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Bull City Staples: Legacy Durham Businesses

Estimated Read Time:
4 minutes

A new renaissance is brewing in Durham, but that beauty has been blossoming in business well before this recent resurgence.

Posted By Ashley Strahm

From early tobacco mills to Black Wall Street, Durham's entrepreneurial spirit has never wavered. Durham business owners believe in the potential of the Bull City, and have planted family-owned pharmacies, pioneering insurance companies, banks and more. Here, we celebrate just some of the longtime (15 years old or more!) inns, eateries, and shops in our community that you can enjoy on your next adventure.

Downtown Durham

Bull City Running

501 Washington St. D

Kim Chapman and Jason Page opened Bull City Running in 2008 as the hub of the local running community. Their focus on customer service, thoughtful advice and quality products keep their customers returning year after year.

Devine's

904 W. Main St.

Since 1978, Devine’s has been a foundational Brightleaf Square district staple and Durham restaurant. Sports games, live music, entertainment and great eats and beverages mean great times.

The Federal

914 W. Main St.

This Main Street mainstay just celebrated is 15th anniversary. As the story goes, "in March of 2004, after three guys got together and saw a need for a solid neighborhood bar that celebrated Durham." Over a decade and a half later, they're still going strong.

Hamilton Hill

905 W. Main St.

Hamilton Hill has been creating beautiful, timeless, unique pieces of jewelry since 2001, taking up residence in the refurbished mills of Brightleaf Square. Michael Hamilton and Sarah Hill founded Hamilton Hill intending to create a community from which to serve and delight all who walk through the store doors.

James Joyce Irish Pub & Restaurant

912 W Main St.

Transporting guests to the Emerald Isle since 1998, James Joyce Irish Pub uses fresh local ingredients to serve up some of the best pub fare in town. Take a seat any night of the week for a generous helping of bangers and mash or a Reuben stacked high with house-made corned beef. On Tuesdays, you can flex your brain at trivia while enjoying a plate of fish and chips.

JC's Kitchen

706 E. Main St.

Around 1997, what used to be Parker’s restaurant was converted into a place called Lee’s. A year later, the place was refashioned as J.C.’s ... "Where the food is anointed, you won't be disappointed." Visit for that good, Southern cooking, and stay for the storied history.

A sunny sky stretches over the mural on the side of JC's Kitchen in Durham, NC.

JC's Kitchen pays homage to its original founder, Sheilah Lee, by the mural on the side of the building. Photo: Estlin Haiss / Discover Durham

Jewelsmith

2200 W. Main St.

Linda McGill started Jewelsmith in 1976 with a vision of creating artistic, handcrafted custom jewelry that could be passed from generation to generation. Holding itself to the highest ethical standards, this jewelry store conscientiously selects suppliers with standards that match their own.

King's Sandwich Shop

701 Foster St.

Clad in concrete red and white, King's has been serving up some of Durham's best hot dogs, burgers, fries and shakes since 1942. You won't want to miss out on this Warehouse District staple.

Customers line up to get tasty sandwiches at King's Sandwich Shop in Durham, NC.

Whether there's a line or not, a sandwich at King's is always worth the wait. Photo: Discover Durham

Morehead Manor Bed and Breakfast

914 Vickers Ave.

Owned by Daniel and Monica Edwards, Morehead Manor Bed and Breakfast opened to the public back in 1997 as a staple of African American excellence in hospitality. Each of the four spacious guest rooms have a private bath, and the inn serves complimentary beverages, homemade desserts, and a full breakfast each morning.

A hotel room at Morehead Manor Bed & Breakfast basks in sunlight through sheer curtains in Durham, NC.

If you're looking for a unique stay, book a room at Morehead Manor Bed & Breakfast. Photo: Discover Durham

Ninth Street Bakery

136 E. Chapel Hill St.

This beloved staple has been serving those beautiful bread and pastry smells since 1981! Over the years, Ninth Street Bakery has taken many forms, starting with its original cafe on Ninth Street. Its current location at Five Points has a full-service cafe as well as a wholesale operation that extends from Greensboro to Raleigh.

Not Just Paper

1010 W. Main St.

Not Just Paper has been providing the Durham community with paper products and more for over 100 years. Located across the street from Brightleaf Square, Not Just Paper has everything from school supplies to party and catering items.

Parker and Otis

324 Blackwell St.

Lovingly named "PandO" by locals, this stalwart has moved from the Brightleaf District to American Tobacco Campus and remains a trusted source for cookbooks, Durham-themed gifts, specialty food items, a great wine selection and beloved, borderline-addictive sandwich and coffee menus.

The Pinhook

117 W. Main St.

Operating "since 4eva" (2008), The Pinhook is an LGBTQ-friendly bar and venue for music and creative events. Look for touring musical acts, drag shows and "Yolo Karaoke" nights, among many others, at this downtown staple.

Toast

345 W. Main St.

Toast has been serving the downtown lunch crowd hot and cold Italian-style sandwiches, salads, homemade soups and crostini with a friendly smile since 2008. Owner Kelli Cotter is behind the register most days, and you'll know you've achieved 'local' status when she remembers you by name.

A customer smiles as they eat a sandwich on the patio in front of Toast in Durham, NC.

Enjoy a paninni with a side of downtown street views on the front patio at Toast. Photo: Jessie Gladdek

Vert & Vogue

353 W. Main St.

Downtown boutique Vert & Vogue was founded in 2008 over founders Ryan and Nadira Hurley's mutual love of fashion. They met in a Paris boutique and were inspired by independent designers' mindfully-made designs. Now a B Corporation, the shop's immaculate selection and top-notch service are bolstered by its commitment to conscious sourcing.

Storefront of downtown Durham boutique and B corp dedicated to mindful sourcing and sustainable practices.

Find the perfect item to add to your wardrobe at Vert & Vogue. Photo: Discover Durham

Duke & 9th Street

Barnes Supply Co.

774 9th St.

In 1947, Lee "Shorty" Barnes started Barnes Supply Co. as an agricultural supply store to give local families what they needed to provide for themselves. As Durham changed, Barnes Supply Co. changed with it. Seeing the decline in need for their traditional offerings, but an increase in need for pet supplies, Barnes Supply Co. transitioned to better serve its community, like it always has. Now, it still sells agricultural supplies but also provides the community with pet care products.

Blue Corn Cafe

716 9th St.

A Ninth Street staple for over 20 years, "Chef Antonio enjoys fusing the flavors of his native country Mexico with authentic flavors from all over the Caribbean and South America." With a robust lunch and dinner menu, this restaurant is sure to leave guests happy and full.

Cosmic Cantina

1920 Perry St.

A late-night staple for college students and more, Cosmic Cantina has been rolling burritos and filling bellies since 1995. You can get burritos, nachos, chimichangas or quesadillas every day at Cosmic from 11:00 a.m. to 4:00 a.m..

Elmo's

716 9th St.

Elmo’s Diner has been a local Durham favorite for more than twenty years, with the vast majority of visitors coming back over, and over again for classic, tried-and-true diner food and a family-friendly atmosphere.

LocoPops

2618 Hillsborough Rd.

What started as a recognizable vintage van in 2005 is now a beloved family-friendly spot for Mexican-style pops and a wide variety of ice cream flavors. The spot has expanded to include "Sundries," a shop filled with locally made food items and gifts.

An employee hands a popsicle to a customer at LocoPops in Durham

Beat the heat with a popsicle from LocoPops. Photo: Discover Durham

Parizade

2200 W. Main St.

Founded more than 30 years ago, Parizade is the flagship restaurant in legendary restauranteur Giorgios Bakatsias' still-growing legacy of businesses. Diners flock to enjoy this staple's signature service and Mediterranean flavors, and devotees especially look forward to holiday brunch buffets.

Guests fill the dining room at Parizade in Durham, NC.

Enjoy the Mediterranean flavors at Parizade. Photo: Devin Raines / Parizade

The Regulator Bookshop

720 9th St.

Since 1976, this locally owned, independent bookstore has been the source of a diverse array of reading material, thought-provoking speakers and thrilling discourse ... as well as the occasional kitten! This is the place to go if you're in need of a new page-turner.

Books stack high on shelves waiting to be enjoyed by customers at The Regulator book store in Durham, NC.

Enjoy perusing the stacks at The Regulator. Photo: Discover Durham

The Tavern

1900 W. Markham Ave.

The Tavern has been a staple neighborhood bar for the residents of West Durham and beyond since 2009. Plan your next party at the Tavern, or show up any evening you'd like to play some pool or a few rounds of darts with friends.

Vaguely Reminiscent

728 9th St.

Trinkets to make you smile, shoes to step lightly in, postcards to send to loved ones ... you'll find it all at this shop tucked between shops on bustling Ninth Street, offering brilliant boutique finds since 1982.

15-501

Bullock's Bar-B-Cue

3330 Quebec Dr.

Bullock's has been smoking and pulling pork since 1952, and is a draw for locals, celebrities, and barbecue lovers everywhere. As Durham's longest continuous-running restaurant, Bullock's has a verifiable record of filling bellies and delighting taste buds. You can head into the restaurant to get your fix or have them cater your event.

Ole NC BBQ

3600 N. Duke St.

Founded in 1984, this casual, Eastern-style barbecue caterer offers fried chicken, hush puppies, Brunswick stew, and other North Carolina classics. You can pick up your catering order or, if your group is big enough, have the folks at Ole NC BBQ give you the full service experience.

Only Burger

3710 Shannon Rd.

Since 2008, "The only burger you'll ever want!" has gained devoted followers from its food truck to its Shannon Road brick-and-mortar. With numerous titles to Indy Week's Triangle's Best Burger, the quality and simplicity speak for themselves.

A burger and fries from Durham's original locally-owned burger joint, Only Burger.

It's hard to beat a burger and fries from Only Burger. Photo: Only Burger / Discover Durham

Shanghai Chinese Restaurant

3433 Hillsborough Rd.

This restaurant has been up and running since the late 1980s, boasting the same ownership for the last 15 years. Chef Ah Lack Wong aims to provide his customers with not only Americanized Chinese food, but also authentic Cantonese cuisine to those who want a little taste of China.

Washington Duke Inn & Golf Club

3001 Cameron Blvd.

The Washington Duke Inn first opened its doors in 1988 to serve the communities of Duke University and Durham. The hotel is named for industrialist and philanthropist Washington Duke (1820-1905), who would go on to found one of the earliest entrepreneurial ventures in the Bull City — the American Tobacco Company. The Inn features beautiful terraces, an amazing golf course, and meeting, conference, and wedding spaces.

A clear sky overlooks the course at Washington Duke Inn Golf Course.

Treat yourself to a stay at the Washington Duke Inn & Golf Club. Photo: / Washington Duke Inn & Golf Club / Discover Durham

Lakewood & Rockwood

Foster's Market

2694 Durham-Chapel Hill Blvd.

In 1990, Sara Foster and her husband, Peter Sellers moved to Durham, North Carolina and opened Foster’s Market, offering seasonal prepared foods to eat in or take out, specialty grocery items, locally roasted coffee and select wines. This local gathering place is a favorite of locals and visitors alike, with eclectic indoor and outdoor spaces.

A woman and child stand at the counter at Foster's Market in Durham, NC.

The diverse offerings at Foster's Market ensure everyone can find something they're looking for. Photo: Jessie Gladdek

Guglhupf Bakery, Cafe & Biergarten

2706 Durham-Chapel Hill Blvd.

Established in 1998, this bakery, cafe and biergarten touts its innovation while serving contemporary cuisine with a nod to its southern German roots, and emphasizing local and seasonal ingredients, pushing cultural influences to modern, progressive limits.

Restaurant goers socialize under the canopy at Guglhupf as they enjoy their meals.

Take a trip to Germany by ordering a coffee and a pastry at Guglhupf. Photo: Discover Durham

Nanas

2514 University Dr.

Durham bid farewell to Nana's, chef Scott Howell's beloved community staple in 2018. Five years later, prolific chef Matt Kelly has resurrected the legendary restaurant in Rockwood. Enjoy its seasonally changing menu, which makes the most of local ingredients, and great wine list.

Wine Authorities

2501 University Dr.

Focusing on small, family-owned wineries, Wine Authorities has been helping Durham locals find their next favorite bottle since 2007. Located in Rockwood, this bottle shop is a great stop for any and all wine lovers, whether you know what you're looking for or not.

A couple share a glass of wine on a sunny day outside of Wine Authorities in Durham, NC.

Enjoy a glass of wine with a friend at Wine Authorities or grab a bottle for later. Photo: Jessie Gladdek / Discover Durham

North Durham

Currents Cafeteria

3002 N Roxboro St.

For more than five decades, Deborah Craig and Sook Rha have made this hole-in-the-wall stop a place you can enjoy all the Southern classics.

Super Taqueria and La Superior

2842 N Roxboro St.

In 2001, Rosalia Flores opened Super Taqueria on North Roxboro Road. a Mexican immigrant, Flores said that nobody would rent property to her so she secured a loan from the Mechanics and Farmers Bank, a Black-owned bank, and built the restaurant herself. Her food made the restaurant such a success that just four years later, she expanded to open a large supermarket, La Superior, which includes a panaderia, taqueria and tortilleria where shoppers can buy hot, fresh tortillas right off the press.

South Durham

Backyard BBQ Pit

5122 NC-55

Since 2007, Backyard BBQ Pit has been a community fixture for feeding its patrons delicious barbecue and for serving the area by employing people reentering society after incarceration. National Geographic and Yahoo! Travel have featured it.

Chicken Hut

3019 Fayetteville St.

Have you even had fried chicken 'till you've come to Chicken Hut? This is the epicenter of soul food, serving mac and cheese, collards and the good stuff for over sixty years.

Pulcinella's Italian Restaurant

4711 Hope Valley Rd.

Open since 1994, the owners of Pulcinella's believe that their customers return as regulars because of the professional and friendly staff, excellent service, delicious food, and reasonable prices. This Southern Italian restaurant has been voted best Italian restaurant in Durham five times.

Long live these flavors and wares of Durham!

About the Author

Ashley Strahm

Jersey roots, Durham fruits. Lover of all things edible, egalitarian and true. Find me clad in Birkenstocks, seeking Bull City Beautiful stories by trail, wheel and spoke.