Durham’s American Tobacco Campus has landed its latest eatery with promises of crepes, coffee and a focus on business incubation and entrepreneurship.
“The response we’ve seen in our Graham restaurant to our concept has been overwhelming,” says co-owner Cox.
The new shop will serve sweet-and-savory crepes for breakfast, lunch and dinner with a menu created by DeVries, a longtime culinary professional.
“A crepe is like a great piece of bread or even a pizza – it serves as a fantastic and tasty delivery for all sorts of different flavor profiles and ingredients,” Cox says. “Plus, we get to riff on the Carolina Made piece, taking a product that many people don’t really know and bring a mixture of both European and Southern ingredients together in unexpected and delicious ways.”
Cox first came up with the idea of starting a creperie after traveling across Europe with his wife. He had already been mulling some ideas to jumpstart a revival in downtown Graham, and after experiencing the cuisine and culture in European cafes he reached out to his business partner DeVries to talk about starting something similar in Graham.
But DeVries was not immediately taken with the idea.
Cox says Graham was a sleepy bedroom community with little if any foot traffic and no retail scene to speak of. Still, Cox says he saw potential. The downtown was originally designed to accommodate bustling traffic and foot traffic after Graham was made the county seat of Alamance, and from his office overlooking the town, Cox wanted to make the most of it.
“Press was a downtown revitalization project disguised as a restaurant,” he says.
Eventually, DeVries took his own trip to Europe, heavily sampling the crepes across the continent. He came home with his mind changed. He and Cox went to work opening the restaurant and building relationships with the business community in and around the area. Business steadily grew, and it had a noticeable impact on downtown Graham, Cox says.
“Since opening the restaurant, we’ve seen foot traffic in downtown Graham explode with new groups taking over additional storefronts and bringing this community back,” Cox says.
He says Press looks to be a welcoming “third place” where people can eat, gather and work.
In addition to the restaurant, Cox says they began a business incubator to work with local and aspiring entrepreneurs. They also opened a coworking space across from the restaurant.
Now, the partners are hoping to bring this mindset to Durham, which has seen a comeback of its own in recent years.
“Fifteen years ago, the only people who would consider investing in downtown Durham were risk takers and vision makers who saw the untapped potential in what lay before them,” says Adam Klein, strategist with American Tobacco Campus. “Like so many of the entrepreneurs who have come to Durham since its renaissance to start and grow their businesses, Jason and Brett have a clear vision for where they want to go and how they plan to get there.”