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Award-winning Durham restaurant to close

Posted May 2, 2012

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— Magnolia Grill, which has garnered national awards and put Durham on the culinary map for the nation's foodies, will close at the end of the month, the owners announced Wednesday.

Ben and Karen Barker said they want to spend more time with family, so they plan to shutter their restaurant, which they've run for more than 25 years, on May 31.

“This is sad news for Durham. Ben and Karen are two of the reasons Durham has a food scene. They trained many, many chefs in their restaurants who went on to open their own establishments," Shelly Green, president and chief executive of the Durham Convention & Visitors Bureau, said in a statement. "We promote Durham's prowess as a dining destination. They have given us so much of the opportunity to do that."

Ben Barker won a James Beard award, considered the Oscar of the culinary world, in 2000 as the top chef in the Southeast, and Karen Barker was named the nation's top pastry chef by the James Beard Foundation three years later.

They were the only James Beard winners in North Carolina until Andrea Reusing of Lantern in Chapel Hill was named the Southeast's top chef last year.

This year, Magnolia Grill was matched up with eateries from dining destination cities like New York City, San Francisco and New Orleans in the Outstanding Restaurant category in the James Beard awards.

Many chefs have trained at Magnolia Grill and gone on to open their own restaurants in the Triangle. The Barkers have been very supportive of those endeavors and other chefs.


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  • nucdnsuct May 2, 2012

    By far the best restarant in the area. Going to be sorely missed.

  • dryjr May 2, 2012

    Wish them well,left a great legacy

  • LovemyPirates May 2, 2012

    Sad news. Great food and great people.

  • piene2 May 2, 2012

    I'm planning on making a trip to Durham to eat there one last time.

  • umjustsayin May 2, 2012

    sad for us, good for them- I wish them well!

    Thanks for a great restaurant!

  • thewayitis May 2, 2012

    Oh, this is so sad. I wish that someone on their staff would take it over.

  • babbleon May 2, 2012

    dang - I lived near there off and on for 6 years and never did eat there.

  • JustOneGodLessThanU May 2, 2012

    Maybe one of the "many, many chefs" who they trained will pick up the flag and carry it on...

  • Scubagirl May 2, 2012

    This is truly sad news, not only for the culinary world, but for durham locals who enjoy a really good meal. What a loss.

  • pulstar40 May 2, 2012

    Surprised they didn't sell it to one of their chefs.