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Getting ready for the Roxy: Proprietor aims to bring Chicago glam to Brightleaf

Author’s note: This article was updated about five hours after it was first posted to provide the correct last name for Bobbi Kirkpatrick, the Satisfaction assistant general manager who is to be the Roxy’s general manager. Please see this comment for further details. 


The owner of Satisfaction is working to convert a nearby bar known for its blue-collar vibe into a club for young professionals. 

Staton Ellis, who bought Satisfaction seven years ago, recently signed a lease for the old Down Under Pub space at 802 W. Main St. He plans to open his new venture next month as soon as redecorating is complete and his alcohol sales permit is secured. 

The establishment will be a nonsmoking private club known as the Roxy. Ellis envisions a quiet lounge for young professionals to enjoy conversation, craft beers and a unique selection of fine wines. 

Because the building’s kitchen area is so small and Ellis wants to wipe away most traces of the Down Under, the only food he intends to offer at the Roxy will be prepared across the street in Satisfaction’s kitchen. Staff will deliver orders to Roxy patrons. 

“I’m real excited about it,” Ellis said. “I think it’s going to be a lot of fun. I think we’re going to offer a good product to people. This is a totally new type of venture for me — no food; I’m a restaurant guy first and foremost. These are uncharted waters for me, but I think we’ll figure it out as we go along.” 

The decor should call to mind a plush 1920s hangout for Chicago gangsters, Ellis said. He plans to institute at least a minimal dress code -- intended, it sounds, to create a professionals-only environment that would be significantly more 'exclusive' than the Roxy's predecessor. 

~ ~ ~ ~ ~

Bobbi Kirkpatrick Richardson, who has worked as an assistant general manager at Satisfaction for three years, will be the Roxy’s GM. 

“I feel like the concept of the Roxy is not something that’s been done in Durham,” she said. “We’re looking for it be a place where young professionals can come and have drinks and conversation without it being a loud — such a loud bar environment.” 


She feels that the Roxy’s being a nonsmoking establishment could set it apart from one downtown bar aimed at a higher-end clientele. 

“The cigar bar, it gets very smoky,” Kirkpatrick Richardson said. “A lot of people don’t like that. I think that’s one thing that will set us apart from Whiskey.” 

Kirkpatrick Richardson expects the Roxy to be “a little bit more laid-back atmosphere than Whiskey,” she added. 

The lounge has already begun a page on Facebook and a feed on Twitter for potential customers and fans. 

The old pub’s logo still adorns the top of the building and its front door, but Ellis plans to wipe all that away by mid-May. Ellis, whose uncle ran Bill’s BBQ of Wilson, has removed the porch benches that used to set Down Under’s mostly unremarkable front apart from every other establishment in town. 


The basic shape of the establishment will remain the same, including the bar area. Ellis intends to keep some of the fake brick paneling as well as the floor, which will be buffed and polished. The rest of the interior should look very different, from the bathrooms to the seating. 

That means no pool or foosball, although the proprietor said he’ll consider bringing in a high-end pool table sometime in the future. 

Ellis said his mother will take a hand in the redecorating. “She spent five minutes in here and had a whole lot of money spent in her mind,” he said. 

Ellis and Kirkpatrick Richardson have been working with a wine distributor to craft the Roxy’s new wine menu. (Satisfaction’s wine offerings will also be revamped.) 

“Nobody in Durham’s going to have a wine list like ours,” the general manger said. 

~ ~ ~ ~ ~

Ellis says he doesn't know why the Down Under Pub went under. Rodney Allison of Property Advisory Services, which leases the space, said in a voice-mail message that the establishment "was a great tenant for us at Brightleaf. We hate that they had to leave." 

Efforts to interview the pub's last owner, Chrystal Kelly, were unsuccessful. But public records suggest that the bar may have sought additional, possibly riskier financing before its closure. 

In August 2009, a filing with the North Carolina Secretary of State indicated that Kelly's company, Les Bontemps, had made a deal with Sterling Funding in which the Tampa, Fla., business listed Kelly's future Visa and Mastercard sales as collateral.

According to the organization's Web site, Sterling provides businesses anywhere from $10,000 to $100,000 in return for a fixed percentage of daily credit card sales. The Web site states that Sterling is buying future receivables, not making a loan, and that Sterling is often able to provide funds to businesses that would not be able to borrow money from a bank. 

Last May, another transaction with a Florida company called Faton was recorded by the Secretary of State. The collateral in that case was essentially all of the Les Bontemps' assets, including equipment, inventory, documents, credit card receivables and deposit accounts. A note in the filing stated that Les Bontemps had agreed not to further encumber itself. 

~ ~ ~ ~ ~

For his part, Ellis said he has signed a lease for 802 W. Main St. that runs through the end of 2011. He hopes the business will stick around a lot longer than that. 

If all goes as hoped on both sides of the intersection of Duke and Main streets, by late 2013 there could be three or four hundred residents — and perhaps that many office workers — at a renovated Chesterfield Building. Ellis is looking forward to having an expanded group of residents and workers that he can serve at Satisfaction and the Roxy. 

“I like the direction that downtown Durham’s going in,” Ellis said of the continuing redevelopment. “It has changed tremendously in the seven years I’ve been here.” 



I'm going to guess the down under pub went under because while someone else was getting a share of the credit card reciepts the owner was not getting a share of all of the sales that took place there.


while I certainly won't miss the down under crowd leering and drooling at my wife every time we strolled past (as they should mind you), i'm a little troubled by the exclusivity that seems to be more and more the norm 'round these here parts. "the roxy" - really? i won't know whether to expect to see a buzzcocks reunion or a disco rollerskating party. snark snark snark.

Dave W.

this is Durham, NC so I'm assuming a "minimal dress code" means you need shoes and a shirt right?

note to new owners... a conversation based, not loud bar is great and surely welcome. I look forward to checking it out.

But please consider losing the tag "professional"... smells like a heavy dose of bad cologne and pleated pants from here. and a misuse of the word "professional" to boot.

I'm a "professional" graphic designer/letterpress printer but I wear shorts and a t-shirt when the weather is hot, and I'd think you could be welcoming to "professional" carpenters, painters, landscapers, cooks, and other tradesmen coming in for beer, wine, and good conversation on the way home from work and not feel a need to separate them from the white collar crowd in order to create the kind of space you envision.

Seems like you could easily create a great laid back bar with some finesse/great ambiance/no TVs that is good for enjoying conversation, craft beer, and good wine which seems to be the larger point -- and a concept a large, diverse range of people probably are into and would support.


I don't want to be anywhere near a place that wants only young professionals to visit. Do people not realize how douche-tastic something like that sounds?

Sean Sondej

@Dave W.: Excellent point about how the term "professional" is really broad and one must be careful not to discriminate when using it.

I can understand a new establishment being concerned with trying to market another standard bar opening in Durham, because they would likely get similar feedback of "another bar on Main St?!" So they may be trying for some angle.

But, nevertheless, any establishment would do well to recognize the wide diversity of people in Durham and that catering to any one thing automatically segments your potential customers.

The Whiskey has had success, partially because they've added the 2nd floor, but also because the ambiance was/is unique. The West End Wine Bar tries to accomplish the same thing with the side room that has TVs versus the main room that doesn't.

Offering variety is not a bad thing. Most times I don't want to dress up to go have a beer, but on occasion being able to go somewhere that isn't smokey and I can have a nice drink & conversation would be great.

But, if I'm not surrounded by the kind of diversity I am when I'm out anywhere else in Durham, then I, and I assume others, won't be into it.

Bobbi Kirkpatrick

While the publicity is appreciated, please keep an open mind about the Roxy, and consider the source. We are thrilled that so many people are showing an interest in what is being done with the space. Overall, we are pleased with the article, but there are many areas in which misconceptions could arise. Please remember that this is the interpretation of notes taken by one man. If only a portion of a statement makes it into the article, then we look bad. If the author misreads his notes, I get a brand new name. Durham is such a gritty old town, with amazing people from all walks of life. We know we will not be able to provide a bar that works for everyone, but hope that you check us out for yourself before you make that decision.
Bobbi Kirkpatrick (aka Bobbi Richardson)
General Manager of The Roxy

Matthew E. Milliken

I need to make three points, two in response to Bobbi Kirkpatrick and one aimed more generally at other commenters and readers:

1. Mea culpa — I owe the Bull City Rising readers in general and Ms. Kirkpatrick in particular an apology. I have no idea why I gave her another surname; there is absolutely no reason or excuse for it. That is certainly one of the more baffling and embarrassing in my career since I began working exclusively as a reporter in 2004. The post will be corrected shortly.

2. I feel I accurately represented the ambitions of Staton Ellis and Ms. Kirkpatrick, to the extent that the concept still seems to be evolving somewhat and, yes, to the extent that any one person can fully capture the thoughts and intent of someone else.

If I may tie together my first two points: Obviously, any factual error detracts from the credibility of a journalist and his or her work, which is why we — in this case, I — need to be accurate.

3. Ms. Kirkpatrick urges folks to keep an open mind, which I find is often valuable advice — especially in this case, where a new venture is taking shape. As I recall telling Ms. Kirkpatrick and Mr. Ellis, I'm interested to see what the Roxy will be like.

Thanks all for reading and commenting, and again, I apologize for providing a flat-out-wrong surname to Ms. Kirkpatrick.



Given the link with Satisfaction which serves a very casual, diverse crowd...I don't see a problem with them diversifying a little bit. I don't think they are trying to create Solas Lounge or anything like that. Plus a dress code is utilized to keep trouble makers out. I believe that based on their history it will remain welcoming to ALL Dur'mites who are out to have a good time. We'll just have to wait to see when it opens...


Perhaps the term "professional" used here in this context was meant more as a contrast to the clientele of the previous establishment, The Downunder. Whether talking to a reporter or reporting to a vast audience of readers, I can appreciate the difficulty of delicately alluding to a certain demographic and/or presenting an opposite. Many of us know that the Downunder attracted a certain kind of patron and anyone who tries to successfully re-open that space as a bar is faced with publicly demonstrating that "those types" won't be at the new place. I'm guessing they're not worried about shorts and T-shirts.

I'm really happy to see that such a great location is going to be a great place.


I would like to thank Mr. Milliken for the apology, though it was not my objective. I simply needed to make a point that journalists are human, and therefore fallible.

Unfortunately, as Mr. Milliken says, it is difficult for one person to fully capture the thoughts and intent of someone else. The quote from which Mr. Milliken took his "strictly professional" line did in fact include the professional community (by this we simply mean the after work crowd, though some may have misinterpreted). However, this was not the only population mentioned. The list included Durhamites of many different age ranges and professions.

I do not feel that this is something Mr. Milliken has done maliciously or irresponsibly, but was simply dropped in the editing process. I wish Mr. Milliken and Bull City Rising much success in all future endeavors.

Furthermore, we urge everyone to visit and form their own opinions. We sincerely hope to create a comfortable space for people to enjoy great drinks with friends, loved ones, or business associates.


@Bobbi A word or two of unsolicited advice...stop commenting. This article, even with inaccuracies, will do more to benefit your establishment than you clearly realize. Your comments are coming across as pretty passive aggressive. You made your point in the first one and should have stopped there.

To bastardized Twain, 'Don't snub the most influential bloggers in Durham.'

That said, I'm glad that space is turning over and I look forward to checking it out.



I see why she responded to the "apology". I didn't see anything that really admitted to misinterpreting."I feel I accurately represented the ambitions of Staton Ellis and Ms. Kirkpatrick"..... At any rate I'm sure that we are all looking forward to another entertainment option downtown.

Cindy Lewis

I wish that space were still Bell Book & Coffee (wasn't that the name)?


I've been misquoted or misrepresented on here several times and let it go without comment because, in the grand scheme of things, and even all things Durham, a single blog is just not that important. But I would like to point out that, even in a foodie town like Durham, any mistakes made in the original article are nowhere near the worst mistakes made here. It's just no one bothered to point the others out.

Bobbi: I will miss the dart board but will not miss the steady leak that dripped down in front of it. Hope the landlord has fixed that. I look forward to the space becoming a clean well-lighted place and hope it will include a welcoming of older customers. I would love to be able to go out in Durham without having to wade through a bunch of 30-something, self-satisfied hipsters to get to the bar.

anon- so i don't get it if i try out roxy

my experience at sats since the new ownership has often been one of defensive hot-headed-ness at any criticism- like the pizza is cold or whatever. we (my family) stopped going about 3 years ago when the waiter kept rolling his eyes at us since i think maybe we were sitting outside too long in his opinion. it was really just the last straw in a long line of unhappy experiences.

bobbi's first attack on the blogger was not the humble " i didn't mean it like that" response she gave the second time around.

but whatever.

down under pub won't be missed but Roxy doesn't sound like the actual bar experience will be much different from sats from the comments here.



Matt Dudek

Jackson: As a "30-something, self-satisfied hipster" I'd also like to bring attention to the new problem of 20 year old Duke students starting to venture downtown and spend their money in our Durham establishments. I think more needs to be done to keep these young kids out of the bar areas.


@ Dudek:
as the parent of a "young kid" I think more needs to be done to keep all of those people with babies from moving downtown and bringing their babies out of the house with them. Who wants to live in a place where there are :shudder: different people.

Rob C

Yeah! roof-deck!!!


@ Jackson, Dudek, and Natalie
As a raging alcoholic, I am offended by all these "weekenders" and self-satisfied baby hipster 20-something Duke individuals getting in MY way--one who has REAL business at the bar. Who do they think they are? Out to have a "good time?" Out to "party down?" NO! Bars are for sad, broken people to drink away their lives. So stay home, play Candy Land, and watch That 70's Show or something. Leave the work to the professionals.


Harris: you are my hero

Ahmad Yarbor

I'm confused by some of the comments. So you are not feeling the idea of an upscale environment all because you don't want to put on the proper clothes?????? You are 30 plus years old and you like to wear t-shirts and flip flops on a friday/saturday night. But you don't want to hang out with Duke kids. GROW UP and get over it! New ideas demand new people. Or else this town will be overrun with dive bars and Irish Pubs.

John Martin

"The decor should call to mind a plush 1920s hangout for Chicago gangsters, Ellis said."

If Disney created bars, I guess this would be it: Caponeland!

But before the Roxy opens it's pseudo-gangland doors, I'd like to shed a tear for the Downunder Pub. The DUP was one of my favorite places precisely because you never knew who was going to come through the doors. In Armistead Maupin's novel, Tales of the City, Mary Ann Singleton rents an apartment in San Francisco and then asks her new landlady, Anna Madrigal, whether she has any objections to her having a pet. "My dear," Mrs. Madrigal replies, "I have no objections to anything." The DUP was kind of like that: there were customers who could have come out of an Ed Wood movie, or the Duke English Department, or the Durham Rescue Mission, or even Hope Valley, and no one (certainly not the staff) seemed to mind any kind of strangeness as long as it wasn't violent. Now I understand the angst of "young professionals" who want to pretend to be hanging out among the demimonde without actually encountering anyone different from themselves, and the Roxy should be fine for that. Dress-coded customers will drink their craft beers without worrying about a guy (who doesn't want to put on proper clothes!!!!!) guzzling a Colt 45 on the next stool. And the ladies can come and go, speaking of Michaelangelo, or at least, Michael Kors,

But it's odd: we talk a lot about diversity in Durham, but plenty of us sure as hell don't like it when we find it.


"But it's odd: we talk a lot about diversity in Durham, but plenty of us sure as hell don't like it when we find it."

That's why there are different types of establishments. There are plenty of diverse places to hang out in Durham.

Nancy Howell

In wanting to make Roxy a bar for the higher-end clientle don't you need for your staff to have high standards for themslves?

crowd SPRING

I didn't see anything that really admitted to misinterpreting."I feel I accurately represented the ambitions of Staton Ellis and Ms. Kirkpatrick".....

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