Aug 18, 2022 - News

In one day, the Triangle loses two beloved restaurants

St. James Seafood storefront in Durham
St. James Seafood. Photo: Zachery Eanes/Axios

Two of the Triangle's most acclaimed restaurants are shutting down, with Raleigh's Garland and Durham's Saint James Seafood both announcing their closings on Instagram Wednesday.

Why it matters: Their departure will leave a hole in the Triangle's diverse food scene.

  • The closures are a reminder of the strain the pandemic has placed on restaurants, and a sign that its impact may still be lingering.
  • Max Trujillo, a host of the N.C. Food and Beverage Podcast, said the two closings "feels like a gut punch to the industry."
  • "If we're ever to break out of this restaurant slump, it's on the diners," he added.

Flashback: Garland, which serves Indian and Asian foods with a Southern flair, opened its doors in the heart of downtown Raleigh in 2013.

  • The restaurant's chef, Cheetie Kumar, has long been recognized for her cooking beyond the Triangle, earning finalist nominations for James Beard's Best Chef in the Southeast award in 2020 and 2022.

Durham's prolific chef Matt Kelly opened Saint James in 2017, off the back of success with other Durham restaurants Mateo Tapas, Mothers & Sons and Vin Rouge.

  • But Saint James has faced huge challenges since its critically acclaimed opening. A 2019 gas explosion on its block closed the restaurant for a year, and the pandemic closed it once again shortly after reopening.

What they're saying: Kelly was not available for comment Wednesday and Kumar has not yet responded to request for comment.

  • "Needless to say, we are heartbroken for us and our community," Raleigh Mayor Mary-Ann Baldwin told Axios in a text message.
  • "Garland is a special place with special memories. Restaurants have faced so many challenges during the past two years — from staffing shortages to financial survival. So I understand. But I also hope Cheetie and Paul know how much they are loved and that we look forward to what’s next."

Details: Garland's last day of operation will be August 27.

  • St. James will remain open through the beginning of October, though they're looking for a new space.
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