Downtown Durham Beyu Caffe ending jazz concerts

An open mic night this summer at Beyu Caffe in downtown Durham. The coffee shop is ending live performances at the end of the year.Steve Bydal

Beyu Caffe, a popular downtown Durham coffee shop, restaurant and jazz spot, will drop the jazz later this year — and all concerts.

In an announcement Monday evening, Beyu Caffe owner Dorian Bolden said he wrestled with the decision to discontinue live music. He recently opened a new coffee shop, Beyu Blue, on the Duke University campus.

“The heavy demand of running a growing coffee shop, restaurant, bar, and live music venue under the same roof was simply taking a toll on me and my family,” Bolden said.

Beyu Caffe opened about a decade ago at Five Points in downtown Durham. It is one of a small number of African American-owned businesses downtown. A few years ago it moved to a bigger location a few doors down on Main Street, still at Five Points. It is a popular place to eat, meet up and get coffee during the day, and it draws crowds for its musical performances at night.

Shana Smith of Beyu Caffe said the shop is returning to its roots, which has “always been at the heart and soul of the business.” Beyu is pronounced “be you” because Bolden wanted the coffee shop to be a place people can be themselves.

“Recently, I finally gave myself permission to ask myself, ‘What am I most passionate about? What do I enjoy the most?’ After the opening of Beyu Blue at Duke University, where I found myself back on the espresso machine making coffee, I was taken back to the cold day in December when I first opened Beyu Caffe. By coming full circle, I suddenly had the clarity of what I needed to focus on,” Bolden wrote.

Bolden said he created Beyu Caffe in Durham, after a career on Wall Street, to be “the ultimate community gathering space.”

There’s still time to see a show or two at Beyu downtown.

Beyu’s last live music performance will be on Dec. 31 for its “What the Funk” New Year’s Eve celebration. The Tre King band will perform.

Beyu Caffe is also planning a farewell celebration for artists and guests. Then in January, Beyu Caffe will focus on coffee, daytime food, occasional community-focused events like talks and readings, and private events, Smith said.

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