Rinaldi's - 1117 W. Main St.

36.001705, -78.91242

Cross Street
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09.11.59 (Courtesy Herald-Sun)


1117 West Main, 1950s.

(Courtesy Herald-Sun)

I don't know a lot about Rinaldi's restaurant - except for a few lines I've found how Duke students and others used to go to Rinaldi's for the burgers in the 1950s. The yearbooks from the 1940s and 1950s are replete with references to Rinaldi's as a student hangout. I've only got a partial shot of the building facade, from 1953, located on the southeast corner of Peabody and West Main, adjacent to the Hall-Wynne funeral home.

Looking east from Milton St. (now Buchanan Blvd.) at half of Rinaldi's facade, 12.15.53.
(Courtesy The Herald-Sun Newspaper


From the 1952 Chanticleer - a bit wonky as the picture crosses the binding. 

Traffic patterns were a bit different around here, as the corner of now-East Campus (then the Women's College) was not yet cut off to connect Milton directly with Buchanan Blvd.

Aerial shot 1959 - Rinaldi's is near the center of the picture, with Hall-Wynne and its chapel on its right.
(Courtesy Durham County Library / North Carolina Collection)

Rinaldi's doesn't seem to appear in the annals of the 60s - I don't know if this was the same Pete Rinaldi who went on to run the Kentucky Fried Chicken further west, on 9th Street.

The building appears to have been torn down by the 1970s to expand Hall-Wynne's parking.


Looking southeast, 03.17.08

Aerial view of the area, 2007 (including McPherson's hospital across the street, which I've learned from the folks in Trinity Park is slated to have its rear wing chopped off by the friendly neighborhood extended stay hotel folks.)

36.001705 -78.91242


Pete Rinaldi’s daddy ran the eatery, which was a favorite of Duke students, and Pete worked there as a lad. At some point, I understand, he worked for Col. Sanders. A short time before he died of cancer he achieved his dream of a restaurant with his own name on it, up on Guess Rd.

I’m sure other people can fill in more detail on this interesting story.

A long-time West Durham resident provided the following account about Pete Rinaldi's...

"Durham's first Kentucky Fried Chicken was at 806 9th Street. The owner asked Colonel Sanders if he could call his franchise, "Pete Rinaldi's Kentucky Fried Chicken." The Colonel agreed -- making this restaurant one of a few KFCs in the nation to carry its owner's name. During his visits to the Duke Rice Diet, the Colonel enjoyed standing next to his life-sized fiberglass likeness (accurate down to the eyeglasses and Rotary pin) at the KFC and startle the beejeezus out of customers."

Pete Rinaldi had a fried chicken restaurant on Guess Road where there is currently a Bojangles. He catered many a Duke function from that location. The logo of the restaurant was red white and blue with Pete's name and many little stars.

I went to Duke in the mid-80s. Pete Rinaldi's on Guess Road was immensely popular with the students. Great chicken and biscuits to die for. His motto was "Takin Care of the Chicken Business", often shortened to the acronym "TCCB". I was back for my 20th reunion this April and was sorry to see they were no longer TCCB!

My Grandfather was a very large, and well known radio personality and country music promoter in the 60's 70's & 80's; his name is Austin Rigsbee.

Pete Rinaldi was my grandfather's best friend from the time they were little boys at E.K. Poe School, until Pete died some time around 1990 from prostate cancer. I was about 10 years old when Mr. Rinaldi died, but he was like a member of our family, and just an all around great man! Pete would never charge police, firemen, soldiers, or EMT service people for their meals. Pete was generous almost to a fault (if there is such a thing). Pete always wore a crisp white button-up shirt, a thin black leather vest, and a rustic-style tie. Pete was an Itallian (just in case you couldn't tell by the name), and to him, keeping his "jet black" hair and his health as long as he could was very important. For the reasons I just listed, Pete chose not to proceed with chemo and/or any other cancer treatment (the cancer was also at an advanced level). Everything I have read here are very accurate statements of Pete's career, and I thank you for sharing this information!

It makes me very happy to see that people still remember Mr. Rinaldi and the legacy that he and his father left our wonderful city!

God Bless!

I remember the slogan "Landsakes it's good" or something to that effect on their printed chicken buckets....

Pete's final location was in the Northgate food court, after he left thr Guess Rd location.

He lived down the street from me in West Durham. I believe he had two or three daughters. He was always a kind soul and I liked him. His chicken was better than KFC.

I worked there while I was in high school. Yeah, Pete was always pretty cool, and did, in fact, have three daughters: Lori, Wendy, and Amy.
Unfortunately, all good things must come to an end, and thus did the chicken empire.
And, yes, it beat the pants of both KFC and Bojay's.

Pete Rinaldi's was, no question, the best fried chicken I've ever had. My buds went to Duke and raved about it, so it was a must stop when I hit town. We showed up once near closing time and ordered a 12 piece bucket and four biscuits; we walked out with 15 pieces, mostly breasts, and a dozen of those killer biscuits because otherwise "they were going to the hog farmers." Landsakes it's good!!!

I'd pretty much kill for his spicy chicken recipe. A bit spicier than Bo's but with a bigger depth of flavor.

I also ate at Pete Rinaldi's many times. Saw Mr. Rinaldi regularly there, always in a vest and string tie, like Col. Sanders. He was always friendly, speaking to everyone in the dining area. I agree, the chicken was the best.

Prior to moving into 505 N. Gregson in 1922, this was the location of Thomas Graham's grocery store.  The building remained a full grocery store through to 1938, run after the Graham departure by Lonnie C. Draughon (1922), Edward N. Valentine (1923), and for the longest span by Mills P. Harrell and his wife Mary L. Harrell from 1924 to 1938. In 1939, Mills and Mary Harrell moved their grocery operation to the rear of the building, and Peter Rinaldi moved into the Main St. frontage with his famous Rinaldi's Grill.  It is interesting to note the Peter Rinaldi had originally operated his restaurant out of 326 N. Mangum.  It is also interesting to note that the spelling of his wife's name varies widely in the city directories from Arlene, Arline to Aileen!  Come 1956, Rinaldi's Grill is still operating out of the 1117 W. Main location, but Peter is also listed as the President of Piedmont Coffee Service.  Not having access to the 1957 directory, I do not known if the grill shuttered in 1957 or 1958, but from 1958 through to 1962 the storefront is listed as Vacant.  Come 1963, the building at 1117 W. Main was torn down to accommodate a parking lot for Hall-Wynne & Co. Inc funeral directors (at 1113 W. Main).  While the build date is currently listed between 1920-1945, the Sanborn Fire Insurance Map of the area clearly indicates that a building is present in 1913. Image removed.

(Call Number FFC912.32 D96.8, North Carolina Collection, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, Sanborn Fire Insurance company maps of Durham, N.C., 1913, Section 21) 

Image removed.

(1920s advertisement for Mills P. Harrell Meats and Groceries at 1117 W. Main Street)

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