Beyu Caffe makes a difference in the community

The colorful sign of Beyu Café. (Staff photo by Marquise Little)


From the initial step into the Beyu Caffe’, a genuine welcoming and  sense of community is received from the staff. The hardened wood floors offer warmth and comfort. The savoring scent of fresh coffee beans sets the stage for the café that the restaurants diverse clientele are drinking.

Beyu Caffe is black-owned business that specializes in American coffee, describing themselves as a “sophisticated restaurant with soul.” The well known local café opened in 2009, offering downtown Durham one of its first tastes of refined quality coffee establishments during its transition period.

Becoming a steady place for rising businesses has also brought downtown Durham its fair share of homeless and unemployed citizens. Restaurant owner Dorian Bolden’s generosity is obvious when treating a homeless women to a free, fresh cup of coffee upon entry into the cafe. The woman thanked Dorian graciously before leaving.

For many, of Durham’s residents the gentrification process came as a stark reality for them and their family. Depending on the area it forced locals to leave their homes and find new residency in efforts to rid Durham of “lowest income” areas, thus providing more opportunity for new businesses and apartment complexes. This not only affected many to leave their, but some could not afford to leave, causing jumps in Durham’s rate of below poverty households.

While handling tasks of his own  Bolden also runs food  to assist his staff. His managerial tasks and responsibilities are only a part of his hands-on approach. Bolden described how as a manager/owner his performance is not simply limited to his own responsibilities. His staff seems to appreciate his tactics.

Bolden defines the business as a quiet coffee shop offering a place for many to kick back, and grab a cup of coffee and food. Although Beyu is a black-owned business emitting a soulful scenery, the restaurant holds a diverse clientele. Bolden spoke the restaurant’s clientele saying, “We position ourselves to cater to all people, where everyone feels welcome but there’s definitely an added level of soul and vibrancy, I think that’s something that everyone enjoys.”

Beginning as a coffee shop and later offering live music for weekend clients became one of Beyu Cafe’s signature trademarks. After local bands, poets, and artists would apply to perform at the caf, one would chosen for the weekend performance.

“Recently we discontinued the live music, so we could focus on our core product, which is the coffee, ” said Bolden. “At some point we became a business running coffee shop, live music and a bar. We didn’t want to become a jack of all trades and master of none. This lead us to discontinue the live music.”

Bolden stated a common saying among businesses “either adapt or die.” Due to Durham’s ongoing gentrification process this has proven to be significant for the coffee shop. “Increases in real estate prices and lease rates makes thing a lot more expensive to not only live, but run a business as well,” said Bolden.

It is an understatement to say that Beyu Caffe stands separately from other coffee shops. When I think about how we have people of color in leadership positions,it does add to a certain cultural vibrancy. “Somebody that comes with a prison record will be looked at differently than other places,” Bolden states.

When asked about work in the community outside of the restaurant, Bolden spoke about their partnership with Duke Durham Affairs. “ We do a lot of different community farms. We actually have something coming up this Thursday with Raleigh, Durham black professionals,” said Bolden.

Bolden also speaks on the company’s work in public schools and foundations, mentioning their food and coffee system taking place throughout Durham and Raleigh. This includes providing coffee from the restaurant to local schools in the morning.

Beyu has taken the initiative to also open their dining room to give way to small entrepreneurship courses. For example, the café hosts a night for young adults to come to the restaurant for entrepreneurship engagement. These courses have been placed for many young adults and teenagers in surrounding areas to receive access to mentorship and knowledge on business senses, which can be found on the restaurants Facebook page.

Many of the company’s efforts to give back not only applies to feeding the local areas with its supplies, but also nurturing the young community to think about life after school and college. With a strong, black representative, many students have the opportunity to see someone who looks similar to them becoming a successful leader.

For everyone, food plays an obvious fundamental role, but Bolden prides his company on improving the future of the youth as well through knowledge and education. This has often given Beyu its generous face outside of its facility.