Nov 20, 2023 - News

Chef Preeti Waas' takeover of the old Jack Tar Diner in Durham is complete

Cheeni took over the former Jake Tar Diner (the bar seating remains) in downtown Durham. Photo: Zachery Eanes/Axios

Acclaimed chef Preeti Waas' takeover of the former Jack Tar diner space in the heart of downtown Durham is complete.

Driving the news: In September, Waas announced that her North Raleigh restaurant Cheeni would expand to downtown Durham — though with a tweaked menu and more of a traditional dining experience.

  • The renovation of the restaurant moved quickly — thanks to an already equipped kitchen — and Cheeni opened to reservation-only diners earlier this month. (Non-reservation diners will be accepted starting next week.)
The vegetable kurma at Cheeni. Photo: Zachery Eanes/Axios

Details: The formerly sleek diner has made way for a colorful eatery, featuring the same teal paint accents and black-and-white checkerboard floor as her Raleigh cafe.

  • While the Jack Tar's bar seating remains, one corner of the room features a comfortable chair, a side table and a cup for chai like her grandmother might have used.
  • The familial homage can be felt throughout the menu, which offers brief essays on childhood memories of the dishes or their importance in the regional cuisines of Tamil Nadu (where Waas was born), Kerala and West Bengal.
  • While not yet open for service, Cheeni will eventually include a separate bar, called Bar Beej, as well as a cocktail program.

Location: 202 Corcoran St., Durham

Hours: 5pm-9pm, Monday through Tuesday and Thursday through Saturday.

  • Extended hours and Sunday brunch are expected in the future.
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