1.3 miles from downtown Durham, “Major” the bull
1802 W Main St, Durham 27705
Hours: Mon-Sun 10AM to 6PM
The Vibe: Collegial, conversational, active community
Wednesday, May 22, 2019 @ 9:17 AM
School is out and it shows here at Mad Hatter café. The place maintains it collegial and community vibe but there is a visible absence of undergrads. This morning it’s mostly residents, professors and other professionals associated with Duke University and this part of Durham. Conversation provides the backdrop. It’s active for a mid-week morning.
Tuesday, January 8, 2019
Duke University just started back up after the winter break. As a result, this long-standing Bull City building on the corner of Main and Broad Street is full of academic conversation. Feels sort of like a faculty lounge.
The place is hopping. Conversation reigns. Folks seem to know one another, maybe either from meeting here or from their social / professional network. Students and professors, or professionals who look like they could be professors, are all chatting away.
Despite the ample seating areas both inside and out, few seats can be found today. The seating area of the Mad Hatter is one large room with a bottleneck-like entrance. Two entrances opposite one another separate the foyer/ordering area, with the counter and bakery on one side and the seating on the other. The original building was a Phillips 66 service station back in the 1950s and still features the iconic gull-wing gas station design, albeit recently updated for a modern, yet still cozy, feel.
Besides coffee and an assortment of espresso drinks, the Mad Hatter offers a wide selection of in-house baked goods (from cakes to pies to cookies to pastries), breakfast all day, and light lunches and dinner in a large, airy, welcoming space. With the exception of two sets of bar seats – one stand-alone and the other along a window looking out onto Main Street – all of the tables are two tops which can be, and are, easily pulled together to accommodate groups. The décor is clean and bright with light, white tones and cool concrete floors. There’s a nice, large space outside for seating that features iron chairs and tables and a couple sculpture pieces.
The coffee house feels like it should be part of the formal university setting. It’s located directly across from Duke’s East Campus, and you can look out the large windows and see the dorms across the street. It has a kind of cafeteria feel – a modern chic one that students of an elite private college would expect. There is no music playing – conversation and inhabitants set the community tone.
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