Parker and Otis reopens after fire

Feb. 08, 2013 @ 01:33 PM

Some of the regular customers were enthusiastic about Thursday’s re-opening of Parker and Otis, the downtown restaurant and shop that closed temporarily in December following a fire.

The fire at the 112 S. Duke St. business was determined to have been caused accidentally. A Durham fire official said it was caused by a ceiling light fixture.

Parker and Otis employee Erica Murray said all off the business’ workers returned except for one, who had a family emergency. The shop and restaurant’s employee roster hovers around 30 to 35 people, she said.

Murray said the business had a “pretty good breakfast” on its first day back on Thursday, but she said around lunchtime that traffic was a little bit less than normal.

The business appeared busy with customers ordering food and coffee about noon, and others already were seated and eating. But Murray said that on a Thursday at lunch, she said she’s seen a line snaking lines around the cases.

She said she expects to see traffic pick up again as employees at other businesses realize the restaurant is open again.

Cary resident Melissa Raasch, who works in downtown Durham, stopped at Parker and Otis for an egg salad sandwich for lunch Thursday. Pausing from browsing candy and other items for sale, she said it looked like the shop never closed.

“I think it looks great, to me, it doesn’t look that different,” she said.

The fire was contained to a relatively small display area, according to a news release from the business, but smoke and water damage required repairs and remodeling in the 8,000-squrae-foot space.

The news release said changes include a new coffee bar and service area, and a redesigned retail floor plan for the display of specialty food, wine, housewares, gifts, cookbooks and other items.

Durham residents Joe Philipose and Donna Shoplock said they’re Parker and Otis regulars. Philipose said they were “lost without it,” and Shopllock said they were anxiously awaiting its return.

Philipose said they come regularly to shop for meals, to get coffee and to shop. On Thursday, he was set up with a laptop. He said he felt the shop had more “modern and clean lines” and was more appealing.

Raleigh resident Morgan Pope said she works down the street from Parker and Otis. She said she walked to the restaurant and shop with a co-worker on Thursday and planned to stay and read with a hazelnut latte.

“I missed it while it was gone,” Pope said. “There’s really nowhere else in Durham quite like Parker and Otis.”