From a tiny Durham storefront, Sister Liu’s Kitchen has become a dumpling phenomenon.
Now the dumpling shop is expanding, adding a second location and a new food truck.
Owned by chef Cuiying Liu Blythe and her husband, John Blythe, the restaurant announced this week it will open a new shop in Morrisville, moving into the former Buns Barn near the Research Triangle Park. The new location will open next month.
Sister Liu’s opened in 2018 in Durham’s Straw Valley shopping center, serving up handmade dumplings and Chinese hamburgers out of a slim to-go storefront. Quickly the unassuming spot became one of the Triangle’s most popular destinations for dumpling lovers.
Last year, the legend grew even more, as Bon Appetit named Sister Liu’s one of the 50 best new restaurants in the nation.
The couple have been looking to expand for some time, John Blythe said, searching for an empty restaurant space to take over. He said after building the original location, they looked for something more turnkey.
Blythe said the new location will be open within a couple of weeks, by mid-November. The menu will be identical to the Durham location, serving a half-dozen varieties of Chinese hamburgers, plus the main attraction, a vast menu of dumpling options, either steamed 10 per order or frozen by the pound to take home.
“The dumplings are definitely number one,” Blythe said of what’s been driving the restaurant’s rapid success. “But the Chinese hamburgers are really good too.”
In looking for a second location, Blythe said they set their sights eastward, aiming to cut down on the drive some customers made from Cary for dumplings.
With Sister Liu’s founded as a mostly to-go operation, it didn’t have to pivot much to respond to the COVID-19 pandemic. The restaurant closed for two months, Blythe said, as they worked out new operations. There’s now a kiosk outside the shop where customers can place orders, or they can order online. When it’s ready, workers leave the orders in one of several coolers to stay warm.
“People seem to like it because we made it contactless,” Blythe said.
Soon, there will also be a Sister Liu’s food truck. Blythe said the truck has been built and it’s kitchen installed, but that it’s just waiting on its wrap to arrive before it gets on the road.
“We’re ready to go,” he said.