Arthur is collecting Irregardless' patrons' stories for his new cookbook... which he hopes to write in the next several years. You are invited to send in your story - some of which are already collected below - to email@example.com . Arthur thanks you for the effort with a $10 gift certificate to the Cafe.
Stories from Irregardless' patrons young & old have been collected under the following headings:
First Date 'Club'
It was a cold, foggy, drizzly night. I thought I was to meet my old friend, Charlotte at the Irregardless Cafe for dinner that night. However, I had noted the wrong night on my calendar. I was waiting in the foyer of the restaurant when a nice looking man walked in and asked me, “Are you Susan?’ As I later learned, this young man’s name was Tom and he was to meet a blind date there that night. It had been arranged through an ad in “The Spectator” magazine! Well, we began talking there in the foyer. Finally, he said, “I don’t think Susan is going to show up. I’ll just go ahead and eat.” Now, the hostess that night was Donna and she was trying to be a bit of a matchmaker as well. She even suggested we just have dinner together. I also remember her mentioning something about naming our firstborn after her! But, I decided to continue to wait for my friend. I was on a first date here in 1978 with a woman who had never been to Irregardless before. She liked the menu, the food, and the atmosphere. She was impressed with the generous portions, and could not quite finish her dinner that evening. When I asked if I could help her out with that, she readily offered me the remainder of her eggplant parmesan. She was smitten and so was I, not to mention being very full. We were married shortly thereafter, and had one of our wedding parties at Irregardless for our familes and friends. We have been coming to Irregardless over the years and have enjoyed watching its evolution, even as we have evolved, bringing our children, friends and out-of-town guests back to sample the wonderful never-disappointing food. Ken Schere & Ellen Bauman
By this time I was pretty worried about Charlotte since it was such a nasty night. I went out to try and call her on the pay phone. Remember those days? Of course I couldn’t reach her. When I came in, I asked Donna to go ahead and seat me. As we walked right past Tom’s table, I stopped to ask him if he minded if I ate dinner with him. He responded, “sure!” Pretty original, huh? I believe we both had Chicken Napoleon for dinner. Well, we just enjoyed talking to each other and found out we had a lot in common. At one point, Tom mentioned his mom had taught him to make pies and they were his specialty. I coyly responded that I had never made one and didn’t know how. Finally, our dinner was over and Tom offered to walk me to my car. He took that opportunity to invite me to his house to make a pie the next night. Of course I took him up on it.
At one point during our courtship, I gave Tom a copy of The Irregardless Cooks and he impressed me by making the spinach lasagna. Well, we married June 18, 1998. We have two beautiful sons, neither of which is named Donna. We have been blessed with a happy marriage and consider the Irregardless our favorite restaurant for many reasons (like your open faced sandwich, lemon tahini dressing, and pastel shanty). We celebrate two anniversaries each year at the Irregardless, one to celebrate our wedding and one to celebrate a very special Irregardless evening that would change our lives forever- for the better. We love you guys and we love The Irregardless Cafe.
Leslie, Raleigh, NC
It was a cold, foggy, drizzly night. I thought I was to meet my old friend, Charlotte at the Irregardless Cafe for dinner that night. However, I had noted the wrong night on my calendar. I was waiting in the foyer of the restaurant when a nice looking man walked in and asked me, “Are you Susan?’ As I later learned, this young man’s name was Tom and he was to meet a blind date there that night. It had been arranged through an ad in “The Spectator” magazine! Well, we began talking there in the foyer. Finally, he said, “I don’t think Susan is going to show up. I’ll just go ahead and eat.” Now, the hostess that night was Donna and she was trying to be a bit of a matchmaker as well. She even suggested we just have dinner together. I also remember her mentioning something about naming our firstborn after her! But, I decided to continue to wait for my friend.
I was on a first date here in 1978 with a woman who had never been to Irregardless before.
She liked the menu, the food, and the atmosphere. She was impressed with the generous portions, and could not quite finish her dinner that evening. When I asked if I could help her out with that, she readily offered me the remainder of her eggplant parmesan.
She was smitten and so was I, not to mention being very full. We were married shortly thereafter, and had one of our wedding parties at Irregardless for our familes and friends. We have been coming to Irregardless over the years and have enjoyed watching its evolution, even as we have evolved, bringing our children, friends and out-of-town guests back to sample the wonderful never-disappointing food.
Ken Schere & Ellen Bauman
I have been to the Irregardless Cafe dozens of times during my teenage years. I wanted to propose to my wife at the Rose Garden, and couldn't think of a better place to eat first.
In September 2001 we had a great brunch next to some boisterous kids. I proposed later in the morning in the Rose Garden, and now we take our children for walks there. We decided to have our wedding rehearsal dinner at Irregardless. All seventeen of us enjoyed a fine dinner, and sixteen of us had a great laugh. I found out that my debit card (the only plastic I brought) had a daily limit on it, and it wasn't enough to cover the check!
We have only the fondest memories about the Irregardless because it is where my romance blossomed with my now husband of almost 22 years, Greg, under the direction and support of Mrs. Gordon (the owner's late dear mother). It all began with some burnt fish sticks.
My new friend Greg was talking to me on the phone while he was trying to cook himself dinner. Suddenly, in the middle of our conversation, I heard a loud expletive. Greg apologized for the language, explaining that his frozen fish sticks had burned while we were talking on the phone. He said that he really wanted to continue the conversation and asked if I knew of a good place to eat in Raleigh where we could talk and have dinner. I suggested my favorite one, the Irregardless, and thus began our courtship.
Greg's calls became a regular thing around dinner time and he continued to ruin cooking a continuing array of frozen and other convenience food during our engrossing conversations. After the usual expletive (indicating that the food item was no longer fit for consumption), his apology for the language, and inevitable invitation, "How about the Irregardless," we would have an evening of wonderful food, often great live music, and the engrossing conversation.
Eventually, Greg quit trying to cook anything and we just made a date to eat dinner at the Irregardless--eliminating the expense and waste of the fish sticks, etc. Mrs. Gordon, who served as the cashier, took an interest in our blossoming romance and told me that she thought that Greg was "the one" for me. She always had some tidbit of advice for me or some great little story. Once she said that she had told her daughter that she should "learn to cook and marry a doctor." She thought that Arthur (the founder of the Irregardless) must have been "eavesdropping" because he opened the Irregardless and married a doctor. Eventually, we got engaged right there in the Irregardless. We will always have fond memories of the food, music, advice, and romance that meant so much to us.
Greg and Patti Goslen
One day at work in November 1884 a really nice guy asked me "what was I doing after work?" I told him that I had an evening class at NCSU that was over around 8:30. He invited me for "coffee" at Irregardless; later I found he didn't even drink coffee. It was just the first thing he thought of to say. We met there and talked for hours; it was our first "date". In September of the next year (1985), we were married in the little church at St. Mary's then walked over to Irregardless with the small wedding party for a "reception".
I was already a fan of the restaurant and remember when Mrs. Gordon was at the cash register. I remember when you sold grains from bins at the front of the store and were totally vegetarian. I have a copy of the original cookbook what's in tatters and full of stains from cooking my still-favorite recipes. I've bought artwork right off the walls which was painted by one of your former bartenders. I've introduced dozens of people to your wonderful food. Your place holds many good memories for me.
While attending design school at NC State 1980-1983 your restaurant was my salvation! As a relocated Bostonian I greatly appreciated the wonderful food you offered and especially your style of southern cooking! Living close by on Ashe Avenue made it easy to stop by. And my first date at brunch after a Sunday morning bike ride with my future husband is something I still recall - waffles and all! Just saw your ad on the NC Public Radio site (my nephew, Jeff Stern was featured on March 30th) and I was inspired to write. Thanks and hope to return some day!
Cathy Ries Neal
Irregardless is a Tradition to Us
My husband and I have been coming to the Irregardless Café since 2001; have introduced many of our friends and family to the restaurant and 'food' and, on almost every special occasion, we make another visit back just to have your famous Morgan Street Chicken. We fell in love with it the first time we had it, have tried other dishes on the menu which are awesome, but always come back to the Morgan Street Chicken. We are trying to get that recipe for ourselves since we live 2.0 hours away in Virginia. We make visits on our birthday and anniversary celebrations whenever we can! We have recommended the Irregardless Café to many many people looking for great food that offers a special ambiance and professional and friendly service. This is a tradition for us and we love it!
Cheryl & David Russell
Arthur, I have been coming to Irregardless for YEARS - probably since the 70's. I brought my children up eating pnut butter and honey sandwiches. They laugh now because they LOVE to come to Irregardless and they tell me how unfair it was that their parents ate the delicious food and they only got the pnut butter and honey.
Mostly that was because I didn't think they would like the chef's salad I almost always ordered. I still come to Irregardless, now with my adult children and my grandchildren. One of my oldest son's favorite lunch is the foccacia chicken sandwich.
I still love the salads - they are all wonderful! My grandson, who is now 3, LOVES the fish hanging from the ceiling. When we recently came, before we even got into the restaurant, he asked if this is the place with the fishes.
Irregardless is always one of my family's favorite choices when going to lunch or dinner. I brought them to Sunday brunch not too long ago, and that was amazing! I can't come for brunch when I'm dieting. It is one of the best restaurants ever in Raleigh!
One of my favorite drinks, that you don't have any longer, was the homemade Sangria. I used to have the recipe, but over the years it has gotten misplaced. Your bartender made it with Peach Brandy. YUM!
Also, Arthur, you and your wife live around the corner from me and I see you walking from time to time! I'll have to stop you one day and say hello! You have made Irregardless a legend here in Raleigh. Thank you!!
Sylvia G. Williams
Irregardless of the other restaurants, I have been celebrating my birthday and anniversary with Irregardless for over 20 years. Growing up an hour west of here I became aware of Irregardless back in the late 70’s, when I visited friends in Raleigh, I always requested we stop at Irregardless for dinner. I fell in love with the food, the décor and have been in love ever since. We moved to Florida and spent 10 years there but when we returned back to NC and moved to Raleigh in 1988, Irregardless once again became the only place I celebrate special times. Last year was the first year we brought our oldest son who turned 21 to the restaurant. Our two sons had never been to the Irregardless before, we really didn’t think they would appreciate the menu until they got older. My sons now are hooked on the Irregardless, they LOVE the freshness and the fact that it is not a chain and the constant variety of the menu.
I will continue to make the Irregardless my restaurant of choice and now I have passed on the tradition to our sons. I have the first cookbook that Arthur wrote and signed for me on my birthday celebration one year and can’t wait to add his second cookbook to my collection. Hope he signs this one as well. Thank you all for your commitment to excellence and not letting a little “heat” back in’94 keep you out of your kitchen!!
Can't think of a single lunch, brunch or dinner that was not simply delicious. From my first "bean burger" back when? Over thirty years ago at least. Always served with beautiful fresh green lettuce, a fresh red tomato slice and a scrumptious red onion. Fit to die for! They were so good I would order one every time I came in and even get a take out for lunch when I worked close.
I ventured out to other things eventually and haven't had one in awhile….I can taste it now I've got to have another one soon. Then there was my first "couscous". My bridge club came in for a birthday celebration one evening many years ago and none of us had experienced couscous….you so graciously served us a complementary order and we were hooked. To this day I always think of the couscous you served us.
Oh so many wonderful experiences…My family always makes sure we dine there on my birthday (April 19). Many times my husband and I will start out for dinner with no plans where and he just knows to come to Irregardless whether it is just sharing a salad with Tahini Dressing or a full dinner. I think he likes to see my expression when I know he's getting close to Irregardless!
He, of course, was so happy when you added meat (not to say that he always has your delicious steak, as he did last Saturday evening 12/6) because he likes all your seafood dishes as well. Speaking of seafood, last Saturday I had your Paella. Actually first time I had tried that..it was a special so I ordered it and just as our great waiter said….delish!. Seasoned perfectly, generous portion and beautifully served on the platter.
Thank you. I hope you understand that when I say my favorite place to dine……Irregardless and is always my recommendation to those who want a casual fine dining experience.
Oh, by the way. The jazz guys were great Sat evening. (I keep your old cookbook on display in my kitchen for all quick references. It is quite frayed but I love it.)
I grew up in Raleigh and never strayed very far from home, so I've had the good fortune of dining at Irregardless for as long as I can remember. When I was a little girl, Irregardless was always my first choice when my parents let me choose where to go for a special occasion (it still is!). I have the fondest memories of Athenian Chicken and Chicken Gordon Bleu and always hoped that it would show up on the blackboard menu on the nights we went there for dinner. I was so addicted to these two dishes, that Mom bought the first Irregardless recipe book and ventured into her first attempts at dealing with phyllo dough. No chicken cordon bleu that I've tried anywhere else holds a candle to the "Gordon" version. And don't even get me started on the unique vegan dishes I can always count on getting now that my tastes have changed a bit.
Although the Irregardless has changed over the years, the fantastic food and down-to-earth atmosphere still make it feel like home to me. Add to that the memories of hopes that it would rise from the ashes of its fire, the pez dispenser collection hidden throughout the restaurant, great live music and too many special evenings there to count -- if you haven't given Irregardless a try, you're missing out on one of Raleigh's prize gems.
I’ve been eating at Irregardless Café since I first moved to Raleigh in kindergarten. Irregardless was a “straight-A’s” treat for my brothers and me, a fresh summer lunch spot when I finally had my own wheels, a regular gig for my jazz bassist older brother. Today, it’s a spot where I do business with clients, laugh with my girlfriends, enjoy romantic dates and most importantly, eat the very best peach cobbler! Thanks for letting me grow up with you!
I started to think about things that have happened to me and my family at Irregardless and the list spans more then thirty five years. ( Feel free to cut these as needed, or only take parts that work for you. I hope this is what you were looking for, if not let me know. No problem.) Once as an elementary school teacher I brought a class of 8 year olds to make bread with Arthur. They had a great time and made a huge mess. I only did that once, that I can remember.
Our oldest daughter (who is now 28, married and has twins herself) found the hustle of the restaurant too much and so she would eat under the table. The amazing thing about it was that the wait staff served her under the table. She had a standing order of broccoli (just the way she liked it) and a special order peanut butter sandwich. There surely wasn't any other time she got served special orders under anybody's table.
For several years, we would have brunch every Sunday with all of our children. Attendance was required of the children and it gave us an opportunity to negotiate our complex family life over blueberry pancakes.
Time passed and the children went off to college and our ranks dwindled. Whenever we can collect a few they join us and listen to Arthur's Torah portions. He has been offering us all insights into life and living every time we see him.
We recently went to Italy and went to see the Sistine Chapel. Our youngest daughter went in looking for the section that had Arthur touching God's hand. She did note that in the real Chapel no one had a wine glass in their hands. We celebrated political victories and defeats at Irregardless. In a room full of family and friends we ate spanakopita and drank wine.
The last meal I ever had with my best friend was at Irregardless, a few months later he died of cancer. We had been eatting there together for twenty five years, it was a fitting place to see each other again.
Hi Arthur, Irregardless is by far my favorite restaurant. The reason for that is its dependability of excellent food with great choices. I've had the pleasure to know the original and new Irregardless. As a recent college graduate and new to Raleigh, I was introduced in 1990 to hummus and lemon tahini dressing (best at Irregarless) as well as many vegetarian dishes. The fish is always superb and is my choice when I go to Irregardless.
In my "birthday club" ( a group of 6 of us that have been celebrating our birthdays together for 16 years), I would always choose Irregardless for brunch or before the theatre and my birthday. We especially have enjoyed the French silk pie and I always love the fruit desserts. I missed out on getting the first cookbook so I will stay more alert for the second one! Thank you for such a wonderful, cheerful, welcoming place to eat!
Back in our college days(wow, mid '80's) Irregardless was our favorite restaurant. We will be visiting Raleigh, and you, on August 17th when we enroll our oldest child into NCSU. He is very apprehensive about attending a "southern" school and it would be very much appreciated if could give him a warm welcome. His name is Austin-Thanks so much!
Last year, I treated myself to what, for me, was a wonderful birthday. I spent the afternoon at the movies, shopped for fresh veggies at Farmers' Market, and then pick up a few books at Readers' Corner before heading to Irregardless Cafe for dinner.
To begin with, the service was excellent. My server was helpful and attentive with some interesting suggestions. I ordered the limeade drink she suggested, and was glad I did. It was cool and refreshing...just the thing for a hot summer evening. And the Greek Paste Saute was perfect! Light but very fresh and flavorful...a real treat for someone who loves mushrooms and olives! I only regret that I was too full to order dessert. I have eaten at Irregardless several times in the past, but that birthday dinner was one of the best I can remember. It remains one of my all-time favorite places to eat in Raleigh.
Hi - I had my first brunch experience at the Irregardless Cafe and I must say - it was wonderful! We got there at 12:30, was able to be seated fairly quickly. I was delighted when the plate of lemon poppysead sweetbread arrived along with a small glass of OJ. And then included with your meal was an additional drink! And then the decision process, it took me so long just to choose betweem 4 different items. I finally choose the ATHENIAN CHICKEN, and it was wonderful. The phylllo dough was the right texture and "crispyness". I also enjoyed the guitar music. Not only do I need to come 3 more times (to try the other meals)
I am wondering why I have not been there for dinner yet, so a dinner experience will be in my near future as well. But what i most enjoy was the whole atmosphere - I really like to avoid the "chain restaurants" and love to find places that really capture the feeling of the city.... and this place did all that and more!
When I was hired at NC State in 2004, my boss took the members of our new unit to lunch at the Irregardless Cafe to meet each other. I recall the excitement of creating a new team, meeting co-workers who would share in the development of our focus and strategies and successes. Between the relaxed atmosphere and the always great food (we come back often!), we found common ground and new relationships which continue to nurture and sustain us....exactly what Irregardless Cafe did for us that day and continues to do for all your guests. Thank you for being here and being all that you are....great food, friendly professional staff, warm environment. You're the best!
I remember going to the Irregardless in high school with members of my church youth-group. It seemed like the first really "grown-up" restaurant experience of my life. The Irregardless was so different than any restaurant I had ever visited -- probably because it was unique. The food was freshly made, even crafted, and different from anything I had experienced. Over the years my mother and I would go for brunch at the Irregardless, and later we went to the Museum Cafe on Friday nights for a special night out. When I was finishing my bachelors at NCSU I would make a point to save up for a special end-of-the-semester dinner for myself. Even though it was a big splurge for a poor student the staff made me feel like I deserved every morsel.
I moved away from Raleigh eleven years ago to do advanced schooling, and also to give myself a chance to grow on my own, away from family. I recently moved back -- to be closer to my family again -- and was relieved to see that the Irregardless is still there. This Sunday is Mothers Day and Mom and I have plans to "do brunch" at the Irregardless. Thanks for all the years of good food and good service!
'Loving' and the Irregardless
Anonymous, Mebane, NC
Way way back in 1977 or so, I moved to Raleigh and got a job at a little health food store called Harmony Natural Foods. Before long, one of my co-workers, Susan Dillard, introduced me to the Irregardless Cafe, where I discovered exotic foods like lemon tahini salad dressing, Baba Ghanouj and Russian Pie! and where I ate my first Mexican dinner at the advanced age of 24.
One day, Susan and I had a dish that I couldn't get enough of: a casserole that included egg noodles, cauliflower, currants (or raisins?) and Swiss cheese. I asked Susan (who knew him) to ask the owner, Arthur Gordon, for the recipe. Arthur came to our table and told me that he had found the recipe in a book called "The Underground Gourmet," which he said was full of fabulous recipes for ethnic foods.
Remember, this was 1977 - much of the menu at the Irregardless was years ahead of everything else you could find in Raleigh back then. Well. I searched for that book for years. I spent hours scanning rows of cookbooks in thrift stores, used book stores, flea markets, looking for it. At one point, I finally ordered an out-of-print copy, eagerly awaited its arrival, and found that the wonderful noodle casserole was not in it.
Arthur Gordon, you rascal, how could you have steered me so wrong? Years passed. Decades passed. And then one day in 2007, in a used book store in Atlanta, I was delighted to find a copy of "The Irregardless Cooks," a book I never knew existed. Here, I knew I would find my recipe. I could barely page through it fast enough: there it was, on page 51, Cauliflower Fettucine. But where were the raisins? could they have existed only in my memories?
Today, surfing the net for a Raleigh artist named Kyle Highsmith, I stumbled upon your website. There I found pictures, not just of Arthur Gordon from years when I used to come and eat Cauliflower Fettucine at the Irregardless, but even of Hermine Brown, who used to deliver her hot-out-of-the-oven cinnamon rolls to Harmony Natural Foods. (Incidentally, I've never run across any as good since.)
Congratulations to you all for all these years of inspired food, the taste of which has stayed in this customer's memories for so many years!
Gina Webb, Atlanta, Ga
As a fan of Irregardless since first moving to Raleigh in 1975, it has changed along with the times. What has not changed is great food and a warm, inviting atmosphere. Through the years as Irregardless became more "upscale", a group of us who frequented (and still do) bemoaned the lack of a "good napkin" which was needed to reflect the quality of the evening. We used to jokingly, although somewhat serious, harangue Arthur about this. One night one of the waitstaff who lived nearby (and said the staff had been pushing this too) went home and came back with cloth napkins for the 6 or 8 of us prior to serving our dessert.
What a great laugh we all enjoyed. Arthur laughed and sort of rolled his eyes at us - all in good fun. After that for the next few times, we would bring our own set of napkins and open them with a great flourish when we sat down. Shortly thereafter, Arthur threw up his hands and said "you win" - thus reinforcing that Irregardless pays attention to its customers!
We continue to enjoy many evenings there, particularly the Saturday night music and dancing. This past October I celebrated my 55th birthday at Irregardless with long time friends and reminisced about having celebrated my 25th birthday there 30 years ago - seems like just yesterday. Not the same meal (not even the same husband - but still the red hair) - a great time indeed. I hope we'll all be around another 30 years to enjoy more good food and good times - we can hope!!
I have been a fan of The Irregardless for more than 20 years, but never more so than the period beginning in early 1992. This was a very dark time in our lives and the bright spot in our day was coming to The Irregardless for supper after a l-o-n-g day at work. Often times the restaurant was very busy.........but Sandy or Donna would always find a spot for us.........usually at the little table just outside the kitchen door, where the staff sat when they were not busy.
We had many great meals at that little table.........but my favorite was Grouper Moutard.....and Jane's was, of course, Morgan Street Chicken. I remember that I would whine to Arthur to have the grouper more often......never considering the season. One time he put it on the menu and called it Bostrom's Grouper.
We remember the awful fire....and how badly we missed going to The Irregardless for those many months. Dozens of times we rode by and looked in the dark window, seeking some hint of progress in re-construction.
We loved the new restaurant when it opened........and we have continued to visit often. And, just last week I was whining to Arthur for Grouper Moutard.
Bob & Jane Bostrom, Raleigh
For my young niece's birthday one year, when she was visiting me from our home state of West Virginia, I planned a big city night for her. She'd been taking ballet lessons at home, so I thought a night at the Carolina Ballet, in perhaps the ballet's first year in Raleigh, was in order. And nothing could begin that evening better, than dinner at Irregardless. We dressed ourselves up and headed to dinner. My favorite part of the evening was the entirely appropriate strolling violinist. Dinner is always divine at Irregardless, but the strolling violinist made our special night seem even finer. My niece loved the evening, but was a bit worn by the end of the ballet and was falling asleep. I think she was all of nine years old at the time. Thank you Irregardless for helping making that night special.
Donna S. Elliott
Hi Arthur, In 2004 I had the opportunity to have lunch at ‘The Irregardless”. I was a graduate student at Vet School then and one of my colleagues had chosen the place for her birthday lunch. I immediately fell in love with the place, it had a personal feel to it and was unlike other restaurants that I had visited in the Raleigh area.
Later, I took my husband (who was also a grad student at Vet School then) for a dinner date and fell for it even more as there was a guy playing the piano. We moved to Rockville MD in 2005 but are now back for good, we live in Cary.
Old Friends from Long Ago and Far Away
I remember when I first moved to Raleigh back in 1975 that Irregardless Cafe caught my eye as I was driving down Morgan Street; at that time, it actually looked like a retail garden nursery. There were all kinds of ferns and other baskets hanging from the outside porch. To my surprise, it didn't take long to realize it was actually a restaurant. The first time I ate there I was hooked. I may be wrong about this, but I don't recall Irregardless having air-conditioning at first. But that didn't matter because the food was awesome! And, in those days, Irregardless really fit in perfectly with the 70s! It makes me laugh today; the women servers (or waitresses) wore little to no make-up, wore simple clothes and did not shave their legs!
Of course, the restaurant was much smaller back in those days. One memorable thing I will never forget is that the tiny ladies' bathroom had been painted all over, from the walls, to the ceiling and floor, and even the toilet! A friend and neighbor from my hometown of Lexington, NC, was the artist who painted it. Julie Rogers was a starving artist who also enjoyed Irregardless's food. As I recall, she cut a deal with Arthur that as long as she was painting the bathroom, she would get free food in return. I'm not sure how long it took her to paint the small bathroom. But surely it must have taken her much longer to paint than any other project just so she could enjoy the delicious eclectic ever-changing menus. What Irregardless got in return was a beautiful jungle scene!
There were mainstays on the menu in the early years, such as Beanburgers, the Garden Sandwich, or lemon tahini salad. Many of the items were more of a simple vegetarian food that introduced many to new and different ethnic dishes. I have always been a soup lover, and I noticed that potato soup showed up on the lunch menu often; it seemed as though it was never presented the same way twice. I surmised that it was made from some left-over dishes from the night before but it was always delicious.
After getting married in 1979 and living in Raleigh at that time, my husband and I enjoyed the ever-changing evening menus. My husband was disappointed when the Mexican Pastel Shanty was not on the menu. But many other items were always good: Poulet Champignon, Chicken Gor Don Bleu, any of the eggplant dishes, or crepe dishes, etc.
I was thrilled that on my 30th birthday, my husband gave me your newly published cookbook way back in 1982. We have enjoyed it through the years. Since we have long since moved away from Raleigh, we can enjoy Irregardless as it once was and how we still remember it. What a wonderful legacy The Irregardless has provided Raleigh. I have been waiting for a long time since your first cookbook was published, and I will be among the first to purchase your next one! Best wishes for another generation of serving great food!!
Arthur, I was sitting at the table next to you, on my own, in Irregardless this evening. Sorry, I didn't realise until I looked at your website after returning to my hotel that you are the owner or I would have complemented you more on a great restaurant.
As I briefly mentioned, I stayed in Raleigh in late 1989 for 6 months. My wife Liz, our 1 year old daughter and I were regulars to your restaurant at that time. In fact, whenever we start talking about Raleigh and our time in the US, I can assume you, your restaurant always gets a mention. We regard it as one of the best restaurants we have ever frequented.
We live just outside Edinburgh in the UK, so unfortunately, visiting your restaurant is not straightforward any more. I am over here on business so it was great to have the opportunity to re-live so great memories by stopping by this evening. It is the first time I have been back in 17 years, and I hope it will not be 17 years before I return again.
We always loved your wide use of many flavours and produce so it was great to see that you are still delivering a great product. When I was telling Liz tonight that I was going to visit Irregardless, we were reliving some of the good times & meals we had way back when.
I am not sure when I will be back again, hopefully sooner that 17 years, but whenever it is, I hope that Irregardless is still going and producing great food.
Thanks again, Tommy Cook, Edinburgh, Scotland
My name is Brian and I am an Army Officer that has been stationed at Fort Bragg several times and during one of my assignments I acquired a southern gal and made her my wife. What does this have to do with your fine establishment, well dinner with you was not our first date but it may have been the deal closer as we both love food and I no matter how long we have been married she is still willing to cut me some slack because I introduced her to the Irregardless café.
We have many other happy memories of dinner with you to include: - a great evening with my father, who passed away two weeks ago, in which we had dinner with you and then went to the theater for Handel’s Messiah. - The night my wife snuck into the kitchen to try and get the recipe for Sweet Potato Ravioli Our Army life moved us from North Carolina but we have always spread the word of your restaurant to folks headed for Fort Bragg and now that we are headed back we intend to come see you prior to my deployment to Iraq.
My mom moved us to Raleigh from north-central Pennsylvania in the early 1980's, I was born in 1979. One of my earliest dining experiences as a child began at the Irregardless Cafe in Raleigh in the early 80's! I had lusted all day long after a "Char-Grill" hamburger & mom wanted me to try one of your bean burgers with french fries. It sounded gross to me but I thought I'd give it a try. Surprisingly, it wasn't too bad for my all of 6-year-old palate.
Pretty soon, we were dining with you all the time. I grew up in Raleigh, but since re-located all over the East Coast. I've eaten in the best places money can afford from New York City to Philadelphia and Miami, but little old Raleigh, NC has produced one of the finest restaurants that can compete with any big city restaurant: and that's Irregardless. I'll never forget it.
I haven't eaten there in years, but I was hooked on your Red Zinger iced tea and Lemon Tahini salads, growing up, and going to high school in close-by Garner, N.C. I wanted to write to you to THANK YOU for giving me one of my first dining experiences in my young life and I give you so much credit for shaping my palate...if it were not for you..I probably wouldn't have ever invested so much time and love in eating diverse, exotic, and healthy foods as an adult.
There is really not too much I don't turn my nose up at because of you...although I consider myself a healthy eater. You also taught me that healthy doesn't mean flavorless foods. You're an institution and in my heart you'll always be number 1!
Vanessa I. Gabbiano (formerly Vanessa Mowery)
Hi there!! I just had to write you. I live in Portland, Oregon now, but I grew up in Raleigh. Back in the day, my art teacher (Suzanne White) would rotate her art student’s artwork through your restaurant. I was cleaning out some of my closets over last weekend, and came across some old matted pieces my parents saved for me that were in your “gallery” way back in 1979-81.
I happened to Google you, and you’re still there on Morgan Street after all these years. Your menu and atmosphere was special and unique for Raleigh back then, and I’m sure it still is. Here in Portland we have many organic/vegetarian restaurants, but yours will always be “my first”. Thank you so much for “being there”. You’ll never know how proud I was as a pre-teen girl to see my art in public. Raleigh is truly blessed that you’re still there to serve.
Beth Welty Portland, Oregon
I grew up in Raleigh, but since re-located all over the East Coast. I've eaten in the best places money can afford from New York City to Philadelphia and Miami, but little old Raleigh, NC has produced one of the finest restaurants that can compete with any big city restaurant, and that's Irregardless. I'll never forget it.
Vanessa, Washington, DC
I was so happy to see that you have a website and just wondered if you are selling your wonderful lemon tahini salad dressing? We had moved to Raleigh in May of 1976 and discovered your fantastic restaurant shortly after arriving there.
The most vivid memory for us was the best vegetable plate served on brown earthenware and sitting in a booth that looked out a window and the waitress was (and excuse the term, but it was 1976)dressed so hippy style with dangling earrings, flowing skirt and it was the most mother earth like, peaceful setting inside. I remember the salads, fruit with the cottage cheese was great. We loved Dr. Bronners peppermint soap that was sold by the cash register where Arthur's mother worked. At the cash there was also a picture of Arthur's wife (I am pretty sure) with their baby with their mouths wide open as if they were singing.
What happy times those were for me and my husband. Forgive me for rambling, but I miss those early days coming there and one last thing, the chocolate silk pie, I wish I had a piece right now. This is what happens when you get older and wish for simpler times. We left there in 1991 and I think Irregardless is my most favorite restaurant ever. Well, thanks for the memories and I at least can look at the great food we are missing.
Missy Aslund, Bluffton, SC
A Veggies Tale: I moved from Houston to Raleigh in 1981. Irregardless soon became my favorite restaurant as an escape from pig pickin's and chicken fried unidentified. I eagerly bought my first cook book and deligently tried the recipes. Each time I had a dish at the restaurant, I'd go home and make notes about it in my cook book. As a college student, I was a vegetarian by economy.
After graduation, I moved to Japan, where I was a vegetarian by geography. Years later I met my husband in the Caribbean and found the way to his heart thanks to my little cookbook and we've remained vegetarians by matrimony. It's about time we retired my worn out cookbook... We're looking forward to "adding some new spice" to our next 20 years! Thank you Arthur for all the good times we've shared enjoying your dishes with people all around the world.
Well, I remember when Irregardless first opened in 1975, and how exciting it was to find a progressive restaurant so near our University haunts. Part of the fun initially was the humor in the name itself, and of course the delicious food you could never find anywhere else - not in the Raleigh we knew back then.
How would I ever have guessed that one day I would be eating tabouleh, hummous, and pita bread in Cairo, Egypt, or in the United Arab Emirates! But I don't think I've ever enjoyed it more than I did right there on Morgan Street, in the Irregardless Cafe.
Here's to many more years of success for all of you! (I came across your web site while looking up your address to send to my son, who is now studying at NCSU - time for a second generation to enjoy your great food and atmosphere.)
Roseanne Samir, Cairo Egypt
I was so happy to see that you have a website and just wondered if you are selling your wonderful lemon tahini salad dressing? We had moved to Raleigh in May of 1976 and discovered your fantastic restaurant shortly after arriving there. The most vivid memory for us was the best vegetable plate served on brown earthenware and sitting in a booth that looked out a window and the waitress was (and excuse the term,but it was 1976) dressed so hippy style with dangling earrings,flowing skirt and it was the most mother earth like, peaceful setting inside. I remember the salads, fruit with the cottage cheese an regular ones with the lemon Dr. Bronners peppermint soap that was sold by the cash register where Arthur's mother ran the cash register and there was a picture of Arthur's wife (I am pretty sure) with their baby with their mouths wide open as if they were singing. What happy times those were for me and my husband . Forgive me for rambling, but I miss those early days coming there and one last thing,the chocolate silk pie, I wish I had a piece right now. This is what happens when you get older and wish for simpler times. We left there in 1991 and I think Irregardless is my most favorite rest. ever. Well, thanks for the memories and I at least can look at the great food we are missing.
Dunno who reads these so this may fall on blind eyes... I see that Authur is still running the show & as an Irregardless alumni (1974-1976) wanted to say howdy. Michael Coxe here. I'll be in RTP in a few weeks and hope to drop by for dinner. Moved away from Raleigh late '78 and only been back a few times. I've lived in the SF Bay Area since then, married for 26 years, with 2 grown girls and 2 grandchildren. Authur, Rich Mancini & myself inaugurated a breakfast shift in the day, me being out front. I was also a dishwasher (still proud to say), stocked the snacks in the queue area, dealt with cold strorage and ran the stove when everyone else wanted a night off. A fine experience with fond memories.
Michael Coxe, San Jose, California
In 1974 my wife and I moved from CA to Raleigh. We had grown up with fresh produce as well many meatless meals... Also since California has so many good Mexican restaurants we were always looking for a good Restaurant in Raleigh, which did not exist in 1975.
I remember hearing about a new cafe that was opening by the name of Irregardless; even though the word at the time did not exist to our knowledge. After our first meal, we loved the food as well the folks that worked there. On a Wednesday night we went to have Mexican Food but were very disappointed. The refried beans were made from Kidney beans, not Pinto as is the case in most good Mexican Restaurants (some use black beans but never Kidney beans).. so we made a suggestion and Chef Arthur who right then offered Naomi a job to be the lead cook for Wednesday's Mexican Food night..
The rest is history and until we moved away in 1977, we spent a lot of time enjoying the food and the people that would come. Irregardless was a family place where even Arthur's mom would be the cashier. Even important people in Raleigh would come for meals, for example Governor Hunt's wife would eat there weekly, but as was the case people came to eat good food, so dignitaries would come and go as regulars but nothing was made of it... If Arthur ever decides to hang up his cooking knives and retire, I only hope someone like Arthur will have a love of food and people to take over.
We all have wonderful stories about Irregardless, for me it was when our daughter Saanii would sit on top of the table as we ate.. no one cared for we were at home... I remember the great veggie crepes, artic cream and always a new daily special..
Raleigh has been lucky to have such a place as Irregarless over the last 30 + years in fact we have moved on and never found a home like this one so people of Raleigh, NC know that you have a real jewel where people care about the food you eat as well have a place you can home away from home. (Saying this does not take away my love for K&W).
Michael and Naomi Hernandez-Robison, Santa Fe, New Mexico
A Friendly Home for New Comers
When I first came to Raleigh in 2001, I did not know a soul. I was searching for a nice place to have brunch and came across your business name in the phone book. Being a fan of Prairie Home Companion, I decided your café was the place for me. I went down the following Sunday and enjoyed a delicious brunch.
Although I was alone, I felt warm and welcome in the crowd, and the jazz music played by a wonderful guitarist just added to the ambiance. At once I felt a sense of belonging and knew I had found a place that I would visit over and over.
Now I have many friends who live near the café and we often dine together there. Each time I am struck by the warm and friendly ambience. Thanks for helping me get settled in Raleigh. Long live Irregardless Café!
I moved, alone, from Boston to Chapel Hill in 1985. I got a job in Raleigh. To say I was in culture shock is an understatement! What I missed most was good food. I had worked my way through college by cooking - in restaurants in Cambridge, Boston and for catering companies in both. I was used to ethnic, healthy and interesting foods of all kinds.
Suddenly it seemed my choices were limited to fried and more fried. Someone told me about Irregardless and it became my place of comfort every day for lunch. I didn't understand southern culture, southern drawls, southern (slow) pacing, all of which I have come to love and appreciate. But without my Irregardless lunches I would have felt even more out of place and alone.
I made the calls immediately after turning in my resignation letter announcing my departure from a toxic job situation: "We're going to Irregardless for lunch." Everyone was ecstatic; it was as if I'd just announced an engagement or a lucrative appointment to a Cabinet position!
Seven of us showed up at the doorstep of the Irregardless Cafe and made a beeline straight for the desserts, skipping over any item that smacked of what's-good-for-you-ness. We ordered every single dessert available that day and spent a glorious hour nibbling, tasting, and savoring the sweetness of making a good move. We ate there again when I received a new job offer -- but that time, we did eat more nutritiously. I swear. Cheers,
Memories of Cooking Classes and Catered Parties
We’ve been going to the Irregardless Café since I was a little boy. I’m 23 now and remember one of the best birthday presents I ever had was thanks to Arthur and the café staff. I was awaken by my mom on the morning of my eighteenth birthday because of a telephone call. Arthur was on the other end. I remember him asking me if I’d like to go shopping with him before the restaurant opened. He also said that he heard about my wish to work in a kitchen as a birthday present and asked if I’d like to join him in the restaurant that day. “Of course I would!”
Arthur picked me up in a minivan and together we drove to the Raleigh Farmers Market. Early on, Arthur taught me an important value to him and to the Irregardless Café was the freshest food possible. So we put boxes of vegetables and fruit into the back of his minivan and drove it over to the restaurant.
Shortly thereafter I learned a second quick lesson, working in a restaurant would be no easy task. We had already been out early to buy the food, load the food, courier the food and it was finally time to learn how to cook. That day I learned a couple of great recipes, a thin crust pizza, some delicious aioli and one of my favorite dishes today, Athenian Chicken. Arthur’s soux chef was more than helpful. Yes, I did have to prep more broccoli and veggies than I had counted on but I look back and recount that Arthur didn’t sugarcoat the experience. He gave me exactly what I wanted, a chance to walk in the shoes of a real cook.
Since that day, my fiancé and I have continued to visit the Irregardless Cafe, either for dinner or my favorite, Sunday brunch. We continue to dine on warm Athenian Chicken, savory Asparagus and Brie omelets, or the sweet Cheese Blintzes. Thank you Arthur, for your commitment to good food and for an experience that inspired a young cook.
Let me set the stage, or should I say the kitchen. . . Sixteen very accomplished women (you may ask in what?) ---we came with an appetite, who love wine, great food and of course getting together in the kitchen with each other!
We did Arthur’s cooking class on May 14th, it was Deliciously FUN and we even learned a thing or two. How Arthur managed sixteen women in the kitchen, not sure, but he did. Anya (his lovely wife) may have had a thing or two to do with that!
We had a wine tasting, appetizers, and Entrée’----finishing off with desserts (a few of them.) We are still exchanging emails on the sauce you made for the Salmon, and the short ribs, not to mention the ideas you gave us for stuffing the phylo dough.
The evening was so fabulous, and to top that it benefited “Safe Child.” If you ever have the opportunity to do this cooking class, take it. Your totally devoted suix chefs (yes we promoted ourselves).
Wendy Dawson & Friends
My husband and I got married on May 10, 2002 and brought our families to the Irregardless for an after wedding celebration before we headed off to the beach. It was such an enjoyable and special time for everyone. We all still talk about the great service and food as well as the cake that we had made there. The Irregardless has such a magical and easy going feel to it. It really is my favorite restaurant. I hope it continues to be around for years to come!
We had our annual office Christmas party catered in-house at the Irregardless Café. Not only were the servers extremely nice, attentive, patient as we made our selections and very knowledgeable regarding the menu items, but the management allowed us to have a small band there as entertainment during our party. It was small and intimate and so much fun! Probably one of the best steaks I’d ever had and the tahini was out of this world! Thank you so much for making that party that’s still memorable even 3 years later.
The first time I ate at Irregardless was about 14 years ago. I was a student at Guilford College and a dear friend of mine who was from Raleigh lost his mother to a long battle with cancer. We came to Raleigh for a beautiful memorial ceremony out on a farm. When it was all over, we thought our friend would be too emotionally exhausted to do much but instead, he wanted to go out for a great meal at his mom’s favorite place, Irregardless. We toasted his mom’s life and ate and talked and listened to a great jazz trio. It was a lovely evening on a very sad occasion.
A few years later, I moved to Raleigh and eventually lived about 2 blocks away from Irregardless. It became the place my roommate and I would go for drinks, or birthday dinners, or where we’d take our families for Sunday brunch and Bloody Mary’s when they came to town. As someone who doesn’t eat meat, I knew there would always been something sumptuous and creative to choose from. I loved that the menu changes so I don’t always feel pulled to one or two favorite dishes.
In time, Irregardless became the place my boyfriend and I would go for occasions like dating anniversaries and Valentine’s Day. The time came when that boyfriend became my fiancé and we were planning our wedding. It was very important to us to have food that represented our lifestyle: simple, delicious, creative, and full of flavor. Our families support our choice not to eat meat but weren’t so sure they wanted to host a wedding dinner without meat choices. Irregardless seemed like the perfect choice.
Our time meeting with Anya was some of the best part of planning our wedding. Anya understood our backgrounds and culture and put our families at ease. The wedding was at a lodge and she met me to look at the space and had no qualms about what she could pull off there. She was patient when my father-in-law insisted on pigs in a blanket as part of the passed appetizers (our one meat compromise). She smiled & increased the quantity of alcohol when we insisted our friends would really be drinking at this wedding! Her confidence soothed my nervousness as a bride.
The night went off without a hitch and our friends and family still talk about how great the food was at our wedding. And Anya & Arthur danced to the last song of the night. It is funny how you never think about the role a favorite restaurant plays in your life…but it is stead fast, an event holder, an indicator of celebration and milestones. It is a character in our story whom rarely gets named. It is a place we depend on and sometimes take for granted. It has, like all of us, a history waiting to be told.
The Good Food Saved the Day
We're fairly recent customers to Irregardless, I have to admit for years I thought it was a vegetarian restaurant and that we wouldn't find anything to our liking. What wasted years those were. We finally had a meal there and now every opportunity we have to introduce a newcomer to the place we make a reservation. We're working our way through those salads, and we especially love that you've put those small plates on the menu, they're just perfect! Now we don't feel so guilty having a dessert.
You taught me how to eat salads! Ok, so I exaggerate … but only a little bit! Ever since the late 70’s when I first began enjoying your cooking, I actually tended to eat your amazing salads more than your tasty cooked items. The way I came to eat Irregardless salads was that I had begun dating my future wife, Ardath Goldstein, who was renovating a neat Tudor-style row house over on Woodburn Road, and she had a roommate who ate incredible salads that were unlike anything I had ever seen.
She explained that she got the idea from you! I think your menus then called the salad something other than “Chef’s”. “Kitchen sink” would have been a better descriptor as there were terrific ingredients that I would never have dreamed of putting in them, like sunflower seeds, cottage cheese, raisins, multiple types of lettuce and I’m sure I have forgotten other ingredients.
The roommate, Peggy Payne, borrowed your ideas and probably extended on them. I began copying her and you, and to this day, I love having “Irregardless Salads” as my entire meal. For a guy who grew up never meeting a lettuce that wasn’t called “iceberg” and never having seen anything more than cukes, carrots and tomatoes on a salad, you opened a new world to me!
My daughter, Janna, upon hearing about the above salad delight, said that I really should be writing about super saturated solutions! You wonder why? Only at Irregardless, in Raleigh’s nice restaurants at least, can one enjoy the kind of sweet tea that is never available at restaurants in Philly where she is in school. Your sugar infusion syrup really is nice for those who desire a sweeter tea than others. She has suffered the deprivations of the cold North, but if I bring her to Irregardless, she can make that wonderful Southern treat of super saturated sweet tea and also have a nice meal.
'Irregardless' is not a word
Periodically, folks write us from around the country to explain that "Irregardless" is not a word.
Are you aware of the understanding of the word "irregardless"? Usage Note: Irregardless is a word that many mistakenly believe to be correct usage in formal style, when in fact it is used chiefly in nonstandard speech or casual writing. Coined in the United States in the early 20th century, it has met with a blizzard of condemnation for being an improper yoking of irrespective and regardless and for the logical absurdity of combining the negative ir- prefix and -less suffix in a single term. Although one might reasonably argue that it is no different from words with redundant affixes like debone and unravel, it has been considered a blunder for decades and will probably continue to be so.
Usage Note: Irregardless is a word that many mistakenly believe to be correct usage in formal style, when in fact it is used chiefly in nonstandard speech or casual writing. Coined in the United States in the early 20th century, it has met with a blizzard of condemnation for being an improper yoking of irrespective and regardless and for the logical absurdity of combining the negative ir- prefix and -less suffix in a single term. Although one might reasonably argue that it is no different from words with redundant affixes like debone and unravel, it has been considered a blunder for decades and will probably continue to be so.
Katrine Banaghan, Greensboro, NC