Saint James owner ready to 'get shucking' and reopen Durham restaurant after setbacks

DURHAM, N.C. (WTVD) -- The Saint James restaurant is getting ready to burst back onto the Bull City's culinary scene.

"Just excited to get back open again and get shucking," said Saint James owner Matt Kelly.

The seafood restaurant is reopening after enduring two big setbacks.

First, in 2019, there was a deadly natural gas explosion that rocked the downtown area. Two people were killed and more than two dozen people were injured.

The restaurant eventually reopened and only 39 days later, the global pandemic hit.

Stay-at-home orders shuttered doors at Saint James and countless other small businesses.

Kelly tried take-out for a bit before temporarily calling it quits and keeping the spot closed.

"My heart really goes out to people who lost their businesses and are still struggling. I feel very fortunate that I'm in the position to reopen and serve Durham again," said Kelly.

There's a good amount of work ahead. The West Main Street location needs to be cleaned up before window coverings can be taken down and customers are welcomed back inside.

Kelly is switching up the menu.

There will still be an extensive raw bar and seasonal dishes highlighting fish from the Carolina coast.

The restaurant is reopening sometime at the end of January, and Kelly is looking forward to hitting the reset button.

"My birthday is January 1st, so every year, I start from scratch and look forward to what we've got going on and what the future brings and be lucky that I'm around," said Kelly.
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