Rue Cler is named after the market street where the parents of chef/owners John and Nathan Vandergrift lived in the 7th Arrondissement of Paris. Established in October of 2006, Rue Cler was the first fine dining establishment to open in Downtown Durham for decades, and the first French restaurant ever to cater to Downtown. We are proud to be pioneers of what Food & Wine magazine has dubbed the “foodiest small town in America”.


John Vandergrift honed his craft in the post-Nouvelle cuisine style at Épouvantail, a neighborhood restaurant of the Marais in the 3rd Arrondissement of Paris. John and Nathan spent years exploring the restaurants, wine bars, bistros, and brasseries of Paris bite by bite and glass by glass, changing their understanding of food and wine forever.


Using our extensive network of regional farmers and fishermen and our close friends in the wine business, we have tried to adapt the experience of a Parisian neighborhood restaurant and to offer a unique dining experience.  Our food is inspired by French tradition and seasonal, local produce. The wines we serve are all made by vignerons that we know personally, who themselves love food, and who craft their wine to showcase the specific terroir while harmonizing with the meal. Most of our vignerons practice biodynamic or organic farming. Our prix fixe dinner menu showcases the freshest ingredients the southeast has to offer, prepared simply and with care, served at a bargain price. We also serve classic bistro and brasserie dishes á la carte.  Our popular lunch and brunch services feature French-styled sandwiches, crêpes, salads, and more.


Under new ownership since May 1, 2013, Will Holloway and Wes Rountree have joined Nathan as partners in Rue Cler. Will is the managing partner and face of the restaurant. Wes Rountree is also a partner with Nathan in Cave Taureau Wines, Downtown Durham’s landmark wine shop. The same spirit that Rue Cler had at it’s opening in 2006 lives on though the family connection, but most importantly, the kitchen staff who have been at Rue Cler since the day it opened.




Those interested in local history – specifically, the history of our building – should

check out this page at Open Durham.


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