Executive chef and owner Matt Kelly plans to reopen Saint James Seafood to the dining public on Thursday, Jan. 23, after being closed for nine months due to a natural gas explosion on nearby North Duke Street. 

Kelly and his team are excited to serve customers again at the restaurant in Durham’s Brightleaf Historic District. “I’m ready. We’re ready,” said Kelly, who owns four other restaurants in Durham. “My team and I cannot wait to shuck some oysters, steam some shrimp and fry some fish for our returning and new customers.” 

Photos by Anna Routh Barzin

Saint James Seafood opened in late 2017 and earned a reputation as a “seafood lover’s paradise” with a menu that revels in North Carolina’s coastal seafood traditions and beyond but is not bound by them. The menu will continue to offer an impressive raw bar, Calabash-style fried seafood and three-tiered seafood towers. For non-seafood loving guests, there’s a New York strip steak with beurre rouge sauce and onion rings and a delicious classic burger with a special sauce. 

Photo by Anna Routh Barzin

Customer favorites will remain on the menu including the Baked Hot Crab Dip with crab roe toast and lemon; Barbecue North Carolina Shrimp made with hot sauce, butter and rosemary and served with a baguette; the Little Gem Salad topped with fried North Carolina oysters, Caesar dressing and Parmigiano cheese; and Chowder Fries or Old Bay-seasoned French fries topped with clam chowder, aged white cheddar cheese and Benton’s bacon. 

Kelly has added some new dishes, including a Deviled Crab Spaghetti that is a playful nod to the classic preparation found in East Coast seafood houses and was a crowd favorite when Kelly cooked at a recent special event at St. Roch Fine Oysters + Bar in Raleigh. Based on numerous customer requests, the menu will now feature steamed snow crab legs, salmon and a classic steamed Maine lobster entree. 

Photo by Anna Routh Barzin

Saint James Seafood, located at 806 W. Main Street, was one of several businesses closed in the aftermath of the April 10, 2019 gas explosion that took the lives of two people and injured 25. Firefighters prevented the fire from reaching Saint James Seafood, which had no structural damage. However, debris entered via the exhaust system and required extensive clean up. 

As a thank you to Durham’s first responders, the restaurant will host more than 100 during the restaurant’s Jan. 21 soft opening. The restaurant will open to the public on Jan. 23. Kelly plans to add a Sunday brunch in the coming weeks. The restaurant’s hours will be 5-10 p.m. Tuesday-Thursday, 5 p.m.-11 p.m. Friday-Saturday, and 5-9:30 p.m. Sunday. For reservations, go to saintjamesseafood.com or call 984-219-7900. 

Photos by Anna Routh Barzin

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Katelyn Belch
Author: Katelyn Belch

Founder of Best of the Bull and Shop Durham. It’s my chief goal to keep you in the know about all things Durham.