Campus Volunteer Challenge–the results are in!

AMERICAN TOBACCO and the YMCA partnered for the first-ever Campus Volunteer Challenge. In just four weeks, volunteers from various campus companies dedicated a remarkable 185.5 hours of their time to benefit 15 local nonprofits.

The Challenge brought together Clorox, ATC Management, Beghou Consulting, CMG Consulting, CEP Compression, McKinney, Three Oaks, and YMCA in a friendly competition. They worked towards supporting nonprofits that serve our local community, including Durham Rescue Mission, Note in the Pocket, Interfaith Food Shuttle, Eno River Association, NCFC Youth, Food Bank of Central & Eastern NC, Alston Ridge Elementary School, Dress for Success, Urban Ministries, Pauli Murray Center, Diaper Bank, Porch – Durham, Miracle League of the Triangle, and Fresh Start Durham.

We are proud to recognize Clorox as the winner of our inaugural Campus Volunteer Challenge. Clorox led the way with the highest overall volunteer hours and engagement per employee. We applaud their commitment to community service, and appreciate the high standard Clorox sets for our next competition.

Thanks to the incredible generosity and enthusiasm of the campus community and The YMCA, the Campus Volunteer Challenge will become an annual event. Next year, it will run for two months. Through collective action and the power of giving, we are making Durham an even better place to live, work, and play.

Now Open! Ekhaya

Zweli’s Ekhaya is now open! From the celebrated Triangle chef Zweli Williams, Ekhaya which means “home” in Zulu or Ndebele, brings bold Bantu Fusion tapas to the American Tobacco Campus. This eagerly-awaited elevated dining experience serves up the bold flavors of South Africa in a warm atmosphere. Make your reservation, make yourself at home.

Building Location: Crowe Lobby/The Patio

Address: 406 Blackwell Street, Suite 100, Durham, NC 27701

For menu and reservations, click HERE

Now Open! The Waiting Room

The wait is over. The buzzy new destination craft cocktail bar is open in the American Tobacco Campus at 300 Blackwell St…Owners and operators, Nick Singh and Buddy Maynard dreamed up The Waiting Room as a go to spot to hang out while waiting for a table at any one of downtown Durham’s hot local restaurants.

The community spirit of The Waiting Room shines through, as they welcome you for any part of night out, a nod to all the wait-worthy local businesses in Durham

Located in downtown Durham’s oldest commercial building, guests will be welcomed by brick walls, a hand-built bar and cozy, bright nooks to drink, nosh and conversate. The Waiting Room is all classic vibes modernized in a warm, inclusive space.

And then, of course, there are the cocktails. Did we bury the lead? The Waiting Room aims to flip the script on pairing drinks with food, instead crafting a thoughtful menu of small plates to pair with their expansive, expressive and impressive cocktail offerings. Featuring nearly 200 selections of liquor, including those from local distillers, their cocktail menu features signature and classic drinks –an Old Bull or an Old Fashioned– and knowledgeable and attentive bartenders who will help you find just the right sip for your mood. Alcohol free? The Waiting Room also features a focused and delicious selection of creative NA options.

To compliment your cocktail or tide you over until dinner, The Waiting Room has a thoughtfully curated menu of small plates and desserts to hit the spot. From charcuterie to caviar deviled eggs to sticky date pudding and macarons, you’ll find the perfect bite to start or end your evening.

Whether you are waiting for your show, game or table, or if The Waiting Room is your main event, don’t delay (imagine if we said “wait” again) in finding drinks, food and community at this new American Tobacco Campus destination in the heart of Downtown Durham. 

Building Location: In the Old Bull Building at the corner of Pettigrew and Blackwell Street

Address: 300 Blackwell Street, Suite 100, Durham, NC 27701

American Tobacco Tenant NET Power Goes Public at $1.5B Valuation

ATC tenant NET Power’s hard work and dedication are paying off as the energy sector disruptor went public on the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE: NPWR) at a $1.5 billion valuation. 

Representative of the best of Bullspeed innovation, NET Power’s “proven technology generates near zero-emissions utility-scale power, delivering the world’s first scalable solution that achieves the energy trifecta: clean, reliable, low-cost power.”

A true game changer that could lead to a greener energy future, NET Power has long incubated its technology in the Crowe Building before reaching this milestone of any successful business. 

In a press release announcing the public offering, incoming CEO Danny Rice said, “Today, around 60% of global power generation comes from coal and natural gas-fired power plants that produce reliable and low-cost power. However, these plants collectively emit nearly 14 billion tonnes of CO2 per year, accounting for approximately 37% of total global emissions. By replacing these plants with NET Power’s proven technology, we can eliminate nearly 100% of these emissions while providing reliable and low-cost power that people deserve. I’m excited to help NET Power deliver the energy trifecta and become the global leader in clean power generation.”

You can find out more about NET Power and its technology HERE.

Kate’s Korner to open in Winter 2023

Kate’s Korner provides licensed full-day childcare and wrap-around services for school-age students that features an innovation lab that includes a maker space. “The Durham community has expressed the need for more convenient and dependable childcare solutions,” says Goodwin.  “Kate’s Korner is answering that call with our unique approach that creates a just and equitable experience for our children, their families and our educators.”

Kate’s Korner is an early learning/childcare center and after-school program for children ages six-weeks through 12 years old. Launched by Kezia “Kate” Goodwin brings an essential service to the working families in Downtown Durham, many of whom have been forced to find care for their children outside of the city center leading to longer commutes and reduced productivity.

QueenBurger – Now Open!

QueenBurger generated a cult following for its progressive pop-up burger bar when it opened in July 2020 as a pandemic “pivot” to the temporarily closed Kingfisher Cocktail Bar. INDY WEEK recognized QueenBurger as the “Best New Restaurant” in Durham, and EATER heralded it a “favorite”.

At ATC, QueenBurger fans will recognize their signature concise menu of double-patty “smash burgers” – made of local grass-fed Baldwin Beef, griddled onions, NC Hoop Cheddar Cheese, Special Sauce, and pickles, as well as the Carolina Burger with slaw and the sought-after beet-rich Veggie and Vegan burgers – all seared to perfection on a flattop grill, visible to guests. Shoestring fries – plain and “hot” – will be new to the line-up. Finish with artisan ice cream sandwiches from Rose’s Noodles, Dumplings, and Sweets.

Pair it all with a drink from nationally renowned mixologist and co-owner Sean Umstead who has designed a selection of original cocktails to complement the burger menu.

Co-owner Michelle Vanderwalker – the designer behind the QueenBurger and the duo’s other forward-looking brands – is responsible for the “all are welcome” aesthetic in the 1849-square-foot space with a 15-foot cocktail bar and a mix of high and low tables and booths. 

Fans of the original QueenBurger popup will recognize the colorful murals. In Spring 2023, the front street-facing floor-to-ceiling windows will be converted into foldable windows to recreate the open-air setting evocative of the initial pop-up, decked with astroturf and picnic tables. 

QueenBurger is located at 359 Blackwell St. in Diamond View III (directly adjacent to the Durham Bulls Athletic Park). Follow @EatQueenBurger and visit from 11am-8pm Monday through Saturday.

Five Star to Expand Footprint to Durham with Unique Take on Modern Chinese Food

Opening in spring 2022 in the space formerly occupied by Cuban Revolution in the Strickland Building, Five Star’s new restaurant will have one of the most enviable patios in the Bull City as it sits directly adjacent to the iconic Lucky Strike Water Tower.

“Five Star has always been–more than anything else–a gathering space for good friends and family to have a delicious meal, a few drinks, and a lively evening in a unique and inviting setting,” says Michelle Bender, co-owner, Five Star. “As we looked to expand to the culinary capital that is Durham, we knew we wanted to find a home that would build on that spirit of connectivity and cheer that accompanies a great meal. American Tobacco Campus met all of those needs and more.”

Bender and team plan to offer a very similar menu of what they call “modern Chinese food with a twist” that is offered in their recently relocated original restaurant in Downtown Raleigh’s Glenwood South neighborhood. They will also offer an extensive cocktail program and a redesign of the restaurant space to be both inviting and exciting.

While the exact hours of operation are still in flux and will be finalized closer to opening, Bender and team will open for lunch daily as well as a full menu dinner and even offer a condensed menu designed for post-DPAC patrons.

You can take a look at Five Star’s menu on their website and follow them on Facebook or Instagram where they will offer more details about their opening in mid-December 2022.

NOW OPEN – December 14, 2022

Five Star Durham @ ATC – Now Open for Online Ordering and Takeout Only Until January


Five Star Durham@ ATC is located at 318 Blackwell Street in the Reed Building. The front door is adjacent to the Water Tower Stage.

Hours of Operation

The operating hours will be Monday – Saturday 12:00 PM to 8:00 PM. 

Five Star Durham @ ATC will offer a Lunch (Grab and Go Menu) 12:00 PM – 3:30 PM and a Dinner (To-Go Menu) 4:00 PM – 7:45 PM.  Five Star is only open for takeout orders at this time.

The Five Star Durham Bar will be open for drinks and certain appetizers from 4:00 PM – 8:00 PM.


Click HERE to order Online with Toast TakeOut.

Zweli’s Ekhaya Coming to American Tobacco Campus in Early 2023!

Zweli’s Ekhaya, the new concept from Zimbabwe-born Chef Zweli Williams, will completely transform the space formerly occupied by Saladelia in the Crowe Lobby. What was previously a fast, casual coffee and pre-made lunch kiosk-plus, will become an enclosed and stylized high-end tapas restaurant focused on Bantu-fusion, a mix of flavors and delicacies from the Bantu indigenous ethnicities from across Africa.

“Ekhaya in Bantu is more than a word, it is a feeling, a sense of being ‘at home’ wherever you are,” says Chef Zweli Williams.”These feelings of comfort, support, and familiarity are what we strive to bring to each diner via our menu and dining experience. Whether it is something brand new or a new take on something familiar, we want each and every visitor to leave our restaurant feeling as if they have returned home.”

Chef Zweli, along with husband and partner Leonardo “Leo” Williams, opened the nation’s first Zimbabwe restaurant in 2018 (Zweli’s Piri Piri) and the crowds and accolades quickly followed.

From best new restaurant to best chef to best chicken wings to best restaurant for vegans/vegetarians, diners have found a delicious and novel menu served alongside a demonstrable commitment to community.

For Zweli and Leo, food is only the beginning of their commitment to “Ekhaya.” While Zweli’s journey started thousands of miles from Durham, Leo attended NC Central where he served as the Head Drum Major for their prestigious marching band. After college, Leo became a Durham Public Schools teacher and administrator earning the honor of “Teacher of the Year.” He is a mentor to young men of color in the community and a candidate for Durham City Council.

Zweli’s interest in food grew as a young child in Bulawayo, Zimbabwe where she learned to make unique, creative dishes from the ingredients available. Upon graduating from high school, she emigrated to the US and attended NC Central where she met Leo. After graduating, Zweli entered the restaurant industry managing several restaurants while retaining her commitment to cooking and her roots in African Bantu cuisine. After attempting to find a restaurant that served these dishes, she and Leo decided to create the nation’s first Zimbabwean restaurant.

For the couple who also have a 10th grader at home, the COVID-19 pandemic presented an opportunity to support their community. Rather than focus on the hardship of operating a restaurant in a pandemic, Zweli and Leo worked with other locally-owned small business owners to raise more than $3 million to create a small business fund to prevent the closure of small locally-owned businesses in Durham. They coordinated nearly 100,000 meals pre-pandemic and post-pandemic to serve the displaced, elderly, and the homeless.

“We’ve had the very fortunate opportunity to work with dozens and dozens of restaurateurs and thousands of entrepreneurs at the American Tobacco Campus and American Underground,” says Adam Klein, director, American Tobacco Campus. “Zweli and Leo represent the best of Durham. They are creative, committed, caring, and, most importantly, community-focused. We’re honored that they chose to share their journey with us and take part in ours.”

Zweli and Leo will return to Zimbabwe this December to further hone and add to the Ekhaya concept. The restaurant will open early 2023 with a complete redesign of the Crowe Lobby space and patio with lots of exciting offerings to be announced.

You can learn more about Zweli’s and stay updated on the restaurant by visiting their website, following them on Instagram and Facebook.

Louisiana-inspired Restaurant and Bar From Famed Brother Duo Behind Nanasteak to Open in 2023

Just in time for the holidays and New Year, American Tobacco is unveiling one more reason to celebrate and look forward to 2023. Opening in mid-2023, Seraphine, a Louisiana-inspired restaurant and bar from Brad and Graham Weddington, will complete the historic campus’ makeover of its dining options over the past year.

The brother’s duo behind beloved Nanasteak–also on the American Tobacco Campus–are bringing their familial roots in the famed Louisiana culinary scene to this new concept which will take over the remaining portion of the former Tyler’s Taproom space shared with Parker & Otis. Seraphine will be a completely separate restaurant encompassing what was formerly the back bar and side patio of the Taproom.

As described by the Weddingtons, Seraphine will have an ambiance:

“Find yourself transported into a time and place when things move a bit slower, friends linger a bit longer and share a bite and a dram among them. Seraphine will be an exploration of family heritage born in Louisiana, as seen through staple dishes made modern, and barrel-aged whisky transformed into classic and eclectic cocktails. Ensconced in an intimate atmosphere curated to encourage groups large and small to join together and relax.

Join us for roasted oysters in the garden before you make your way down the grand hall to have a late dinner. Check into the bar for happy hour after work, or join friends for a nightcap after the ball game.”

As has become a tradition at American Tobacco, Seraphine will take full advantage of the one-of-a-kind setting on campus and create an outdoor dining and gathering experience for their guests with a patio for casual drinks and appetizers or dining. Unique to Seraphine, their patio will serve as a gateway to the soon-to-be-developed American Tobacco expansion on the former University Ford site.

Seraphine joins recent 2020/2021 openings at the historic campus of a relocated Parker & Otis, the second location of creperie and cocktail pioneer Press, and Puerto Rican food truck turned fast-casual staple Boricua Soul, as well as the recent announcements of celebrated expansions from Queenburger, Zweli’s Ekhaya, and Five Star.

“These past two years have been a true inspiration for us here at the campus,” says Adam Klein, director, American Tobacco Campus. “While we’ve worked tirelessly to maintain our community, we’ve also sought out and worked with some of the greatest entrepreneurs in our region to think big and develop plans for creating a culinary renaissance focused on celebrating our region’s culinary excellence.”

Seraphine plans to open in mid-2023..

Major Mixed-Use Development coming to Downtown Durham

Capitol Broadcasting Co. and Hines in Partnership with USAA Real Estate Announce Major Mixed-Use Development in Downtown Durham

Partners will develop prime vacant site alongside the renowned American Tobacco Campus 

(DURHAM, NC) — July 28, 2020 — Capitol Broadcasting Co. (CBC), Hines, the international real estate firm, and USAA Real Estate today announced plans to develop a 600,000-700,000 square foot mixed-use destination bordering the west side of the bustling American Tobacco Campus.   

The expansion of ATC will take shape in a series of phases on the prime 11-acre downtown site previously occupied by University Ford. Plans for the dynamic mixed-use community include retail, restaurants, residences, and Class-A offices — all delivered with the thoughtfulness and high quality associated with the three partners. A website with more information about the expansion can be found here.

CBC redeveloped the American Tobacco Campus (ATC), taking it from an abandoned, century-old factory to a thriving mixed-use destination. ATC’s rebirth is credited with helping to kickstart downtown Durham’s renaissance. Additionally, CBC owns the neighboring Durham Bulls Athletic Park and has been a crucial supporter of the adjoining Durham Performing Arts Center. 

Hines and USAA are also proven developers in the Triangle area, having partnered on the highly anticipated Fenton mixed-use destination in Cary. Hines’ expertise with historically significant developments is evident in its success with Atlantic Station in Atlanta.

Phase One of ATC’s expansion is expected to unfold over eight acres with the partners eyeing a construction start in late 2020 or early 2021. In addition to bordering ATC, the new development features easy access on its south side to Highway 147, a vital Triangle artery connecting downtown Durham to the Research Triangle Park, I-40 and I-85. Just to the north is Durham’s burgeoning urban core featuring a host of amenities. 

Timber Structures

Architecturally, the ATC expansion will carefully and imaginatively fit with the historic look of the original American Tobacco campus while embracing the amenities, efficiencies, and innovations of new builds. They will also respect and play-off downtown Durham’s unique flavor.

As but one example of the expansion’s distinctiveness, the partners plan to utilize T3 timber structures throughout the project’s first phase. The timber builds will be a first-of-its-kind in the Triangle, and join only a handful of mixed-use destinations in the U.S.

Heavy timber construction goes back centuries, from churches to schools to warehouses. But the vast majority of buildings that dot modern skylines were built with steel and concrete or are  ‘stick-built,’ i.e. wooden-stud construction atop a concrete base.

A T3 structure is different — both beautiful and environmentally responsible. The airy and bright office spaces will feature manufactured wood columns and beams braced by steel and as well as a flooring system that includes thick, laminated wood beams sandwiched with a layer of concrete.