Downtown Durham Inc working on solutions for city center as long-standing café closes its door

Josh Chapin Image
Thursday, June 13, 2024
Long-standing café closing Downtown Durham location
Beyu Caffe, which has been on West Main Street for 14 years, announced the decision on social media.

DURHAM, N.C. (WTVD) -- One of Durham's long-time businesses is shutting its doors next week.

Beyu Caffe, which has been on West Main Street for 14 years, announced the decision on social media.

Several people were inside when ABC11 stopped by on Wednesday.

The owner, Dorian Bolden, said on Facebook and other platforms that he was making the tough decision because of high parking rates, ongoing construction, and the impact of remote work.

"We have seen a significant drop in activity that we can no longer sustain," he wrote.

Bolden texted Eyewitness News that he's grateful he can still keep his other locations including one on Duke's campus, another in RTP, and a new one at RDU International Airport open.

He said he's focused on helping his staff get toward the closure next week.

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"There's a positive to this," said Nicole Thompson, president and CEO of Downtown Durham Inc. "He got his start in downtown. He grew his foundation based in downtown. We will miss his presence but there are opportunities now for other businesses to grow here."

Thompson recently went to the city council to convey some of the issues local businesses are facing including lack of foot traffic, which is something we've seen in downtown locations across the country as remote work has remained popular.

Another is parking, especially for those who are coming to work at Downtown Durham restaurants.

"We are trying to work with the city on how we can address more equitable parking options for hourly employees, the people who are cleaning the dishes, washing the dishes, busing your tables, seating you at your restaurants when you go to DPAC and Carolina Theater," Thompson said.

They also want to make outdoor dining even more of a standard downtown.

Thompson said 70% of the businesses you see today started in Durham and they want to keep it that way.

Sean Umstead, co-owner of Kingfisher, Queeny's and Queen Burger, said parking is too expensive for employees coming downtown.

"Durham is an interesting inflection point to me," he said. "I think this is a moment where city council, residents of Durham, and business owners have to get together and say where are we going from here and do these little changes increase parking rates."

Umstead said downtown used to be a place where there was cheap rent and you could take a chance. He wants the signage for things downtown to be better as well.

"It's just a moment where you reposition creates layers to this issue of the viability of downtown Durham businesses. I am 100% committed to being active in Downtown and promoting it," he said.