Fans of the closed Gossip Diner can rejoice, because owner Sam Zureiqi has opened a new restaurant, Dine in Durham, in the location of the former Durham’s Kitchen on 325 Main Street, right next to the Durham HealthMart Pharmacy.
“Dine in Durham is an extension of Gossip Diner,” Zureiqi said.
“We serve all American food, breakfast, lunch and dinner.” The menu includes burgers, pot roast, pork chops, country fried steak, and pasta as well as a selection of sea food that includes fish and chips, tilapia, and salmon.
A recently introduced special of a lobster roll has proven so popular that it has remained on the menu ever since it was introduced, with fresh ingredients delivered several times a week.
Most of the entrees are made with fresh ingredients, which are delivered to the restaurant daily, including bread from LaSalle, “A very very popular bakery in Meriden,” Zureiqi said.
Zureiqi said that the new location comes with a bit of a stigma, because “in the last seven years it was turned over seven times.”
A veteran restuarant owner, Zureiqi is confident that “this place will not see eight businesses in eight years. We believe we have the right business model for this place.”
“Value is big time important for us, we do recognize that it is tough times,” Zureiqi said.
The location has been remodeled and is now decorated with artwork and antiques, all of which are for sale from Allan Casterino. Casterino was a long-time customer of Gossip, Zureiqi said, and antiquing has been a long-time hobby of his, but he seldom sold anything.
Zureiqi suggested decorating the new Dine in Durham location with antiques and allowing customers to buy them if they wished — a win-win that would allow Casterino the opportunity to sell some pieces while also creating “a great atmosphere” for the restaurant, Zureiqi said.
Customers frequently walk around to look at the antiques after ordering food.
Zureiqi said he was shocked when, in only a month and a half of business, Casterino has already sold more than 40 pieces.
“People see something they like, or that reminds them of the old days, and they buy it,” Zureiqi said.
“We did not think we would be selling a lot. I’m actually shocked we sold so many.”
That isn’t the only surprise Zureiqi has had in the first month and a half of business: another is that the best selling item on the menu thus far has been liver and onions.
Zureiqi said he strives to offer customers what they want.
For example, although a meatball sub isn’t one the menu, when a customer requested one, the ingredients were in stock and he was able to make it.
When two customers requested parmesan peppercorn dressing, which Dine in Durham did not offer, he added it to the menu several days later.
“Little by little we are going back to the full menu we had at Gossip,” Zureiqi said. “Once our old customers realize it’s us they are coming back, little by little.”
“If we continue on the path we’ve started down now, we feel we are going to be very successful,” Zureiqi said.