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H-S: Tobacco Road Sports Cafe to open downtown Durham location, while Eno delayed

The Herald-Sun's Monica Chen has a nice scoop in today's paper, reporting that the owners of the Tobacco Road Sports Cafe in the Glenwood South district of Raleigh are set to open their second restaurant in American Tobacco's Diamond View II building.

The almost 14,000 sq. ft. of restaurant space will consist of an indoor/outdoor space spilling from the James Scott Farrin-anchored office tower onto the patio overlooking the Blue Monster and Durham Bulls Athletic Park. Tobacco Road will open later this spring.

From the Herald-Sun:

Inside, the restaurant will have mock stadium seating, with a wall of television screens that can be viewed by customers seated in recliners at the base, booths at the next level and tables at the level after that. The outdoor patio will be heated and cooled, depending on the season, and in proximity to the iconic Durham Bull sign.

Brian Amra, who opened the first Tobacco Road Sports Cafe a year ago with brothers Alex and Rommie Amra, said they picked American Tobacco because it was a perfect fit, as the traffic and fan enthusiasm for the Bulls will feed traffic to the restaurant. The original location is on Glenwood Avenue in Raleigh.

“It’s going to be 12 months of straight business there,” Amra said, “and it’s such a beautiful property.”

Curious readers can find out more about the Raleigh location from the hotly-commented thread over at the terrific New Raleigh blog -- a post which, dear readers, makes me thankful for all of you, and the general level of discourse here -- and over at Yelp, whose comments generally evoke similar feeling to those made about existing ATC outlet Tyler's.

Meanwhile, the Herald-Sun also noted this week that downtown restaurant Eno's opening has slipped again, this time to hopefully an "early spring" debut, as the restaurant has sought a new contractor.



I have been to Tobacco Road Sports Cafe and in my opinion its a solid place to watch sports and get above average bar food. My friends and I always have an issue finding a place in Durham to watch sports. I like Tyler's, but it is set up poorly for sports viewing. Tobacco Road will be a significant upgrade to Carolina Ale House. My concern is that Durham is not a sports town. I am in the minority when it comes to wanting a sports bar downtown. I would be curious to hear other thoughts on sports bars making it in Durham.

Todd p

This sounds like a great addition to downtown - I am looking forward to it. This will add to the variety of offerings building downtown.

Oh Snap! Durham

This is great, Tobacco Road is a great place to watch a crucial game - lots of energy and great views of the wall of TVs. I watched some of last year's NHL playoffs at the Raleigh location, and it was a madhouse. It will be nice to not have to drive to Raleigh (though, well, the playoffs will likely not feature the Hurricanes this year, sadly).


Haven't been to the Raleigh locale, but this sounds promising. (especially as the wife and I are weaning ourselves off the cable teat).

Note to management: Please lose the recliners. Sports watching venue is for athletic crowd, we don't need Laz-Boys, waste of money and not a good use of space.

cycling and soccer coverage in addition to football and hoops would be swell.

I think a well-run sports bar can make it downtown, and if they have any cajones they'll make the patio non-smoking.


This is good for the area, unlike raleigh and charlotte, we definitely don't have a problem of too many sports bars.

I agree with the posters above me in hoping that they don't exclusively show the big 3 american sports. Having things like soccer, mma, cycling, rugby, etc. will generate crowds and actually make it a destination. You can watch an NFL game anywhere, but how many places show FA cup matches?


I think this is an great addition to downtown and a awesome location. I believe there is a strong demand for more variety in sports bars in Durham even more so in the downtown area (love sats though).

It will be a great location to watch the hometown blue devils beat up on the tarheels.


After looking at the website, I'm beginning to think this looks, er, very Raleigh-like and not very Durham-like.


Durham definitely needs more sports bar options, I hope this place isn't another Carolina Ale House.


Please remember who the market is for this place. A cursory glance at the fans at one of the Bulls games, and you might detect several Raleigh/Cary-ites who are more than happy with Carolina Ale House over Devine's or Satisfactions. A modern and clean sports bar that knows who their customer base is, knows how to turn a profit, and could care less about what you want in Durham, or your version of what's cool and interesting.

Not everyone with money to spend wants to walk through downtown Durham after a game or a night at the DPAC. For me, it's about time a more white-collar sports bar showed up around the area that will help keep and draw in more outsiders from Raleigh and Cary, rather than some other small and gritty urban re-use project in a dark corner of town that most Bulls attendees are not interested in.

I agree with GreenLatern?

Preach on, GreenLatern man!


yeah, I have to say I agree with GL. As i've said with some other ventures that may not particularly be my personal taste--it takes all kinds. and the only way Durham is ever going to pull itself out of a shadow of opressive baggage is by keeping the lifeblood pumping in. and the city's immune system needs to be diversified.


@GreenLantern - what in the world are you talking about? So let's create something just like Raleigh so people from Raleigh will be comfortable coming to Durham and grabbing a tasteless burger before/after a Bulls game?!?!?!
Hell why not make it an ESPN Zone restaurant then.

I might be more inclined to feel that way too IF we'd passed the Prepared Food Tax.

I'm indifferent about this place - I like the name but the photo on their site of the recliners lined up in front of flat panel TV's, like pigs at an electronic trough, is a bit disconcerting.

But if that's what people want - God bless 'em. I don't begrudge CBC a tenant by any means.


"@GreenLantern - what in the world are you talking about? So let's create something just like Raleigh so people from Raleigh will be comfortable coming to Durham and grabbing a tasteless burger before/after a Bulls game?!?!?!"

If TR is like Carolina Ale, then yes, that's what I am talking about. Outside the DBAP Safe Zone, Durham is still a little too scary for some of my more conservative, provincial co-workers who might take in a Bulls game once in a while. They love Carolina Ale Houses like the one at the Brier Creek Safe Zone. I get tired of trying to convince some of these folks it's okay to try the unique offerings in Durham. A lot of sports fans at the DBAP just want some cold beer, hot wings, a comfortable chair, and big screen TVs, and maybe dis Obama during the commercials. It might be nice to keep them at the ballpark instead of going back to their own generic neighborhood bar & grille in Apex.

We're planning an Apollo 10 pub crawl through downtown Durham next year just to go somewhere else than Glenwood South. Maybe it will help change some perceptions and spread the word.

I too wish the Prepared Food Tax would have passed, but it was poorly marketed to the voters who couldn't figure out where the funds were going to be spent. Sales taxes, tips, and anything helping business and employment in Durham generated by visitors from the other counties who don't always look, comment, and vote like us are all welcome. There are a lot of places at New Hope Commons that have no interest from me, but sure draw in a lot of sales taxes and business from Orange county.

Todd P

@Will - What's so bad about ESPN Zone? I would love to see them in Durham. That's another thing Durham would have that Raleigh doesn't.

GL is right that Durham needs variety. That includes a place you can feel safe taking the kids.


I'm trying to think of any place within walking distance of the ballpark, downtown, or Brightleaf that I would be concerned about taking my daughter.

Nope. Can't come up with one.

Durham isn't for everyone.


@Todd - I suppose there's nothing wrong w/ an ESPN Zone as long as it's in the right location - like Time Square or Myrtle Beach or Southpoint (haha) but Not In My Downtown does that make me a NIMD? Doesn't have quite the same ring as NIMBY though technically downtown is sorta in my backyard. Or as Palin might say, "I can see it from my house." :)

My point is that Durham isn't for everyone. Nor is Raleigh or Cary or Clayton for that matter. If we try to build something everyone will like - no one will end up liking it. What I don't mind about Tobacco Road is that it's a compromise from an ESPN Zone - or our regional take on it.

What I don't like about Green Lantern's perspective is that keeping out-of-towners within a one block radius of the Ball Park and Tobacco Road and quickly getting back on 147 to head home is kind of like saying "We know what you think about Durham so here we built this block for you - would you like fries with that?"

Brian Amra, Tobacco Road

From the owners of Tobacco Road:
Thank you to everyone for the positive comments and warm welcome to Durham! Also, thank you to those that are also a little wary about our new Tobacco Road Sports Cafe location. ALL of your comments and feedback will help us improve and grow. Feel free to email us at management@tobaccoroadsportscafe.com with any additional feedback. I can assure you that we aren't trying to recreate our Raleigh location in Durham or cater to the crowd that visits American Tobacco from the surrounding areas. We are very well aware that Durham has a unique culture and we look forward to adding to it (and definitely not detracting from what the Durham locals love about the area).


Bravo for your comment, owners of Tobacco Road. It sounds like you know what you're doing.


Looking forward to this....


I just read over these comments for the first time after reading Kevin's new post about the opening.
Unfortunately I no longer live in Durham, but I for one am excited about this restaurant and think it will be a nice addition to downtown. For the most part I agree with Greenlantern and I think this place will fit in with downtown, and I think the more people stay in downtown after games the better.

I do have to say about Will's comment
"...recliners lined up in front of flat panel TV's, like pigs at an electronic trough" is one of the funniest things I have read in a long time ;)


A great addition to downtown right there.....

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