Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Durham Culinary Powerhouse Magnolia Grill to Close 5/31

In a surprise announcement, Magnolia Grill owners Ben and Karen Barker say they are closing after nearly three decades in business.  The news will shock many loyal fans and patrons.

Known for blazing a culinary trail in North Carolina, the couple are both James Beard Award winners.  The honor is considered the Oscar of the food world.

“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," said Shelly Green, Durham Convention & Visitors Bureau President and CEO.  "We promote Durham's prowess as a dining destination.  They have given us so much of the opportunity to do that."

Durham is widely known as a place with an intense food scene.  The accolades are numerous, but most recently the New York Times listed Durham as one of the Top 41 Places to Visit in the world and noted the food and dining offerings as a key reason.

Citing a desire to spend more time with friends and family, the couple will close the property on May 31.  Having written two books and being in demand within the national food community, this is likely not the last word from this duo. 

The Barker's were honored at Durham's Annual Tribute Luncheon in 2007, alongside other chefs here who helped shape Durham as a culinary destination and contributed to it's unique sense of place.  "We can't thank them enough for that," Green added.  Dare we say that tens of thousands of diners would say the same.


  1. Magnolia Grill has been a wondrous culinary escape from the stresses of the every day rat race. Thank you, Barkers, for making it happen. Good luck to you in the rest of your lives! :-)

  2. Incredibly sad. I feel so lucky to have tasted their twice-baked grits souffle -- perhaps the best dish I have ever eaten in my entire life.