It’s the latest food and beverage fatality of the pandemic.
Criterion owners announced on Instagram Tuesday that the bar, a working-class staple in the Five Points district, is closing its doors for good.
The Criterion—with its well-appointed, dark-paneled walls and cast of memorable characters working behind the bar—was the go-to watering hole for many of the city’s blue and white-collar workers.
It was a spot where the bartenders didn’t mind pouring an extra shot in the glasses of regulars who tipped well, in a cool, no-frills, dimly-lit atmosphere that was definitely all grown-up and sexy.
“To me, it was always how an old school bar should look,” one of the owners said in the Instagram announcement.
Before this damn pandemic, the Criterion’s latest claim to fame was the night comedian Dave Chappelle and his entourage showed up for drinks after a series of stand-up performances at the Carolina Theatre.
And really, if one of America’s most celebrated comedian wanted to get a taste of downtown Durham at its night-life best, where else would he go?
(The place nearly tilted sideways each time Chappelle would step outside to light up a cigarette.)
Some nights, the Criterion owners would open up its equally beautiful second-floor, where its customers could smoke cigars, drink good liquor, and take in a burlesque show.
It was a place where the city’s hardest-hit residents could get a sympathetic ear (and spare change) whenever they pulled out their violins and began reciting their stories.
The Criterion held court downtown for 11 years.
“I hope whoever is lucky enough to get behind that beautiful 100-year-old bar enjoys it as much as we did,” the owner said on Instagram. “Cheers.”
Follow Durham Staff Writer Thomasi McDonald on Twitter or send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org.
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