Out and About

Durham restaurant reopening months after gas explosion

Saint James Seafood will reopen Thursday, months after a gas explosion in downtown Durham.

Posted Updated

Jessica Patrick
, WRAL digital journalist
DURHAM, N.C. — Nine months after a fatal explosion forced a Durham restaurant to close its doors, it will finally open once again Tuesday in a special soft-opening to honor first responders who saved lives that day. During the gas leak and fires, tirelessly working crews managed to prevent the the fire from reaching Saint James Seafood.

The restaurant is expecting over 100 guests.

Saint James Seafood has also been counting down to the date they officially re-open to the public: Thursday, Jan. 23.
Guests can make reservations by calling 984.219.7900 starting Wednesday, or by visiting Open Table.

Remembering the explosion's impact on the community

The April 10 gas leak and explosion shook the Durham community. Kong Lee, the owner of Kaffeinate, a coffee shop located on the bottom level of the building where the gas leak occurred, was inside and died when the building exploded at 10:07 a.m.

The building was a total loss, and more than a dozen surrounding buildings, including Saint James, were also impacted.

In December, owner Matt Kelly told WRAL News they were getting close to reopening, with only a few cosmetic upgrades left. The process, he said, was lengthy.

"The lights that are hanging from the ceiling, they’re globes," he said. "When the explosion happened, they all burst. We didn't have electricity. We didn't have gas."

On Aug. 9, the Durham Fire Department released a report that ruled the explosion an accident and identified Optic Cable Technology as the company that punctured a 3/4-inch gas line while drilling to install underground cables. Two people -- Kong and Jay Rambeaut, a PSNC worker who responded to the gas leak, died.


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