don’t know if I’d be able to persevere without them....The future is the future. This is what’s happening.”

Logan’s Garden Shop announced earlier this month that it would relocate next year to the State Farmers Market, a return to the grounds where the company first opened in 1965. The move was prompted by redevelopment around Seaboard Station, the owners told The News & Observer.

An ITB oasis

Perales moved to Raleigh from Texas in 1988 and says that while he has a Biology degree, food and beverage was always an interest. He says he talked the Logan family into the concept of Seaboard Cafe over a two hour lunch at what was then a Hardee’s location on Peace Street and would later become the longtime Sunflower Cafe.

“I don’t know what happened but (Robert Logan) said okay,” Perales said.

The snack bar that opened on the back side of the garden shop initially served hot dogs and hamburgers, a menu that evolved over years, at times including a slam-packed breakfast and Mexican dishes like fajitas and homemade salsas.

“I didn’t know what I was doing at first,” Perales said. “We survived on a customer-base of Junior League women and Inside the Beltline customers shopping at Logan’s.”

Perales said Seaboard Cafe started with his business partner Tom Deak and that the restaurant started to find its footing with the direction of employee Mary Ferrar.

Eventually Seaboard Cafe developed a menu of burgers and sandwiches, salads, soups and pastas.

Despite months of neighboring construction, Perales said the the cafe remained a kind of oasis.

“My cafe faces the railroad tracks; I’m looking at the garden center from the back,” he said. “It’s tranquil and peaceful there even today.”

This week, as word has trickled out that Seaboard Cafe has set an end date, Perales said he’s seen longtime customers stop back in for what could be a last bite.

“A gentleman came in I hadn’t seen in 20 years, he used to work for Gov. (Jim) Hunt,” Perales said. “It’s been like that since people found out, they’re coming back to say hello. I really love my customers a whole lot.”

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