Firefighters extinguished fire at Namu restaurant in Durham


Durham firefighters put out a blaze early Tuesday morning at Korean restaurant Namu in Straw Valley.

Durham Fire Department

A nighttime fire threatened to destroy one of the Triangle’s most picturesque restaurants.

Just after 2 a.m. on Tuesday, Durham firefighters responded to a call at Korean restaurant Namu in Durham, just off Durham-Chapel Hill Boulevard. Smoke billowed from a warehouse near the restaurant’s bamboo garden.

Officials from the Durham Fire Department said 38 firefighters responded and part of the building’s roof was removed to put out the blaze. No one was in the burnt building at the time of the fire.

Namu co-owner Joe Choi said he learned of the restaurant fire around 4 a.m. when someone called him. Choi said the restaurant and historic campus appeared to have avoided ruin.

“It could have been terrible,” Choi said. “It looks bad, half the building burned down and we’re lucky it hasn’t spread anywhere else.” It could have been a lot worse – we are surrounded by woods here. “

Namu is the last occupant of the Straw Valley complex near New Hope Commons. The campus is a former artist’s studio and has been a fine dining restaurant and various retail stores. Namu’s cafe, restaurant and brewery have controlled much of the land for a few years, including an outdoor garden surrounded by bamboo.

The building that burned down was mainly used for restaurant storage, Choi said, and had been a spa in a previous life.

Choi said the fire was still under investigation and security cameras were being retrieved, but allegedly started in the heating and cooling system. The service to Namu will not be interrupted, Choi said.

“We are all very grateful,” Choi said.

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Drew Jackson writes about dining and dining for The News & Observer and The Herald-Sun, covering the Triangle and North Carolina food scene.

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