Just six months after reopening, Durham’s Saint James Seafood is preparing to shut its doors for the third—and perhaps final—time.
The restaurant’s lease at 806 Main Street has been terminated, owner Matt Kelly announced in an Instagram post Wednesday, and its last day of service will be sometime in early October.
“I am in complete awe and have deep gratitude to the Durham community for supporting our creative process . . . I wanted to say a big old thank you to everyone who has been part of our journey,” Kelly wrote.
Saint James has been through the wringer since launching in late 2017. A year and a half after it opened, the upscale eatery shut down in the wake of a massive gas explosion that killed two and devastated its block in the Brightleaf District. After rebuilding, Saint James resumed service in January 2020, only to be shuttered by the pandemic 39 days later.
Under COVID-19 restrictions, Kelly—a James Beard Award nominee who also owns Vin Rouge, Mothers & Sons Trattoria, and Mateo Bar de Tapas in Durham—ran Saint James as a takeout joint for several months in 2020, operating under the name Jimmy’s Dockside, but quickly decided that his menu of raw oysters and Calabash-style fried seafood platters wasn’t worth serving when it was packaged to-go.
The restaurant’s lease was recently terminated by Asana Partners, a Charlotte real estate firm that purchased Brightleaf Square for $39 million in 2019 and aims to revamp the mixed-use downtown hub with new restaurants, offices, and lab facilities, according to the News & Observer.
The future of the Saint James site is unclear, but the restaurant’s closure will almost surely mark the end of an era for the Main Street space, which harbored seafood institution Fishmonger’s Restaurant & Oyster Bar for more than 30 years before Saint James moved in.
That said, Saint James isn’t ready to call it quits just yet: Kelly is on the hunt for a new location, he wrote on Instagram, and hopes to stage a few pop-ups in the meantime.
“Every time there’s bad news,” Kelly wrote, “there’s some good news right around the corner.”
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