Zest Cafe & Home Art

by Catherine Currin
photographs by Eamon Queeney

“We have a daily soup with whatever’s fresh, which is always a hit. This month we’ve also got an heirloom tomato sandwich and N.C. catfish sandwich.” —Amanda Swirsky, co-owner, Zest Cafe & Home Art

There’s a hidden gem at Six Forks Station, tucked between Home Depot and Supercuts. Zest Cafe & Home Art packs a lot of punch into its retail space with colorful, sometimes cheeky, cocktail napkins and picture frames and glassware; elegant serving platters; luxe candles; clever children’s gifts. At the checkout register, you might be tempted by the homemade cookies and brownies for sale: There’s an adjoining cafe. “We’re pretty much a 50-50 spot,” says co-owner Ben Swirsky.

Swirsky’s parents founded Zest in 1993, and he and his wife, Amanda Swirsky, took over five years ago. Together, the couple have evolved the space to match its surrounding North Raleigh community, emphasizing sophisticated gifts and farm-to-table fare. The cafe did away with breakfast service in favor of Sunday brunch, as well as lunch and dinner daily, and often hosts wine and beer dinners. The Swirskys say the best thing about working together is the community they’ve found at, and through, Zest. “We love being the place in North Raleigh where people come in several times a week,” Ben Swirsky says. And it’s just as fun when a first-time visitor is pleasantly surprised.

8831 Six Forks Road; zestcafehomeart.com