Urban Food Group changing Durham’s Lucia to Motto restaurant

Chef James Huff is converting Lucia in Durham’s West Village to Motto.
Chef James Huff is converting Lucia in Durham’s West Village to Motto. Neil Boyd Photography

Raleigh-based Urban Food Group is converting Lucia in Durham’s West Village to Motto, which will be run by chef James Huff and manager Brandon Carr.

Motto will serve New American cuisine in the Durham’s West Village complex.

Huff worked for Wash., D.C. restaurateur Bob Kinkead and at Stella! and Emeril’s, both in New Orleans, before being named chef de cuisine at Pearl Dive Oyster Palace in Wash., D.C. Carr, a sommelier, worked as manager at Durham’s recently-closed Four Square Restaurant for 17 years.

“We’re thrilled to have brought the two together and are excited about the menu, wine and cocktail list we’re seeing them bring to life,” said Kevin Jennings, co-owner of Urban Food Group in a press release.

Jennings and his wife, Stacey, opened their first restaurant, Frazier’s, in Raleigh in 1998. They also own Vivace in Charlotte and Raleigh, Coquette in Raleigh, Chow in Raleigh and Avelina, which is coming to Denver, Colo.

Jennings explained that he was already in discussions with Huff about helping the chef open a restaurant when the news broke about Four Square closing. Jennings contacted Carr, who is bringing a lot of the former Four Square staff to Motto. Huff and Carr are managing partners in the business.

“This is their concept. They are running it,” Jennings said in a phone interview.

Jennings expects Motto to open later this month. (They are still hiring and those interested should visit

The release indicated that Huff is looking forward to using the restaurant’s Italian-made, wood-fired oven to roast vegetables, fish and meats. Some dishes will include bacon fat-poached oysters with a corn and crab ragout, braised pork cheeks in a guajillo chile broth and Maryland-style crab cakes.

Info: 605 W. Main St. Suite A, Durham, 984-219-1965

Hours: 5-10 p.m. Monday-Thursday, 5-11 p.m. Friday-Saturday.

Weigl: 919-829-4848;

Twitter: @andreaweigl