Farewell St. James, We Hope Not Forever

From the moment the St. James Restaurant opened in 2017 it has been a favorite of ours. It was announced at least a year before to be replacing the very smelly and terrible Fish Mongers on Main Street. We were a little skeptical that the new place could get the old fish smell out of the building, but they did it and with such style. The white tile walls and navy leather banquets were anything but fishmongery.

Whenever we thought about going out to dinner the St. James was always top of the list. Then, not two years after opening it was closed due to a gas explosion around the corner in a building attached to theirs. The explosion actually happened in the old Studebaker show room which had been the offices of Durham Magazine for a while where I worked.

Patiently we waited for the St. James to reopen. It took almost three years. It was just as good. We brought friends from Raleigh to eat there and they were looking forward to coming back. Then suddenly word came down that their lease was not being renewed as someone is going to tear down the last three remaining places on the block that survived the explosion to put up something newer and most certainly taller.

So with mere days left to still be a restaurant we went for dinner tonight. The place was packed with well wishers. The staff said the St. James will re-emerge in a new space that is yet to be determined. It’s so sad they lost all that time after the explosion.

The funny thing is tonight we were seated at the same table we sat at the night before the explosion. We look forward to seeing you again soon St. James. Your motto is so Durham, “quality seafood. Reasonably Good-Times.” It’s been so much better than reasonable. It’s been just great times!

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