Beyu Caffe and Downtown Durham thrive in diversity

As we wrap up our diversity series here at Urban MJ, this week’s blog post is all about one of Downtown Durham’s most iconic restaurants,  Beyu Caffe, started by passionate thought leader in the African American community, Dorian Bolden. Downtown Durham is one of our favorite areas to explore and when on W Main St., the Jazzy Shrimp and Grits just can’t be turned down. Over the past ten years, Beyu has truly evolved to fit the needs of the community. From opening a sister cafe on Duke’s campus to now starting their catering program, Beyu has tons to offer and has proved to be a Durham staple. Best part of it all–locally owned by a Durham native. Plus, coffee. 

Beyu Caffe (pronounced be-you) was founded in 2009 by Duke University graduate, Dorian Bolden, to be the ultimate community gathering place where everyone could “be you”. The name and idea stems from Dorian’s lifelong experiences in various social and cultural settings whereby he believes that we all have more in common than we do differences. Bolden wanted a place in Bull City accepting of all, regardless of the color of your skin or the gender you identify with. Post his studies at Duke, Bolden moved to NYC and worked on Wall Street. Though he knew he had a stable job, he started asking himself the same question we all come to, “What do I really want to do with my life?” The answer was simple, to do something he was passionate about. Though most of us usually stay in the comfort zone and don’t chase the crazy sounding dream, Bolden went for it. He learned the ins and outs of coffee and moved back to his old stomping grounds of Durham. 

After lots of thinking and almost giving up on the idea, Bolden finally decided to give it his all. It all started in 2008, with friends and community members helping Dorian develop Beyu Caffe’s signature coffee blend. Beyu’s signature coffee blend is named Heart & Soul because one of the participants noted that the coffee was smooth and delicious that it touched her very heart and soul. Ten years later the Heart & Soul Blend remains popular and a favorite in the community. In December 2009, Beyu Caffe opened its doors to the public. Then, what started as just a coffee cafe, began garnering regional recognition as a music powerhouse venue. Local performers were constantly filling the Beyu space with food for the ears and music for the soul. Dining at Beyu became more than just dinner, it became an entire experience.

Downtown Durham has seen a long history of greatly successful African American owned businesses and we are so happy to see Beyu thriving over the past decade. I think part of what has made Beyu so successful is Bolden’s passion for diversity in the workforce. Bolden told the Herald Sun in recent years that, “To ensure an equitable mix, you have to pay attention to your hiring process, he said — adding that he doesn’t look at criminal records in that process, and he prioritizes an even male-to-female ratio as well as hiring transgender employees”. Bolden has hosted many cultural and political events in his restaurant as well; daring to be bold and risking butting heads with clients who might have different beliefs. Bolden’s bold moves have led to a thriving business and new endeavors. Beyu’s success is a great explanation on Durham’s history and one of the reasons it is so successful…diversity thrives here and in business also.

For years, Beyu was filled with live music, great food, and coffee. As I mentioned before, what is unique about Beyu is the way they change as their community does. Beyu knows how to pivot and to do it with great success. At the beginning of this year, Beyu Caffe made the difficult decision to say good-bye to its live music operation in order to focus on its coffee and restaurant operations, and concentrate on delivering delicious food and coffee. Though the live music is no longer a part of Beyu, that heart and soul is there and stronger than ever. You can feel Bolden’s passion for community when you walk through the doors. There is a space for all at Beyu Caffe.

The hardwork and difficult changes to make have definitely paid off. Downtown Durham is growing and so are Beyu’s offerings. They are now selling their signature blend by the bag in store and have a great catering service for events small and large. It’s not everyday you find a catering service that can bring shrimp and grits to your work meeting. If you have yet to enjoy Beyu Caffe, it is a must try. The space is warm and welcoming and you’re sure to never leave without a smile on your face.They use many local ingredients in their dishes as well. From breakfast for someone on the go, or coffee and tables for coworking, there is something for everyone. 


Photography sourced from

Legends Nightclub celebrates 28 years

As we continue our dive into diversity series here at Urban MJ, this week’s blog post is in celebration of one of Downtown Raleigh’s original settlers of the Warehouse District. Many of you, if you’re local to the Raleigh area, are familiar with the Downtown scene staple, Legends Nightclub. 

Known as one of Raleigh’s best nightclubs, Legends has become a nightlife staple. The popular nightclub just celebrated its 28th anniversary and we thought what better way to celebrate than to dive into the Legends history. What started out as an old repair shop in the late 50s, has now grown into one of Raleigh’s largest nightclubs and has made a huge impact on the city. 

Legends stands for diversity and acceptance, but did not always have an easy time doing so. A short time after opening, Legends was facing lawsuits from the city with claims that Legends was performing illegal entertainment. The Legends owners were faced with a year and a half long battle with the State Supreme Court, just to be able to keep their doors open. Their long and costly battle has been well worth it. Legends has given many locals a place to express themselves and speak their truth. Legends is also a big supporter for many nonprofits such as the LGBT Center of Raleigh, Alliance of AIDS Services of the Carolinas, A Place at the Table, and many other organizations. Their passion for diversity has had a positive impact on our community and continues to be a true model of diversity. 

Legends has also played a major role in the economic development and urban revitalization of Raleigh and the Warehouse District. The nightclub is THE original entertainment retail in Downtown Raleigh. Not only did Legends start the movement of gay nightclubs into the Raleigh area, but also had a major impact of the movement of other retail into the disctrict as well. When Legends began, the Warehouse District was nothing like it is now. . When they started, it truly was like the name, only home to warehouses. Land prices have skyrocketed from about $500,000 an acre to now about $8,000,000 an acre. The success of Legends proved that the Warehouse District was going to be a good place to be located and they are now neighbored by the Dillon, Raleigh’s first food hall, and soon to be open, Weaver Street Market. There are also huge real estate plans for towers to be built all around it. Legends and its contribution has essentially turned The Warehouse District into “The Creative District”. Its own real estate has dramatically risen in value, but Legends plans at least another 28 years.

Legends Nightclub in Raleigh, NC has been the leader in LGBT nightlife in the Triangle. Many clubs followed once Legends proved successful, but Legends reigns as the original gay nightclub. If you visit Legends today, you can clearly see that all of Raleigh loves it. You will find men and women, gay and straight, of all ages. Legends has become a nightclub that welcomes all people, regardless of what your preferences are. As their website states, “Legends Nightclub Complex is what you want it to be!” And it is THE place to visit for a drag show. Legends was the first in Raleigh to house drag shows and to become a drag professional nationally, you would have to go through Legends for that kind of recognition.

As their success has grown, so has their space. Legends Nightclub now has four large sections: The Spotlight Theater where all the drag shows happen, an outdoor patio bar, and an indoor bar with an arcade area, and their indoor dance club area. So whether you just want a drink, play some arcade games, or see a drag show, Legends is the place to go. 

Congratulations to Legends Nightclub and cheers to your 28th birthday! If you have not checked out this welcoming place in Downtown Raleigh, it’s a must see! 


Freshness for All


A new and thankful urban trend that goes along side the push for affordable housing. It is all about providing equal access to life’s benefits for those less economically fortunate. How about providing healthy foods equal access? Forward thinking cities are taking charge.

This topic bring to mind one of our articles earlier in the year about local nonprofit cafe, A Place at the Table. A Place at the Table is proud to serve alongside the more than 60 other pay-what-you-can restaurants in the global One World Everybody Eats network. Head west to Boone and you’ll find their mentor restaurant, F.A.R.M. Café ,one of the most successful models in the country.

Visitors of these cafes can pay the suggested prices, pay at least half the suggested price, or pay by volunteering at the cafe! Visitors can also pay for someone else’s meal or purchase a $10 token that pays for a future visitor’s meal.

Many urban community gardens have harvests open to all. Residents are fully welcome to help tend to these gardens, harvest the crop, and take home some freshness. Aside from the availability to fresh and locally grown food, these gardens also bring together people of all kinds living in the same community. These establishments and gardens bring us all together over what we all have in common, the hunger for something great.


Check out some of the laws being pushed for community gardens: 

A Street Where Cars are Illegal. Yes, it is true.

Can you imagine car free streets!? Ones only meant for buses so that even more people can getting where they need to be, all at once. Imagine if we prioritized things a little differently. A bus can carry 20 people all at one in one vehicle, creating no morning traffic. What if we made our schedule in effort to be better for the environment?

In Downtown Brooklyn Street, Fulton Street is restricted to cars. It is illegal to drive your car on this city street!! Unimaginable to us, but a lesson to be learned and a neat concept to think about. 20,000 people ride daily in that city’s bus system and cars illegally driving on this street create many issues.

Check out this article to learn about this city’s car stopping effort:

The App that could end all Traffic

“You could call Jakarta, Indonesia’s capital, Los Angeles on steroids. More people, fewer roads and less public transit mean massive traffic. The metropolitan area is home to more than 20 million, and while it’s designed to hold only a fraction of that, the number is still growing. Overdevelopment has left it vulnerable to floods, and lacking sidewalks and green spaces. The city, a web of clogged roads, was ranked the most congested city in the world last year by Castrol’s Stop-Start index, which uses GPS satellites to track the number of times that vehicles need to stop. But now that might be changing.” One app in Indonesia is changing the usual flow. GO-JEK is a motorcycle taxi app servicing the people of Jakarta. With 11 million users, the app is cutting down traffic congestion hugely.

What are your thoughts on increasing motorcycle use to help speed up traffic? Do you think that with a higher amount of riders, car drivers would be more alert and safe around motorcyclists?

The Bird Scooter Craze: Why We Love It

If You’re a Bird, I’m a Bird

If you have been anywhere near Downtown Raleigh, then I am sure you’ve seen the latest craze to hit the streets…SCOOTERS.

Image result for bird scooter

Photo By: Bird Scooter

I remember when I first saw two or three friends on scooters riding by when I was sitting outside Raleigh TImes enjoying a nice sangria and chicken taco. I thought, “Wow they’re so hip, riding through the streets of Downtown on a motor scooter. I wish I had a motor scooter.” At the time, I thought it was just some people bringing out their old motor scooters from out of their garage, being quite original. Then, after that day, the Bird scooter trend seemed to explode. As I scrolled through social media that week, pictures of people on scooters was a great percentage of what I was seeing and an informational post from Offline Media let me know how I could ride one too.

From the Cameron Village and Hillsborough St. area, all the way to Downtown, anyone can hop on a Bird scooter and pay per minute to travel to your apartment or next meal. The app charges you $1 to get started and fifteen cents per minute after that.

Now, I am sure most of you have experienced the Bird scooter in one way or another. Whether you’ve actually rode or just seen them zooming by, it’s a pretty common Downtown sight, BUT let’s talk about the new buzz surrounding Bird in Raleigh….safety and regulations.

Some recent articles are discussing the possible removal of Bird scooters due to safety concerns, but I think these safety issues are a hurdle that could be easy to clear. Some education, driving experience, and safe driving could easily eliminate the concerns. Maybe scooters should come with helmets, maybe age limits should be in place, or maybe some people should be a little less daring, these are easy sacrifices to allow these scooters a safe presence in our city.

Why we support the Bird:

  • Creates more space- Our city allows so much space for vehicles. Let’s share space so people will drive more scooters!
  • Better for the environment- Scooters are ⅓ the size of a car, which means they release that much less pollution. Compare a 3000 lbs automobile to a 30 lbs e-scooter; the difference is huge.  We all know driving scooters is better for the environment than taking your car, especially if you’re only going somewhere 5 minutes away. Don’t be that extra.
  • A helping hand to those without vehicles- Ever had your car broken down? It’s the worst. If you’re near a Bird scooter, you’re free as a bird to roam and be free. Also, for families who have chosen to only have one car, these scooters could help make travel easier
  • They make our city even more pedestrian friendly! 

Let’s face it…cars cause a lot of unhealthy pollution for our city, so reducing where we can is key! These scooters are also important to the all important “last half mile.” Your home is rarely a quarter mile or closer to public transit, so if you can hop on a scooter to get to the bus or Light Rail Station (in the future for Orange and Durham County), then you might take transit much more, staying out of your car, saving money AND the environment!

Most trends scoot in and out of popularity quite quickly, but I believe these scooters are here to stay. We’re here for it! They create a fun environment for the community and make shopping local more accessible. C’mon you’re not cool if you’re not zipping around on a Bird scooter.




Cover Photo by Quartz

Top 5 Picks for Convenient, Healthy Eating in the City of Raleigh

Trending as of lately is a strong focus on healthy eating in urban cities. Accessibility to healthy food is becoming more advocated to developers. As more studies and books about health and wellness come out, more people are aware of the ingredients they are eating and want to be served the best. There has been a demand for health focused restaurants all over the country, and right here in Raleigh. The healthy eating focus along with more people wanting to shop locally and support their communities, has resulted in many specialized restaurants catered to those who are concerned about their health and the environment.


There is a important link between human health and development, and communities need good health to thrive. Urban MJ has a real estate service practice that focuses on high walkability communities, especially downtowns. Easy access and walkability to these health focused restaurants is important to the community of the Triangle and urban cities around the country. As developing urban cities create more and more space for healthy eating, new businesses create unique product and initiatives. There are now juice bars, restaurants that use local, rotating ingredients, and even restaurants using grass-fed beef from farms in our state.


Here are our Top 5 Picks for Convenient, Healthy Eating in the City of Raleigh:


  1. Raleigh Raw

Located in the heart of Downtown, Raleigh Raw prides itself on their raw juice options and urban feel. They began delivering our 100% Raw, Organic, and Cold Pressed juices throughout the Triangle in 2013. As a nutrition and health coach, founder Sherif Fouad, has an obvious passion for bringing better health to his community and his juice bar is the manifestation of this passion. Raleigh Raw not only offers 12 bottled juices, perfect for on the go, but also has 3 juice cleanse options and a delivery juice subscription. “Raleigh Raw was created to inspire an optimal lifestyle through connection, acceptance and healthy highs, says owner Sherif Fouad,…We believe in the power of raw juice, pressing up to 5 lbs of produce into each 17oz bottle, which is the perfect way to get clean, healthy, and fast nutrition.” Check out their flagship store on 7 W Hargett St., Raleigh, NC 27601.

Follow along on social media at


  1. Clean Juice

Husband-and-wife team Landon and Kat Eckles also recognized the growing trend where people are now investing in their health, often spending more money on food than clothing. The entrepreneurs founded Clean Juice, the only USDA-certified organic juice bar franchise, with the mission of inspiring others to be healthy in body and strong in spirit. Products include acai bowls, juices, juice cleanses, smoothies, oat bowls, custom toast products, and other healthy snacks. There are now two locations in the Triangle, including one in the center of Park West Village, and one in Downtown Chapel Hill, walking distance to the college campus of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. If you’re in the Raleigh area, check out the Clean Juice in Park West Village, conveniently located beside Orangetheory Fitness!

Follow Clean Juice to check out their options at


  1. B Good

Now with a brand new location in Downtown Raleigh, one in North Hills and Park West Village, B. Good has become a delicious option in walkable distance from many offices and other retail stores. B. Good is the perfect place to take a lunch break or head to dinner for burgers. They offer chef created, real food made in partnership with NC farmers including seasonal salads, grass-fed burgers, and veggie bowls. They also have a catering service perfect for work events or parties! What is special about this place aside from the convenient locations is their amazing work with local farmers. Raleigh is a city all about community. Partnership is what makes the job get done. Follow along!


  1. Fiction Kitchen

Meet Fiction Kitchen, a local food revolution! After years of work in the food industry and their successful pop-up food events, The Fiction Kitchen has successfully make their dream come true: to open up a 100% vegetarian restaurant in Raleigh, North Carolina. Conveniently located in Downtown Raleigh, Fiction Kitchen serves your favorite dishes, but made vegetarian and vegan style. They specialize in vegetarian cuisine that is uniquely fresh, creative, locally sourced and carefully prepared. It is not just your plain jane veggie burger. They are also known for their fabulous brunch that varies between traditional brunch fare like French Toast, “bacon” and huevos rancheros to Thai food, “crab” cakes and southern classics like biscuits with gravy and pulled “pork” BBQ…. all made vegan!! They are located on 428 S. Dawson St., with close proximity to the art and warehouse district, the Depot and other downtown Raleigh nightlife, and the North Carolina State Farmers Market and the Raleigh Downtown Farmers Market which allows them to offer seasonal menu changes and create daily menu specials based on the freshest local produce available. Check out their beautiful food photography on their social media!


  1. Living Kitchen

Started in Charlotte, NC in 2012, Juliana Luna and Stephen Edwards discovered they shared a passion for plant-based cuisine. Both believed strongly in the positive benefits of living foods and felt that the city of Charlotte needed a restaurant that prepared organic, plant-based dishes of the taste, quality and presentation they desired. Juliana, with the creativity of a master chef, designed a plant-based menu that would surprise and delight the most discerning palates. The historic Atherton Mill in Charlotte’s South End proved an ideal location to design a restaurant that complimented the artistry of the food, and a neighborhood institution was born. Building on the success of the original South End location, Living Kitchen opened a location in Raleigh in 2016, followed by Chapel Hill. The Raleigh location is conveniently located in North Hills.


As you can see, healthy eating is only a few minutes away. These places are walkable from many apartments and homes, and are located in walking distance to some great fitness locations and retail stores! Boost your wellness by walking to your dinner and then eating a healthy meal at one of these delicious places! Cheers!

The Caffeine Connection

What do “Friends”​, Starbucks, the rise of the portable office and bootstrapping out of underemployment have in common?

What Made Coffeehouse Culture Go Boom?

A not-exactly-empirical analysis of how the cafe became a trademark of almost every city neighborhood.


Getting a Driverless Car for Christmas?

Getting a Driverless Car for Christmas? Read this first!

Practical and fun article from MIT Technology Review: Uber thinks its self-driving taxis could change the way millions of people get around. But autonomous vehicles aren’t anywhere near to being ready for the roads.