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Alum's Beyù Blue Coffee will take over space cleared by Joe Van Gogh's departure

The Bryan Center Plaza location before Joe Van Gogh's departure in May
The Bryan Center Plaza location before Joe Van Gogh's departure in May

Duke Dining announced Tuesday morning that a new local coffee shop will be filling the void left by Joe Van Gogh. 

Beyù Blue Coffee, by the owner of Durham's Beyù Caffè, will be taking over the Bryan Center Plaza space in August. They plan to kick off the coffee shop's new location grand opening celebration, which will include live music, at the beginning of the semester.

"We want to be the ultimate community gathering space, and I believe coffee is a great starting point to bring people together," said Dorian Bolden, Trinity '02 and the owner of Beyù, in the news release.

The cafe's location on the Bryan Center Plaza is "literally 25 feet away from where I met my wife," Bolden said. She's also a Duke alumna—Taineisha Bolden, Trinity '04. In the news release, Bolden said that as an African-American business owner, he hopes his cafes's entrepreneurial spirit will inspire Duke students from all backgrounds.

"My overall goal is for the students to help define this space as their community spot for great coffee that fosters great and even constructive social interaction," the owner said.

The space was vacated by the local coffee chain in May after a public scuffle about the firing of two baristas.

The Indy Week reported that two baristas were fired by the coffee shop earlier that month after Larry Moneta, vice president for student affairs, complained about the music playing in the shop—rapper Young Dolph’s explicit “Get Paid.”

Moneta disputed that he intended for the baristas to get fired. In a later interview with The Chronicle, he said that the location had other issues such as cleanliness, so he felt it was necessary to inform Dining about his concerns with the music.

"It was never my intent that any of the Joe Van Gogh employees be terminated," Moneta wrote on his Facebook after the incident. "I felt and still feel that the choice of music for the venue was inappropriate, but if my actions in any way lead to their dismissal, I apologize and hope that the JVG management consider ways to reinstate their employment with the company.”

In the aftermath of the baristas’ firings, Joe Van Gogh announced May 11 that it was leaving the Duke location. Owner Robbie Roberts cited “our core values and what I want to embrace and advocate as a small business owner” in the company’s statement about leaving. 

"We respect Joe Van Gogh’s decision to end their relationship with Duke. We appreciate their partnership over the years and wish them great success going forward," wrote Kristen Brown, Duke's associate vice president of news, communications and media, in an email after JVG announced its decision. "Duke will continue to support local restaurants in our dining program."

Young Dolph gave the baristas $20,000 during one of his concerts, and President Vincent Price issued a statement apologizing for the incident.

"I am, in particular, sorry that the words of one of my senior administrators recently resulted in two individuals working for one of our on-campus vendors losing their jobs; and while I am pleased that the vendor has taken steps to reverse this action, I apologize for the precipitous and unfair treatment these employees experienced," he wrote in an email to the Duke community at the time. "We must do better."

Duke Dining Director Robert Coffey said in the news release he is excited to be bringing in a local coffee shop owned by an alumnus. The architect who will be designing the new space is a also a Duke alumnus—Ted Van Dyk, Trinity '83.

"Duke Dining is excited to be partnering with Dorian and Beyù Caffe," Coffey said. "I’ve been a huge fan of theirs since moving to Durham and believe the Duke community will be too."

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