Javon Gaters and Marcus Morrow in front of Chibanga’s Neighborhood Market (left to right). Photo by Lena Geller.

At Chibanga’s Neighborhood Market, now open on Mangum Street in downtown Durham, you can get a vape, a bag of Takis, a pregnancy test, and a case of White Claws.

You can also get everything you need to cook—among other meals—a lovely, locally-sourced steak frites dinner: ribeyes from Mats Meats; garlic and potatoes from Walker Farm; even a jar of duck fat, which Chibanga’s stocks as a nod to the famous duck fat fries at Bull City Burger & Brewery.

According to Marcus Morrow, who launched Chibanga’s in July with business partner Javon Gaters, the market aims to provide surrounding residents with basic staples while also spotlighting products from local businesses in efforts to give neighborhood newcomers a “taste of Durham.” The neighborhood, though dotted with hip bars and restaurants, has long been a food desert, Morrow says (the closest spots to grab pantry items are Bulldega on West Parrish and Save a Lot on Liberty Street.)

“If you just moved here,” Morrow says, gesturing to a row of luxury townhomes on Mangum Street, “you might not know about Mad Popper or Pincho Loco. When you come to Chibanga’s, you can get a sense of what the city has to offer.”

Morrow and Gaters live on the same street, a few blocks away from Chibanga’s. They met a number of years ago at West End Billiards. At the time, Morrow was working at the Environmental Protection Agency and Gaters was working as a bar manager at West End.

When the pandemic hit, Gaters left the service industry and started investing in real estate. Morrow decided he wanted to pursue his dream of opening a community-oriented business in Durham. Partnering on a bodega concept—something Morrow and Gaters had long felt their neighborhood needed—was a no-brainer.

“If you live over here, and you’re walking into downtown, there was no place to get a bottle of water or a six-pack of beer,” Morrow says. 

Beyond its selection of snacks, meats, produce, drinks and basic supplies, Chibanga’s also sells beverages—beer, wine, and mimosas—that patrons can either take to-go, social district style, or sip on the market’s outdoor patio, which it shares with neighboring coffee shop EverLou.

The market’s namesake is Ricardo Chibanga, a bullfighter from Mozambique. 

“Everything in town is named ‘Bull-something,’” Morrow says. “We really didn’t want to do that. So we started looking up bullfighters. To be honest with you, we had no idea that Black bull fighters existed. When we found out about Chibanga, it was perfect.”

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