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Nov 28, 2007 10:49 AM

Starlu in Durham closing

Just got an e-mail from Restaurant Starlu that they are closing and that their last day of operation is December 22nd.

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  1. Well, that's too bad. They made some nice food. But I was surprised they held on this long in that strange location.

    2 Replies
    1. re: dubedo

      Indeed, the location was a strange one. Especially the fact that it looked like a converted office or showroom. They did put out some relatively interesting food.

      1. re: dubedo

        The last time we went (maybe 6 months ago?) the place was basically empty at dinner and the food was pretty hit or miss. But the location has to be what really killed them.

      2. Never tried it as the menu never looked very interesting to me, but I don't get why people don't like the location. Maybe it just seems convenient to me because it's near my neighborhood, but this is a pretty busy part of town--with well-visited places like Target and the other big stores in that area, and a fairly well-to-do demographic in the Hope Valley area. With the new University Marketplace ( that they have planned for the complex that houses Sitar, this area could really become perfect for a place like Starlu.

        4 Replies
        1. re: statolith

          I'm fairly close to Starlu and went a few times early on. I don't think it's the location - although it's not great. If a place is truly fantastic, it can survive any location. I figured if I'm going to spend that amount of money I'd like food that wows me a bit more at a place with a better vibe.

          1. re: statolith

            University marketplace would be a great location for Whole Foods to relocate. Their current Durham store is in need of larger space, especially with the Chapel Hill store about to undergo a major expansion.

            1. re: statolith

              Re: the location. I don't think it is so much where in Durham it is so much as the fact that it is hidden away in the back of an anonymous looking building.

              1. re: LulusMom

                Yeah, that makes sense. But it had that neat "Restaurant * Starlu" sign on the front of the building that I always admired when it was lit up at night. It's a shame to see it go, it always looked classy when I'd drive past there. I wonder if they're selling the sign? I'd buy the star!

            2. I checked out the website ( and I just wanted to comment that the owner's message -- possibly the same as in the e-mail -- certainly is gracious and appreciative.

              1. I can't say I'm surprised. Each time I went to starlu I had to endure slow service (with an empty dining room to boot), mediocre, cold food, and because of their open kitchen, I had to deal with hearing the chef/owner berate the staff loudly and cruelly. I hope the chef learns from this and fixes the issues on his next try...

                1 Reply
                1. re: batdown

                  OK, basic rules of the restaurant business:

                  it sounds corny but; it's all about location, location and location.

                  One had to work their way through a busy intersection, then make an immediate turn into an office building and then navigate their way around to the back of the building.

                  What were they thinking? That the food would be good enougn to draw the masses through the gaunlet they had laid?

                2. I am really sad to see this restaurant close. I've been eating there since they opened and have had some terrific experiences. The food is really great and I think it's a lovely space. I have had a few dishes that weren't my favorite, but I think it was more a matter of my taste (there are just some ingredients that I don't like no matter how many times I try- such as mustard seed or fresh chiles) rather than a lack of skill or creativity.

                  I've usually found the service to be good and friendly - occasionally a little slow (but nothing offensive or any worse than I've experienced at other FD restaurants such as Mag Grill or Nanas or Vin Rouge). In fact, I've gotten to know some of the staff through my visits and it surprises me to hear anyone suggest that the chef is mean to them- they seem to think he's pretty great and some have been there since Starlu started.

                  Yes - it is hard to find the restaurant the first time and it's pretty well hidden so you might forget it's back there (I have and I love the place). I think that must be what did them in.

                  It really is a loss to Durham for Starlu to close. Not only because it is a restaurant that a lot of people love - but also because it's the only restaurant I know of that tries so hard to do good things for the community with fundraising. I agree that the owner's message showed a lot of class and respect for his staff and customers and I really hope he tries again sometime.