The 608 N. Mangum Street location of Saltbox Seafood Joint has been a beloved fixture of downtown Durham for almost a decade.

The contemporary fish shack boasts an unassuming, pale-green takeout front and location, just up the street from Public Hardware, but it has accrued a well-deserved following over the years, with politicians factoring chef Ricky Moore’s fried fish into campaign stops and national publications like Saveur recognizing it as a “tiny but mighty seafood shack.” At one point, Eater listed it as one of the “38 most essential Southern restaurants.

Additionally, if you’ve combed development listings for downtown Durham anytime in the past few years, you will notice that the proximity of Saltbox Seafood has frequently been a walkable homespun attraction for the many condos going in downtown, referenced as a Durham legacy and part of the “top five reasons” people are moving to the area. 

That amenity now nears the end end of an era, however, with the announcement today that Moore’s lease at the Five Points location has expired and won’t be renewed. 

“While I’m sad to say goodbye to this tiny little place that fulfilled so many dreams for me and my family, I’m proud of what we’ve accomplished in just 205 square feet,” Moore said in a press release.

A native of New Bern, Moore opened up the Mangum Street location in 2012, when, as the lone employee, he began serving up his legendary fried fish. In 2017, he opened a second location at 2637 Durham-Chapel Hill Boulevard in Rockwood, which is still open and will continue to operate. 

The downtown location is closing, but for devotees of Moore’s hush-honeys, shredded slaw, and grouper rolls, there’s still one last opportunity to pay last rites and celebrate the stand: a “final service” will be held on Sunday, August 22. Seasonal shrimp burgers will be on the menu, and you can definitely expect a line. 

“This is where it all started, and that makes it bittersweet, but our lease has ended so we are retiring the original location,” Moore said in the release. “We are thankful to still be so rooted in the Durham community! It has been exciting to be part of Durham’s growth, and we will continue to be part of Durham’s future.” 

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