776 Ninth St.

36.010462, -78.921771

Cross Street
Year built
early 1940s
Year(s) modified
Construction type
Building Type
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776 Ninth St., 02.20.51
(Courtesy The Herald-Sun Newspaper)

Built in the early 1940s, the masonry structure at 776 Ninth St. initially housed the Durham Transportation Corporation bus service. By 1946, the building housed the Yellow Cab Company and Hastings Bus Lines. By the 1950s, Avis Rent-A-Car shared the building with the Yellow Cab Company.

By 1965, the Atlantic Beauty College had renovated the building for their use.

772-774-776 Ninth St., 1970s.
(Courtesy Elmo's Diner)

The Atlantic Beauty College remained in business through 1985. In the late 1980s, the Ninth Street Bakery moved down the street from Ninth St. and renovated the space for their use. They moved their wholesale operations downtown at around the same time, to the then-recently-vacated Herald-Sun building.

I'm having trouble nailing down when the bakery decided to shutter their retail operations on Ninth St., but I think it was around 1993. The bakery would remain wholesale until ~5 years ago, when they resumed a retail presence out of their downtown location. (Which is nice, but doesn't approach the great selection of stuff they had when on Ninth St.)

The loss of Ninth St. Bakery on Ninth St. was softened by the opening of Elmo's Diner, which had been a Carrboro institution for a number of years at Carr Mill Mill (nee Durham Hosiery Mill No. 4.) The diner quickly became a fixture on Ninth St., seemingly busy at all hours of the day (and night.)

776 Ninth St., 04.05.09


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Great post. All hail Elmo's!

For future historians visiting this blog, years down the road, here's a list of 2009 restaurants in the area (thanks to DCVB)...

Bahn's Cuisine, 750 Ninth St
Vietnamese cuisine

Bali Hai Restaurant, 811 9th St
Mongolian Grill

Bean Traders, 714 Ninth St

Ben & Jerry's Ice Cream, 609 Broad St
Menu totals over 50 ice cream, frozen yogurt, and sorbet products.

Blu Seafood and Bar, 2002 Hillsborough Rd
Upscale, casual seafood with innovative regional classics.

Blue Corn Cafe, 716 9th St
Serving Latin-American cuisine; limited outdoor cafe seating available in addition to indoor seating with rotating displays of local artwork for sale.

Broad Street Café, 1116 Broad St
Curl up in cozy chairs and enjoy a latte, espresso, chai, or tea along with a slice of pie or cheesecake. Also offers wine, beer, sandwiches, soups, and live music six evenings a week.

Bruegger's Bagel Bakery, 626 Ninth St

Charlie's Neighborhood Bar & Grille, 758 Ninth St

Chubby's Tacos, 748 Ninth St

Cinelli's Ristorante & Pizzeria, 607 Broad St
Authentic Italian cooking. The authenticity of all recipies comes directly from Italian ancestry and from the small town of Monte San Giovanni.

Cosmic Cantina, 1920-1/2 Perry St
Mexican cuisine. All the basics are served: burritos, tacos, quesadillas, plus a selection of vegetarian options and a daily special.

Dain's Place, 754 9th Street
American cuisine. Neighborhood gathering space.

Dales Indian Cuisine, 811 Ninth St
Indian cuisine. Lunchtime buffet and dinner a la carte.

Devil's Pizzeria, 742 Ninth St
Subs, calzones, strombolis and various appetizers on top of the regular pizza menu. Specialty pizzas include stuffed pizzas with meat and veggies, lasagna pizzas and Rio Rancho pizza, with bacon, tomato and ranch.

Elmo's Diner, 776 Ninth St
Food Network’s "$40 a Day" host Rachael Ray proclaims that Elmo’s is an "awesome pick. Everything here looks great! Try some eggs in their infinite variety...." Breakfast is served all day, plus there are lunch and dinner favorites.

Erwin Square Cafe, 2200 W Main St

Francesca's Dessert Cafe, 706 Ninth St
Durham's oldest coffee house. Serving Counter Culture Coffee, with gelato and sorbetto made onsite, as well as pastries from Francesca's own bakery.

International Delights, 740 Ninth St
Serving a blend of International cusine, ranging from Greek to Middle Eastern.

Jimmy John's, 738 Ninth St

Joe Van Gogh, 1104 Broad St

Magnolia Grill, 1002 Ninth St
Magnolia Grill, one of "America's Best 50 Restaurants, " and its chef-owners Ben and Karen Barker are well-known for flavor and flair. The James Beard Foundation has named Ben "Best Chef in the Southeast" and Karen the nation's most "Outstanding Pastry Chef."

Metro 8, 746 9th St
Argentinian steak house.

Palace International Restaurant, 1104 Broad St
Excellent variety of dishes from Kenya.

Parizade, 2200 W Main St
According to Southern Living, "The doors open into a fantasy world the menu whirls you through the Mediterranean. The ebullient atmosphere reflects the personality of longtime Durham restaurateur Giorgios Bakatsias."

The Mad Hatter's Café and Bake Shop, 1802 W Main St

The Tavern, 1900 W Markham Ave
Serving a menu of burgers, hot dogs, chicken wings, and appetizers, as well as nightly drink specials and full ABC permits. Live music on Fridays. Darts, pool tables, Golden Tee, and foosball.

Vin Rouge, 2010 Hillsborough Rd
Named one of Durham’s best restaurants by The Boston Globe and given 3-1/2 stars by The Raleigh News & Observer, the French bistro Vin Rouge offers provincial cooking and an extensive wine selection.

Vita, 2200 W Main St
A little bit of everything.

Watts Grocery, 1116 Broad St
Bon Appétit writes, chef Amy Tornquist is “known for her distinctive North Carolina-style cuisine; she makes her own bourbon-laced pimento cheese at Durham’s hottest restaurant.”

Whole Foods Market - Wellspring Café, 621 Broad St

It was definitely after 1993 that the Bakery moved out of 776. I graduated from NCSSM in 1994, and it was definitely still the Bakery at that point. I would guess somewhere around 1996. That was the point that my parents moved back to Durham, and although my memory is fuzzy on the subject, I think I remember hearing that the bakery had closed but some diner was going to move in.

What's with all the newspaper machines? Why would Elmo's want all that clutter out front? Does anyone regulate this stuff?

If you go by elmos on a sunday morning. There is almost always a fair bit of a line. So you go outside, you get yourself a lot of reading material from the newspaper boxes and you read them.

The boxes are commonly used.

I remember going to the bakery with my daughter when she was around four or five years old - old enough to walk calmly and converse peacefully when it was just the two of us and she wasn't competing with her older brother for my attention. That was in 1996/1997. I started going there when we first moved to Durham in the mid-80's. I've got many great memories of the Bakery. Thank you for the post - I've really been enjoying your Ninth St. area series.

According to Ninth St. Bakery's site and this story on WRAL they moved in 1992.

The 9th St. Bakery site says that by 1992 they had outgrown their original space, which I profiled a few days ago, and moved to a larger cafe (this one) and moved their wholesale operations downtown (which I believe that they did prior to closing this retail location.) WRAL just infers from this that they moved everything downtown in 1992.


Gary's right. While wholesale operations moved out sooner, 9th Street bakery didn't leave until later (December 1996).

Elmo's opened in May of 1997.

Here's our upper Ninth Street page... http://www.owdna.org/snaps1.htm

The Herald-Sun didn't leave its downtown space on Market Street until 1991 or 1992, so the latter year would be the likely time that the 9th Street Bakery moved its wholesale operation to that space. Wish they'd open up a little bakery/cafe again.

9th Street Bakery continued to bake bread at to old location for at least 2-3 years before moving downtown. Racks of bread were loaded into a step-van and driven across the street at about 5:00 AM every morning. I think sometimes the racks were just walked across the street.

In the days before Starbucks, 9th St. Bakery and Francesca's were the only places in Durham to have an espresso machine. I remember one time someone from Seattle held a little seminar on espresso an cappuccino, and taught us how to make better drinks, though since we weren't using thermometers in the milk steaming pitchers, I think we still scalded the milk fairly often. I made many terrible cappuccinos and cafe-au-laits, I'm sure. And I apologize.

Anyone know what's upstairs at the Elmo's building? Just curious...

9th St. Bakery was still there when I was at NCSSM from '95 to '97. I remember one evening when a bunch of us had gone out to the reservoir on Green St. and had gotten a little loaded up on drink and smoke. A spring thunderstorm rolled in out of nowhere, and we fled to the bakery for cover. I remember about six of us rolling in soaking wet and me with my technicolor "Straight is Great" orthodontics t-shirt on (the bakery served a very mixed crowd, especially that night, it seemed)... you could almost hear a record scratching to a halt.

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