When we caught up with Happy + Hale co-owner and co-founder Tyler Helikson, he was picking up supplies to test a frozen avocado margarita recipe he was considering for Happy + Hale’s new North Hills location.
Craft cocktails with Happy + Hale’s fresh-pressed juices will be one of the North Hills’ location’s differentiators from its original location in downtown. The North Hills restaurant, which opens in June, will also offer beer and wine, full coffee service, and a weekend brunch. Helikson and his business partner Matt Whitley want to create a dining experience at North Hills that lives up to the restaurant’s name by offering healthy and delicious food in a great atmosphere with flawless service.
“I am really excited about the space,” he said. “Our North Hills space is an opportunity to elevate our branding and create a great experience for our customers. Someone could be having the worst day, but they come into our space, and they feel better about what they are going through.”
Since it opened in 2014, the downtown location has focused on healthy, tasty, takeout meals for the Monday through Friday work crowd. Many of those customers live in Midtown and North Raleigh and asked about a location closer to home.
“We felt like North Hills was a great intermediary between downtown and North Raleigh,” Helikson said. “The downtown location is a place where customers are in and out, and in our current real estate strategy, we are looking for locations like North Hills where we can be busy at all hours and customers linger and enjoy. We were getting requests from our downtown customers for a place they can go for dinner and on the weekends.”
Located in the Park District, the new Happy + Hale restaurant is 2,400 square feet with indoor and outdoor seating. It’s located near three boutique fitness studios and Midtown Park. This will be the fourth Happy + Hale location in addition to downtown Raleigh, Durham, and Greenville, South Carolina.
“North Hills has done an outstanding job curating its tenants and events and making it a place people want to be,” Helikson said. “The mix of fitness studios, apartments, and offices aligns perfectly with the people we are hoping to attract.”
While working as a wine representative and traveling the country, Helikson noticed the popularity of fast, healthy restaurants in large cities, and he thought Raleigh residents would embrace a similar concept. Helikson teamed up with Whitley—who he knew from his college days at NC State—to introduce a restaurant focused on the well-being of its customers, staff, and greater community. The company works with Compost Now to reduce store waste and is a supporter of urban farming.
“We are not in the healthy food business serving people,” Helikson said. “We are in the people business serving healthy food.”