1114-B West Chapel Hill St, Durham 27701
0.9 miles from downtown Durham
The Vibe: Unique, diminutive, fair weather destination
Thursday June 13, 2019 @ 2:54 PM
It’s a late spring day in Durham, and with temperatures in the mid-70s, the dry air and mostly overcast skies makes it feel like a New England summer day (enjoy it while it lasts, Durhamites!). The locals are taking advantage of the weather by being at JVG West End – the converted auto repair shop that opens its large bay doors to the outside. Young professionals fill this petite cafe. An easy, leisurely vibe exists here today, which fits the unhurried pace of the neighborhood. ’80s throw-back tunes from Lisa Lisa & Cult Jam, The System, Soul II Soul, Sheila E, The Temptations, and New Edition add to the relaxed atmosphere.
Wednesday February 6, 2019 @ 2:36 PM
It’s a Wednesday in February and I’m at Joe Van Gogh West End. There are three JVG locations in Durham (and nine in total spread across Greensboro and the Triangle area). This one is on West Chapel Hill Street and is the closest one to downtown Durham. It lives in the repurposed Original 1950s Reves Gulf Station, which provides a unique atmosphere.
This location is also the smallest of the three JVGs in Durham. In fact, it’s kind of a mini-coffee shop, creatively ensconced in the space of a two-bay garage of the former auto repair shop. Durham’s first independently owned yogurt shop, Local Yogurt, occupies the other half, in what probably used to be the office. A third car bay serves as a type of neutral space between the coffee and yogurt shops.
The temperature is warm enough today that both bay doors are open. This gives the cafe’ more space and depth. When the weather is nice, this shop is the place to be.
Inside, the coffee bar itself takes up a third of the café. The remaining space is occupied by 10 or so tables for two. A small stand offers packaged snacks and JVG branded merchandise. And like the JVG in Woodcroft, you can buy roasted beans! That’s pretty much it for inside. Outside is a covered seating area that is actually larger than the inside. It’s underneath a metal canopy which was probably the awning for the fuel pumps.
JVG West End is kind of like a miniature version of the two JVGs in Durham. While similar in brand design, because it’s diminutive it’s kind of like a pitstop shop. A place to get great coffee but not necessarily spend a whole lot of time . . . unless the weather is nice. Then this in-and-out spot turns into a great hang out. Music plays, but because both bay doors are open the sounds of the outdoors, street activity and traffic drown out the tunes.
Today’s is a young crowd. Probably mostly Duke students. Those that are seated are working on computers or have a book open. Most of the activity, however, is at the coffee bar – people walking up, getting their drink, and exiting to sit outside or just be on their way.
Directly across the street is the Durham Co-op. Its motto prominently displayed above the front door: “Everyone Welcome.” Next door is a restaurant and bar called Grub. It’s a great spot for good food, drink and atmosphere. So, you can conveniently grab a coffee, a meal and drink, frozen yogurt for dessert, and your groceries before heading home for the day!
If you like this review, click here for a list of all the other reviews of coffee shops in Durham.