Busy Bee Cafe

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Busy Bee CafeBusy Bee Cafe
69 Ratings
Busy Bee CafeBusy Bee Cafe

Type: Bar, Eatery, Beer-to-go

225 S Wilmington St
Raleigh, North Carolina, 27601-1433
United States

(919) 424-7817

// CLOSED //

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Added by rtratzlaff on 04-18-2009

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Ratings: 69 |  Reviews: 29
Photo of dbrauneis
3.65/5  rDev -16.9%
vibe: 3 | quality: 4 | service: 3 | selection: 4 | food: 4

The vibe in the Busy Bee is a little too hipster for me, the music is overly loud and indie or ironic and you certainly feel like people are giving you the you are not cool enough to be in here looks.

The beer selection is good, while not extensive. The beers that are available tend to be very good beers and are definitely served properly. I have not been disappointed in any of the beers that I have ordered and received at the Busy Bee. I found the prices on the beers to be a little higher than some similar establishments in the same general area of downtown Raleigh.

The service at the Busy Bee has been very hit and miss for me. I have had servers that had extremely good knowledge about the beers but were inattentive or very slow, I have had servers that were great but knew nothing about the beer, and I have had servers that were attentive and knowledgeable.

The food has been solid each of the times I have been though not outstanding - some items are definitely better than others. The menu seems to change around about every 6 months so it is nice to try the different items as they appear.

 1,109 characters

Photo of PhillyStyle
3.65/5  rDev -16.9%
vibe: 3.5 | quality: 4 | service: 3.5 | selection: 3.5 | food: 3.5

Visited on 8/17/09:

Unassuming place from the outside, nice space, exposed brick and exposed duct work, 15 or so places at a nice wood bar with maybe 30 tables on the main level plus a few upstairs.

The atmosphere was good, the place had a nice buzz to it, but only about half full that night and seemed to be a little too bright. Also, they had a few too many servers so it made it feel a little uninviting as they were just standing around. But as noted in the previous review, it did have a nice coffee aroma to the place and did not have the typical funk that most beer joints have.

The food was a step up from the usual pub grub, but just barely. I had the burger, it was under done, but the Mac and cheese was really good and they tried to get a bit too fancy with the salad that I ordered.

The wait staff was helpful, knowledgeable and fast. They did provide a beer menu and told me what they did and didn't have that was on the menu. I think that there may have only been 2 changes, so it was pretty well up to date. The prices for both the beer and the food were reasonable.

They had 8 beers on tap with a few rotating. Nothing all that special, but a good selection. Also a good selection of 20 bottle and overall the selection seemed to be a little more Belgian in flavor, which is not a bad thing, but again, most if not all I had seen or tried before.

Overall a good stop but I would probably go to Woody's or The Pit before coming here.

 1,461 characters

Photo of Zimm
3.75/5  rDev -14.6%

Photo of OldhouseRecs
3.75/5  rDev -14.6%

Photo of clayrock81
3.82/5  rDev -13%
vibe: 3.75 | quality: 3.75 | service: 4 | selection: 3.75

This is a good place but didn't have too much time so can't really say I got a complete layout of the place. Went around 6 on a Friday (for about an hour) during spring break so while place wasn't empty at all there were seats at the bar. Guess I would agree with "hipster" vibe as nothing but college kids with nothing to do were around (doesn't bother me). Bartender was quick and polite, no complaints about service, and while the bottle selection isn't the greatest or that cheap, the tap selection was pretty good as it mixes some local with hard to find domestic gems. Also, the draft beer prices, unlike bottle prices, were pretty even with rest of neighborhood. Seems like a good place to hang out if it doesn't get too crowded and enjoy a couple of drafts.

 765 characters

Photo of ncstateplaya
3.85/5  rDev -12.3%
vibe: 4 | quality: 4.25 | service: 3 | selection: 4 | food: 4.25

Photo of socon67
3.9/5  rDev -11.2%
vibe: 3.5 | quality: 4 | service: 4 | selection: 4 | food: 3.5

Went here while visiting the area for work. Recommended thanks to the great folks on BA.

A - A mix of hipsters and the happy hour folks. Was here on a Tuesday evening. Since they have a seating area for foood, there can be some children. Overall not bad, but not ideal.

Q - Everything served in proper glasses. Every pour was correct. Nothing to be upset about.

Ser - Bartender was helpful, polite, and talked briefly about the selections. They knew their stuff, and I tipped well because of that.

Selection - Great mix of locals and rares. I've seen better lists, and certianly more taps. But seeing things like Struise Pannepot was sweet, and their sours list was actually amazing.

Food - Not many choices, but what I ordered ( a salad) was very good.

V - I'm from NY, so I found it reasonable. I had Duck Rabbit milk stout, Mother Earth Dark Cloud, and Foothills red plus a salad for under $30. I can live with that.

I may swing by tomorrow if I can. A great find courtesy of BA.

 989 characters

Photo of blackie
3.94/5  rDev -10.3%
vibe: 3.5 | quality: 4 | service: 4 | selection: 4

Spent all of a minute downstairs at Busy Bee before moving upstairs to the associated Hive, which as it turns out was not ideal - but this being my first visit I just followed the group. The Busy Bee seemed like a pretty chill spot, relatively quiet bar area with people having dinner at the tables. Without the quality beer selection, the Hive would be just another club scene - loud beat-heavy music, dance floor, and packed with people. Nearly lost my chalice twice. Like talking others in your group? Don't go upstairs. The back deck may hold some promise as an escape. Seems to be some kind of identity crisis going on here.

Nice draft selection here - Mischief from the Bruery was my choice, but there was a good 10 enticing options listed on the chalkboard. Pretty damn expensive at $8 for a small chalice.

Service was reasonably quick given the crowded bar, but there was really no opportunity for anything other than the money-for-beer exchange.

I'd go back to hang out or have dinner downstairs, but there'd have to be the promise of something fantastic or be an off night to make me climb that staircase again.

 1,124 characters

Photo of GJ40
4/5  rDev -8.9%
vibe: 4 | quality: 4 | service: 4.5 | selection: 3.5

I stopped into the Busy Bee for the first time. This place has a very interesting decor. The building itself is a classic with beautiful exposed brick walls and nice hardwood floors. They've then added comfortable and attractive tables and bars. I think it's got a nice feel. They also have an outdoor patio behind the second floor.

The tap list isn't large but it's got some good NC / eastern US beers and quite a few Belgians. They were a bit weak on IPAs though and the taps are split between floors so you're somewhat limited. They also offer some solid choices in the bottle.

Busy Bee is a nice addition to the growing number of craft beer options downtown.

 664 characters

Photo of jophish17
4/5  rDev -8.9%

Photo of Cynic-ale
4/5  rDev -8.9%
vibe: 4 | quality: 4 | service: 4 | selection: 4 | food: 4

Photo of Mantooth
4/5  rDev -8.9%
vibe: 4 | quality: 4 | service: 4 | selection: 4 | food: 4

No longer in biz - it's now Trophy Brewing - great joint, check 'em out!

72 characters

Photo of ewright
4.05/5  rDev -7.7%
vibe: 4.5 | quality: 4 | service: 4 | selection: 4 | food: 4

Was in Busy Bee about two weeks back on a Wednesday night. There were very few patrons in the place ... not overly surprising for a downtown location on a mid-week night.

We stayed downstairs, where they have about 16 taps. I had a Great Divide 17th Anniversary Wood Aged DIPA and my wife had Lagunitas Cappucino Stout. I was surprised to see a sour beer on tap, considering the relatively low number of overall taps.

The food selection is somewhat limited, but what we had was really good. I've only been once, but I get the impression that the menu rotates on a regular basis.

I'd definitely go back and have recommended it to out-of-towners coming to the area.

 666 characters

Photo of bikehorn
4.1/5  rDev -6.6%
vibe: 4.5 | quality: 4 | service: 4 | selection: 4 | food: 4.5

I can't hide the fact that I love the Busy Bee.

I think the atmosphere is good, but occasionally a little hipster heavy for me. It's really a beautiful space with exposed brick walls a nice bar.

The food there is great. I've lived through a couple iterations of the menu, but the tots, fried green tomatoes and tofu are all great. I have also enjoyed several of the soups they've offered, as well.

The beer selection is very good - and to be honest, the folks there know beer...for the most part. They only have a handful of taps, but they have some good stuff offered. They also have an interesting selection of bottles (and cocktails) if you're into that sort of thing. I've had an experience or two where a server has led me WAY astray when I was ordering. For the most part, however, the beer selection and knowledge are good.

I've had many EXCELLENT servers and one rotten one. I suppose sitting out in front of the restaurant on First Fridays leads to poor service, or cold food, or slow food, or being forgotten, but the other times truly have been great.

 1,066 characters

Photo of frazbri
4.13/5  rDev -5.9%
vibe: 4.5 | quality: 4.5 | service: 4.5 | selection: 3 | food: 4.5

Busy Bee Cafe is a bright and pleasant restaurant. I'd almost say it's more restaurant than bar, but that's not really right. It's a multi faceted place.

The first part you encounter is the cafe. (and I mean that as in coffee) Beyond that is the main body of the restaurant with the long bar along the left side. There is also an upstairs area and a rooftop patio. I'll focus on the downstairs.

The main bar has eight taps. Most notable was Brooklyn Backbreaker. They also stock some pretty impressive bottles. (Some rare, some pricey, but all worthy)

The menu is a step or two above standard pub fare. Yes, they do burgers and sandwiches, but they also serve shrimp & grits, organic chicken hoppin' john, and braised lamb shanks. I had the shrimp & grits as it's not something you find in my neighborhood. Good stuff.

Service was very good. The bartender kept on top of things, and seemed like a good fellow.

This is another place I would return to if I get the chance.

 976 characters

Photo of loverofthecraft
4.18/5  rDev -4.8%
vibe: 4 | quality: 4.25 | service: 4.25 | selection: 4.25 | food: 3.75

Photo of dirtylou
4.21/5  rDev -4.1%
vibe: 4.5 | quality: 4.25 | service: 4 | selection: 4.25

Cool little spot in downtown Raleigh - watch out for the bus depot a few doors down - tons of terrifying looking vagrants nearby. Inside the busy bee is a warm and comfortable place though.

We had just crushed some BBQ at Cooper's and were looking forward to pizza at Trophy, so we didn't eat here. The menu looked solid though, and everything coming out of the kitchen looked great. I'd definitely plan a subsequent visit around dinner I think.

the selection is a little odd - tons of bottles at a pretty high premium and 15-20 unique taps between the 2 bars. Nothing was particularly enticing on our visit - i opted for the BA hoppyum which was better than expected. Taps appear to turn quickly, and should always be good, but haven't ever been great when I've looked.

Eagle eye-blackie spotted some BCBCS in the cooler that wasnt advertised so we domed a few coffee wales, which turned out to be just the kick in the pants we needed for our Raleigh adventure night.

 971 characters

Photo of dunix
4.25/5  rDev -3.2%

Photo of jak
4.25/5  rDev -3.2%

Photo of dailyminefield
4.25/5  rDev -3.2%

Photo of bostonbeans
4.25/5  rDev -3.2%
vibe: 4.25 | quality: 4.25 | service: 4 | selection: 4.5

Photo of RyanAU
4.25/5  rDev -3.2%

Photo of Highbury09
4.25/5  rDev -3.2%

Photo of GABrew
4.25/5  rDev -3.2%

Photo of CavemanRamblin
4.25/5  rDev -3.2%

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Busy Bee Cafe in Raleigh, NC
Place rating: 4.39 out of 5 with 69 ratings