“In August, seasons are changing and new produce is coming in. It’s a refresh
and a restart. We’re excited to celebrate the new produce at Downtown
Raleigh Restaurant Week.”
–Baxter Miller, co-founder of Bit & Grain
by Jessie Ammons
photograph by Lissa Gotwals
Keeping up with Baxter Miller, Sandra Davidson, and Ryan Stancil isn’t for the faint of heart: The trifecta behind the weekly online multimedia publication Bit & Grain spends most of its time on the road, finding and telling stories across the state. “We are passionate about everyday people and everyday life,” says Davidson. Each week, the Bit & Grain website reflects that passion with a variety of content ranging from longform account to photo essay and video. Follow a day in the life of an herbalist in Weaverville, read a hard-hitting Q&A with an investigative reporter at The News & Observer, or watch a recent performance by a young Chapel Hill-based bluegrass band. There are playlists, city travel guides, and recipes.
Regardless of the tale, the common theme is the three founders’ home state. All graduates of UNC-Chapel Hill, they felt creatively frustrated, Davidson says, and “dissatisfied with the stories being told about North Carolina, both within it and by the media outside.” In true millennial fashion, they set out to do it themselves and two years ago began publishing weekly content without any outside funding. To make it work, they tapped into the Raleigh creative community. Davidson says another motivating factor behind the Bit & Grain launch was to unite their friends who “worked in the arts, or had been honing this talent of writing or documentary work.” Those friends were the site’s first contributors, a list that has only grown. “We want it to be a platform for millennial creatives to publish their work,” Stancil says.
Two years in, Bit & Grain has hit its stride and recently concluded a successful crowdfunding campaign. When not on the road, Miller, Davidson, and Stancil are at their headquarters in The Frontier at RTP. It’s a fitting home base because, of all the stories they tell, the capital city’s is one of their favorites. “Raleigh is a beautiful intersection of people and culture,” Stancil says. “It’s really incredible the transformation that’s happening.”
To keep up with them here, you’ve got to head to a restaurant.“We’re really excited to be part of a community that’s grown and developed and expanded so much in the past decade,” Stancil says. “We believe, in part, that’s been led by the food and beverage industry … As we’re thinking about foodways and thinking about the changing of seasons, we’re pausing to think about eating intentionally and about where our food comes from. Downtown Raleigh Restaurant Week is an opportunity to do that … to see what good is happening.”
Downtown Raleigh Restaurant Week takes place August 15-21, and this year there is a self-led progressive dinner option; learn more at godowntownraleigh.com/restaurant-week. Read Bit & Grain at bitandgrain.com