Another section of town that’s booming these days is Durham’s West End. Between the bustling Durham Co-op and The Cookery’s modern event space and kitchen down the road, it’s become another “Durham destination” just a few minutes drive from downtown.
special to the Clarion Content
by: Amber Watson
Bites of Bull City
A few weeks ago, we wrote about Joe Van Gogh’s plans to open its fourth Durham shop in a converted gas station across the street from the Co-op (a space the coffee shop will share with Local Yogurt), and right next door, will be a modern diner called Grub, brought to you by local Durhamite Wendy Woods and her spouse Stacey Poston who have lived in the West End neighborhood for over 20 years. Wendy, who also owns Nosh, Jo Rae Cafe at Duke Medical Center, and Piper’s in the Park (with business partner Piper Lunsford) is no stranger to the restaurant scene, but opening a local joint in their very own neighborhood has been a long-time dream come true.
A sneak peek at the space during a chat with the new General Manager Sy Davis (who worked most recently at Watts Grocery) unveiled many of the thoughtful details in the diner’s decor, paying homage to the history of the space. It’s a very cool mix of rustic and modern industrial design.
There is a large black and white photograph of the old Pure gas station on the wall (the original incarnation of the building). Bunker Design developed the brand identity and interior design, including exterior neon sign and custom wallpaper featuring Grub and other Durham landmarks printed by Durham-based custom printer Spoonflower. Much of the wood used in the restaurant is reused and repurposed barn wood from The Reuse Warehouse. The talented local architect, Ellen Cassilly, had a hand in bringing it all together.
There are wide garage doors to create an open air feel, a convenient walk-up window, and we can’t forget about the rooftop patio area that overlooks the West Chapel Hill Street neighborhood (and can also be rented out for private groups/events).
As for the food, Wendy and Stacey are probably most excited to showcase a wood fired grill where they’ll be cooking fresh Angus burgers and other proteins over hickory wood. “We’ll also be using our in-house smoker for ribs and brisket with a Cheerwine barbecue sauce and hickory smoked pork and chicken for our signature Brunswick stew: Wendy’s family recipe,” shares Stacey.
There will be homemade pastrami, cured in-house, for the sandwiches and breakfast hash bowl (pictured below). Breakfast will also feature breakfast bowls, scratch-made buttermilk and sweet potato biscuits, as well as homemade honey buns (pictured below), and homemade maple-walnut granola.
Dessert will feature a homemade heath bar pie and homemade ice creams, as well as grilled banana bread and double chocolate espresso cake.
Also pictured below is the beer-battered shiitake and oyster mushroom sandwich with feta cheese, Sriracha ranch, and Mixed greens on toasted ciabatta.
Fans of Wendy’s other restaurants can expect to find the occasional cross-over items on the menu: things like the Blue Devil smoothie, made with house-made peanut butter (a secret ingredient), as well as other items like pancakes and biscuits at breakfast.
The nice thing about Grub is that it will be a more casual dining experience, which lends itself to a relaxed neighborhood feel. Patrons will order at the counter (or take-out window) and can hang out in the main seating area downstairs, the rooftop, or on the front patio space when the weather is nice and the garage doors are open.
There will be light bites as well as entrée-sized meals available all day. The walk-up window, along with serving light bites, will also provide a quick-start breakfast for people on-the-run, especially during the week. For those wanting to dine on the roof, the walk-up window will be perfect to grab a quick bite to eat and a beverage on the fly.
This new neighborhood hangout is just finishing up the final touches and will be officially open for business in mid-July.
Decor Photos: Tommie Watson Photography; Food Photos: Courtesy of Grub