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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 https://beyucaffe.com/ 

https://www.heraldsun.com/news/business/article139958068.html

Top 5 Picks for Experiential Retail in Durham

  1. Parker and Otis

112 South Duke St

There is only one place in Durham where you can get a latte, lunch, and the perfect birthday gift all at once, and that is Parker & Otis. Parker & Otis is a unique combination of restaurant and gift shop. Located in historic Downtown Durham, they are open seven days a week, serving breakfast and lunch with an amazing array of gifts, gourmet foods, cheese, wine and candy. Their menu is created with many locally sourced ingredients and coffee from Durham’s very own, Counter Culture. Aside from ingredients grown and handpicked in the Triangle, they also have other goods from all over NC. From Winston to Wilmington, Parker & Otis carries all sorts of baked goods and other non perishables in their shop.

Whether you’re shopping for a birthday, making a gift basket for a friend going through a hard time, or just want a new coffee spot to hang with your friends, Parker & Otis is a must try.

 

2. Vert and Vogue

353 W. Main St

Before I tell you about this story, fall in love with its story, “Nadira and Ryan Hurley, founders of Vert & Vogue, met in Paris in 2001 at a men’s boutique managed by Nadira. After buying a new wardrobe from her, Ryan couldn’t help but ask Nadira out on a date. After a little persistence (she didn’t date her customers), she accepted. They were soon married in 2002. Following a honeymoon year living in Paris, they moved to New York and started a family. They soon found themselves in the suburbs wanting more. For Ryan, that meant a green business. For Nadira, a return to retail fashion. From those intentions, the concept of Vert & Vogue was born. The gritty revitalizing city of Durham would become its perfect home. Nadira and Ryan opened the doors of Vert & Vogue on September 10, 2008.” Vert and Vogue is known for being the best selection of contemporary goods for women from today’s top independent designers and they fully live up to the expectation.

Vert & Vogue goes above and beyond a simple clothing store. They offer mindfully-made designs and personal styling, with care. They curate hard-to-find clothes, shoes, accessories, and home goods and have a heart for quality. Coolest of all is that in December 2017, they became a certified B Corp. They are committed to supporting artisans who create on a small scale and focus on sustainable practices. Take a closer look at the quality of your closet, and then step into Vert & Vogue to make some important changes.  

 

3. The Zen Succulent

121 Market Street

When mother/daughter team of Margaret and Megan George started their shop in a small space on Parrish Street, they had no clue that their plant shop would become THE place to see in Durham. From people wanting to go there and take photographs, or just to be able to post and say that they finally got to check it out, Zen Succulent quickly became a popular location and taught us all how to care for plants like children. Now, they have opened a second location in Downtown Raleigh AND have recently moved to a bigger Downtown Durham space due to their large success. From unique succulents to a build your own terrarium station, there is so much beauty to see and experience. They strive to bring fresh air and brightness into locals lives and if you haven’t visited their shop yet, it is a must.

 

4. Chet Miller

Photo by: Walter Magazine

118 West Parrish St

Welcome to the coolest store ever. Filled with local goods and other independently makers, Chet Miller has a variety of elevated goods for everyday life and also cards and books that will make you laugh your butt off. Chet Miller is the perfect locally owned shop to find a gift for someone who has everything, but then will also make you want to buy many pretty little things for yourself. For example, last time I visited Chet Miller, I left with a hilarious book about Kim Kardashian for a friend just because it was one of those random gifts that you would never buy for yourself, but instantly love it. Then, I also left with a blanket that was so soft I couldn’t leave without it.

From paper products to cookbooks to beautiful office supplies, Chet Miller is filled with things that spark joy. If you want some gifts that have some personality to them, this needs to be your next visit.

 

5. Bungalow

339 W. Main St

Located in the heart of Five Points, Bungalow features eclectic home decor, handcrafted stoneware, fine French linens, hand-forged pewter from Italy, local woodcraft, local folk art, Portuguese soaps, local all-natural skincare and bath products, silk pillows from Turkey, North Carolina crafted leather, and fine stationery. When it comes down to it, Bungalow is a beautiful space filled with unique finds to add to your home. From kitchen to bed linens, if you want to furnish your living space with more than the basic Bed, Bath, and Beyond, switch to Bungalow.

 

Thank you all for joining us at Urban MJ! We hope to continue to serve as an educator of urban development, economic growth, and the best of the best local goods and services! Follow us along to stay in the know of upcoming Triangle news and industry updates!