Historic Restaurants Subject of New Exhibit

Museum of Durham History Launches Dining Out in Durham May 6th with Public Event


Did you know that besides the “Bull City” and “City of Medicine,” Durham has also been called the “Tastiest Town in the South” and “America’s Foodiest Small Town?” The Museum of Durham History explores the story of Durham’s restaurants and how community members have come together at the table in Dining Out in Durham. Opening May 6th at 6PM with a free public reception at the Museum (500 W. Main St.), this exhibit explores Durham’s traditional southern cuisine as well as its international flavors.

Nibble on hors d’oeuvres from Bleu Olive, Parker & Otis, Saltbox, Toast and Ninth Street Bakery while enjoying live music, and remarks from Chris Holaday, co-author of Classic Restaurants of Durham. For those 21+ we will also feature local wine and cider from Killer Queen Wine Bar and LouElla Wine, Beer and Beverage

One of the major areas of focus of the exhibit is the different experiences of Black and White patrons of restaurants throughout the mid-twentieth century at the height of segregation. The exhibit also highlights how immigrants have brought new flavors and food traditions to Durham while navigating its unique culture and Southern tastes.

Following the Museum’s mission to share our community’s diverse perspectives, the exhibit will feature oral histories from many long-time residents who have been part of Durham’s changing restaurant culture. The community is encouraged to share memories through the Story Kiosks in the Museum’s Story Room.

As a unique companion to this exhibit, the Museum is partnering with local restaurants to host a monthly dining series that will connect to the historic restaurants and themes featured in the new exhibit. The series rotates to restaurants throughout Durham and will feature different types of cuisine and put the spotlight on the ambiance and culture of each restaurant. Guest speakers at each event will discuss the history of Durham restaurants, as well as topics and stories which inspired the exhibit, from BBQ to integration to international influence.

The series kicks off in May at Zweli’s, then to Parizade in June, Copa for July, Geer St. Garden in August, JuJu in September, and closing out at Vin Rouge in October. Diners will be asked to pre-register and purchase tickets for their culinary adventure. Stay tuned for exact dates, details, and ticket information.

The dining series, sponsored by the Forest at Duke and moss+ross, is designed to support and promote local restaurants after the difficulties faced through the pandemic, as well as provide deeper context and understanding of the themes within the exhibit.

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