DURHAM SADDLE CLUB aka SADDLE & FOX

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DURHAM SADDLE CLUB aka SADDLE & FOX

3211
,
Durham
NC
Built in
1946
/ Demolished in
2009
Construction type: 
Neighborhood: 
Type: 

Comments

  • Submitted by Michael Bacon on Wednesday, April 8, 2009 - 1:10pm

    You mean that thing was authentic? I always hated it, because I thought it was some entrepreneur's notion to bring faux-western chic to Durham. That, and the food at Cattleman's was absolutely horrible.

    And here it was an architectural relic all along. Well, dang.

  • Submitted by Anonymous on Wednesday, April 8, 2009 - 2:56pm

    I do have the 1958 Seeburg Jukebox that was in the saddle and Fox from "58-through the early sixties !

  • Submitted by Fritz on Wednesday, April 8, 2009 - 3:53pm

    the only thing that seemed to thrive there was that odd collection of cactus plants...I wonder if they were transplanted or euthanized?

    Didn't that restaurant move to the abandoned Burger king down the road before it finally dissolved?

    Anyone eaten in the new "Mediterranean" rest on the old BK site?

  • Submitted by aburtch on Wednesday, April 8, 2009 - 5:12pm

    I was actually paid to review that place once when it was Cattleman's...needless to say it did not get a good review.

    But I had no idea that the building was historic. I noticed at the time that the stone fireplace and horse memorabilia was authentic, but now wish I had know more about the building. See all the great things you learn on Endangered Durham!

  • Submitted by kendrarocap on Wednesday, April 8, 2009 - 7:14pm

    does anyone remember when the place had a huge pile of oyster shells out front? I'm thinking that must have been late 70's or early 80's.

  • Submitted by wren on Thursday, April 9, 2009 - 9:23am

    I had no idea. I always thought it was a fairly recent (and relatively boring looking) structure.

    Speaking of horses and such, what was the story behind that old stable that used to be on North Duke Street about two blocks north of Carver? There wasn't anything around it, just a big old stable. There was talk of making it a steak house back in the 70s-80s, then it either was torn down or fell down.

  • Submitted by Michael on Thursday, April 9, 2009 - 1:31pm

    I had never been to Cattlemans but I had always assumed it was a decent restaurant since it had been around for like 20-30 years....I wonder which fast food restaurant will replace it.....

  • Submitted by Anonymous on Friday, April 10, 2009 - 1:39pm

    I've heard its yet another auto parts store going in there. Can't remember the name of it at the moment.

  • Submitted by devil on Friday, April 10, 2009 - 10:17pm

    Cattleman's had an awesome all -you-can-eat Prime Rib Buffet !!

  • Submitted by Michael on Thursday, August 13, 2009 - 1:37pm

    Oreillys Auto Parts

    I guess we're lucky it wasnt another check cashing spot or pawn shop.....but why another auto parts stop accross the street from another and next door to yet another....

  • Submitted by David Haynes on Monday, May 10, 2010 - 1:20am

    My family owned the land from the time they operated the horse stables and my grandfather, Charles "Sonny" Haynes, opened the Saddle Club restaurant in the 1950's I think, which later was named the Saddle and Fox. He was an avid horseman and also played football for Duke in the early 1940's and was a highly decorated WWII veteran who fought in Italy where he discovered a love of fine cuisine and Italian wine. He returned and opened the restaurant eventually becoming a well known chef. He served continental cuisine and it was a four star restaurant (before five stars were awarded) and a popular choice for special occasions. Many well known musicians also entertained in the lounge. The restaurant displayed a lot of Duke and hunting memorabilia.

    I do not know if the structure with the fireplace dated to the original horse farm, it certainly may have. He later developed some of the adjoining land including the Kroger store, which is now the Advance Auto Parts store. He retired in the 1980's and sold the restaurant which took on a new persona, but it sounds like it still had some of the "western" memorabilia in it from the original restaurant. Although the structure was also significantly modified after he sold it, it is still sad to hear that it and the fireplace with the "SC" were demolished, which I just learned of by seeing your post.

    In response to another post - yes, there was a large pile of oyster shells in the parking lot and I remember a publicity photo of my grandfather sitting at a table which was placed on top of all of the oyster shells somehow, in black tie being waited on by Mr. Walter Grandy, who was the maitre'd there for over 30 years.

    Hope this information is of some interest. My grandfather loved Durham and Duke University and loved being a chef.

  • Submitted by Michael Manning on Thursday, July 22, 2010 - 1:28am

    I waited tables at the Saddle and Fox Restaurant in 1971. Charlie Haynes was the owner and operator; Ruby his wife was the hostess, and Mr. Walter Grandy was the maitre'd. We had two good chefs.
    The menu was ambitious, with chateaubriand sliced at the table, baked oysters, and flaming deserts. The wine list included French grand cru. New York strip steaks were the best thing on the menu.
    Once or twice a year, the dog show people came in and we were very, very busy. Escapees from the Duke diet program would come in and go way off their diet.
    Our best waiter was named Marvin, and he was a natural salesman who for a while went to work in Raleigh selling cemetery plots.
    Our dishwasher, Clarence, worked really hard and we slipped him a few beers on a busy Saturday night.
    Wednesday was Italian night, and we had really good chicken catchitore (sp)
    The next best food we had were fresh oysters, steamed, and opened at the bar.
    In 1971, Durham County did not have hard liquor sales, but people did order Irish coffee with the coffee and whipped cream on the side.

  • Submitted by Charlotte Smith on Thursday, September 20, 2012 - 10:05am

    I remember going there partying and meeting the most interesting people. It was a great place to have a drink..

  • Submitted by Richard Miller on Monday, July 22, 2013 - 5:26am

    I certainly remember when it was called the Saddle and Fox and I dined there several times when I was a young man. It was then a charming and very quaint place -- with an elegance and rich patina that can't be manufactured, but can only be acquired through the passage of long years. My memories of it are fond indeed. I was sorry to see it pass into history. It was never the "same place" when it was transformed under new management to "Cattleman's."

  • Submitted by kwix on Friday, August 23, 2013 - 1:32am

    Wow!  Didn't know this.

    When I moved to Durham in 1986 for grad school, I noticed that there were two restaurants -- Cattlemen's and The Italian Garden Restaurant -- which in effect occupied the same space, just with different doors.  Seemed like a marketing ploy; it was clear they shared the same kitchen.  

    Didn't try it until around 1989.  The space was good, the ambiance lacking and the food mediocre at best.  I seemed like some misguided local attempt to emulate a boring, inauthentic chain restaurant.  Never went back.  

    Had no idea of its storied past as a better restaurant, not to mention the stables that were on the site.

     

  • Submitted by Donald Lowrance on Wednesday, October 30, 2013 - 2:19pm

    My cousin, John H. Gattis, a public school teacher in Durham played the piano at the Saddle and Fox. Both he and Walter Grandy, the maitre'd at the Saddle and Fox taught at Hillside High in Durham, N C

  • Submitted by Kelly Huckabee Varn on Tuesday, February 11, 2014 - 1:15pm

    My father was Thomas Franklin Huckabee or Tom. Your grandfather probably called him "Huck". He grew up with Sonny Haynes in Durham, went to Duke and to war as well. He talked about Sonny and the Saddle Club they built fondly. He claimed to have built the fireplace stone by stone and there is an old photo of him doing just that. Therefore, he was probably the one who put the "S" in backward!!! I had never heard about that or if I had, I did not remember. He died in 1999 in Jacksonville, Florida. I am his daughter by his second wife, Jean Mayo Huckabee. I studied architecture and have an original set of the plans/blueprints for the Saddle Club dated 3-10-46. Mother has often wondered what happened to the restaurant and if it is still open. They went back to Durham for Dad's 50th Duke reunion but that may have been 20 plus years ago. Hate to break the news to mother, but it appears that it may live on in Charles Haynes' personal memorabilia at Chapel Hill. That is where Dad went to flight school just before they sent him into WWII (and my husband played golf for the Tar Heels in the 70s). I can only believe that their reunion in heaven must have been quite something...God is probably still shaking his head! So happy to get this information about the Saddle Club and his beloved friend Sonny Haynes.

  • Submitted by Virgil D. Malone on Friday, January 2, 2015 - 8:37pm

    I worked at the Saddle and Fox Steak House and Oyster Bar while I was a student at Hillside High School in about 1974. I have very fond memories of the place and I remember Charlie Haynes and his wife, Clarence the dish washer, and Walter Grandy. I was the pot washer and I'll always remember how respectful and polite everyone was. I wanted to visit the place later in life but never did. I miss that place.

  • Submitted by durhamite on Saturday, January 3, 2015 - 10:41pm

    The Saddle and Fox (with the oyster shell pile) was cool and elegant enough that we had a prom group meal there in spring of 1977. It was very nice. I guess we had heard of our parents eating there on social occasions...and that was what it was for us!

  • Submitted by PR on Monday, January 5, 2015 - 5:05pm

    I remember LOVING that italian restaurant as a kid. Of course, my palate was probably not that refined at the age of 10 or 11.

  • Submitted by PR on Monday, January 5, 2015 - 5:16pm

    also, and sorry for the 2nd posting, does anyone remember alexander's restaurant on hillsborough? i want to say that it was right next door to cattleman's and the two buildings were merged to create the italian kitchen/cattleman's duo. i have very, very early memories of heading out hillsborough road to eat at alexander's on special occasions. it was a bit higher-end but nothing terribly fancy. i remember being 3 years old and being terrified of the chandeliers, thinking they would fall on me.

  • Submitted by Virgil D. Malone on Sunday, January 18, 2015 - 5:18pm

    Wow, I remember Mr. Gattis from Hillside High School. I did not know he played piano at the Saddle and Fox. What a interesting piece of history.

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Last updated

  • Thu, 08/22/2013 - 12:24pm by gary

Comments

3211
,
Durham
NC
Built in
1946
/ Demolished in
2009
Construction type: 
Neighborhood: 
Type: 

 

'The Saddle Club' was built in 1946 by Charles Haynes, Jr., known to friends as Charlie or Sonny.  Haynes has enough interesting stories to fill a book with. Haynes was born in 1921, and at 13 years old was Durham's youngest Eagle Scout. After attending Durham High School, he attended Duke University and played football in the famous 1942 Rose Bowl, held at Duke because of worry of a West coast strike during the war. Also while at Duke, Charlie taught riding classes to undergrads in the physical education department.  Before there was a restaurant in this location there were riding stables, and before that, a fox club. 

Haynes on a horse in competition. (Charles C. Haynes Papers #5398, Southern Historical Collection, The Wilson Library, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.)

On July 4, 1941, Charlie Haynes and his mother opened a riding school and polo grounds on this site called Hillandale Stables. The family also owned Durham Livery Stables.  Within 2 years of starting the stables though, Charlie had, by his own account, faked his way through his military eye exam and was on his way to war, leaving his mother to run the Hillandale Stables.

His mother had apparently taught many children from wealthy families how to ride, including Tom Kenan (Kenan Oil, Kenan Stadium). From what I can gather, they got additional business from Camp Butner, the nursing school and college kids taking summer school classes. One letter states that on Feb 24, 1944 (unusually sunny) they did $123 in business. 

The family home was at 1208 Arnette Ave. In wartime correspondence between son and mother, they spoke of possibly moving to "the farm" and selling the house on Arnette. While I have no records to verify this, it seems that the Haynes owned a large parcel of  land along Hillsborough Road, of which the restaurant and stables were only a part. He also ran a large construction company from 1948-56 on the same property. 

There were many offers on portions of their land in the 1943-44 time period, as the city expands West. One correspondance mentions that Buck  Marshburn has inquired about buying the land "at the corner" to build a filling station. A letter from overseas in March of '44, Haynes writes to his mother offering advice of what to do about another offer for a portion of their land that had stables, of $5,000 (a month earlier she noted they were down to $6500 owed).  If they sold that particular portion, they had to move the stables and buildings. Haynes was worried how his mother would handle this on her own, as labor was short due to the war(as was building supplies) and she aleady was doing most of the labor. He instructs her to build new stables from their own timber, using this diagram. I do not know if any of this ever occured but the timing makes sense. 

 

As the city encroached their property, the riding paths became less and less rural. Where 50 years earlier men would come here to this same land to foxhunt (possibly called Hillandale Hunt Club) , now the idea of hunting or horseriding in this location proved unrealistic. Increasing industrial development along the once rural road meant the demise of the club by the 1950s or possibly earlier. 

Luckily, Haynes was a born businessman and was thinking ahead. With every letter he wrote home to his family while stationed overseas, he included money to sock away. While in North Africa during WWII, Charlie had been eating C-rations for weeks. One night, he and his buddies were invited to the French Foreign Legion for a seven course, candle lit dinner with case after case of wine. He said in numerous interviews that that meal was what convinced him to be a chef. This trip was soon followed by a long stint in the Italian Alps where he learned about food from the locals. (At some unknown point in time he did attend culinary school). 

Charles C. Haynes Papers #5398, Southern Historical Collection, The Wilson Library, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

 

Along with fellow Duke alumnus and vet Tom Huckabee, they get the plan in motion to open their own restaurant to monopolize on the traffic about to come their way. Receipts show formica tabletops, steam tables, plates and silverware, among other kitchen equipment, mainly purchased second hand from Camp Butner before Haynes had even returned home yet. 

According to the story that Haynes himself told of the restaurant's origin, they built it with wood from their own land. The rocks from the fireplace were also local, and were brought from the other side of their property by a horse drawn wagon. The artist who was putting the "SC" in the fireplace put in the S backwards somehow and Haynes said he didn't have the heart to tell him so it was just always wrong. When it came time to put in the mantle on the fireplace, Huckabee, the partner, stood at one end and they laid the mantle on top of his head, to balance one side while they affixed the other. So the mantle sat at 5'5", Huckabee's height. To keep with the homemade vibe, they took the wheels off of the horsedrawn cart they had used and put them on the wall and ceiling. The restaurant opened in June of 1946. 

Photo from 1948 (Charles C. Haynes Papers #5398, Southern Historical Collection, The Wilson Library, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.) 

Photo, September 1958. Charles C. Haynes Papers #5398, Southern Historical Collection, The Wilson Library, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

 

When Charlie Haynes, Jr. came home from the war, it was with a Purple Heart and Silver Star, and he became a local hero of sorts. Business was booming. In its earliest years, the restaurant was advertised as a "dine and dance".  The Saddle Club had a small orchestra pit, and had live bands  numerous nights a week. Haynes said that dancing under the stars was the thing to do before they had air conditioning! His first wife, Jane, used to be on Broadway, and may have influenced the addition of a dinner and a show portion that was shortlived. During the 1970s there was a regular piano player. 

The Saddle Club, which was renamed the Saddle and Fox, had the same Maitre d', Walter Grandy, for over 35 years. In the beginning, they gew all of their own vegetables for the restaurant (I am not sure if this was out back or elsewhere), but they mentioned they were the first place around to have a salad bar. They did tableside cooking as well as a full French menu (later adverts call it an English Pub, other ads show Charlie in front of the Leaning Tower of Pisa). The most popular menu item was oysters. They would pile up the shells out front along the road for passersby to see, as seen in the photo below. 

Charles C. Haynes Papers #5398, Southern Historical Collection, The Wilson Library, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.


Aerial view of Hillsborough Road and the Saddle Club, 1950s.


Aerial view of Hillsborough Road and the Saddle Club, 1955.

 

The Saddle Club was, from customer recollections,  a popular destination for fancy dates as well as just for drinks. In later years, Haynes was instrumental in getting liquor laws loosened, so that they could stop selling  Irish Coffee (hold the coffee and cream).  Charlie Haynes kept his close ties with his alma mater, and the Saddle Club/Saddle and Fox was a popular location for date nights, graduation dinners and football weekends among the Duke crowd. Fourty three school penants hung from the walls of the bar. 

"Interfraternity council president Chuck White, the Shapleigh sisters and Neal McQuire spend a very quiet evening at the saddle club." (Chanticleer, 1948.)

"While East sits home, West stags it at the popular Saddle Club bar. Drowning sorrows in glasses of beer, stags crowd the bar and avoid the cover charge in the main dining room. Students help out behind the bar as well as in the check room, making them feel that the Saddle Club belongs to the college crowd." (Chanticleer, 1948.)

"Favorite haunt of Dukesters seeking escape from Gothic and Georgian atmosphere is the crowded Saddle Club. Couples sway to the juke box's tunes." (Chanticleer, 1952.)

By the 1980s, it had become the seemingly incongruous Cattleman's steakhouse / Italian Garden restaurant.

1999 tax photo (DC tax office)

The building was torn down in 2009 and replaced with an O'Reilly Auto Parts.


Site of the former Saddle Club, 04.04.09 (Photo by Gary Kueber)

October 2009 (DC tax photo)

Comments

You mean that thing was authentic? I always hated it, because I thought it was some entrepreneur's notion to bring faux-western chic to Durham. That, and the food at Cattleman's was absolutely horrible.

And here it was an architectural relic all along. Well, dang.

I do have the 1958 Seeburg Jukebox that was in the saddle and Fox from "58-through the early sixties !

the only thing that seemed to thrive there was that odd collection of cactus plants...I wonder if they were transplanted or euthanized?

Didn't that restaurant move to the abandoned Burger king down the road before it finally dissolved?

Anyone eaten in the new "Mediterranean" rest on the old BK site?

I was actually paid to review that place once when it was Cattleman's...needless to say it did not get a good review.

But I had no idea that the building was historic. I noticed at the time that the stone fireplace and horse memorabilia was authentic, but now wish I had know more about the building. See all the great things you learn on Endangered Durham!

does anyone remember when the place had a huge pile of oyster shells out front? I'm thinking that must have been late 70's or early 80's.

I had no idea. I always thought it was a fairly recent (and relatively boring looking) structure.

Speaking of horses and such, what was the story behind that old stable that used to be on North Duke Street about two blocks north of Carver? There wasn't anything around it, just a big old stable. There was talk of making it a steak house back in the 70s-80s, then it either was torn down or fell down.

I had never been to Cattlemans but I had always assumed it was a decent restaurant since it had been around for like 20-30 years....I wonder which fast food restaurant will replace it.....

I've heard its yet another auto parts store going in there. Can't remember the name of it at the moment.

Cattleman's had an awesome all -you-can-eat Prime Rib Buffet !!

Oreillys Auto Parts

I guess we're lucky it wasnt another check cashing spot or pawn shop.....but why another auto parts stop accross the street from another and next door to yet another....

My family owned the land from the time they operated the horse stables and my grandfather, Charles "Sonny" Haynes, opened the Saddle Club restaurant in the 1950's I think, which later was named the Saddle and Fox. He was an avid horseman and also played football for Duke in the early 1940's and was a highly decorated WWII veteran who fought in Italy where he discovered a love of fine cuisine and Italian wine. He returned and opened the restaurant eventually becoming a well known chef. He served continental cuisine and it was a four star restaurant (before five stars were awarded) and a popular choice for special occasions. Many well known musicians also entertained in the lounge. The restaurant displayed a lot of Duke and hunting memorabilia.

I do not know if the structure with the fireplace dated to the original horse farm, it certainly may have. He later developed some of the adjoining land including the Kroger store, which is now the Advance Auto Parts store. He retired in the 1980's and sold the restaurant which took on a new persona, but it sounds like it still had some of the "western" memorabilia in it from the original restaurant. Although the structure was also significantly modified after he sold it, it is still sad to hear that it and the fireplace with the "SC" were demolished, which I just learned of by seeing your post.

In response to another post - yes, there was a large pile of oyster shells in the parking lot and I remember a publicity photo of my grandfather sitting at a table which was placed on top of all of the oyster shells somehow, in black tie being waited on by Mr. Walter Grandy, who was the maitre'd there for over 30 years.

Hope this information is of some interest. My grandfather loved Durham and Duke University and loved being a chef.

I waited tables at the Saddle and Fox Restaurant in 1971. Charlie Haynes was the owner and operator; Ruby his wife was the hostess, and Mr. Walter Grandy was the maitre'd. We had two good chefs.
The menu was ambitious, with chateaubriand sliced at the table, baked oysters, and flaming deserts. The wine list included French grand cru. New York strip steaks were the best thing on the menu.
Once or twice a year, the dog show people came in and we were very, very busy. Escapees from the Duke diet program would come in and go way off their diet.
Our best waiter was named Marvin, and he was a natural salesman who for a while went to work in Raleigh selling cemetery plots.
Our dishwasher, Clarence, worked really hard and we slipped him a few beers on a busy Saturday night.
Wednesday was Italian night, and we had really good chicken catchitore (sp)
The next best food we had were fresh oysters, steamed, and opened at the bar.
In 1971, Durham County did not have hard liquor sales, but people did order Irish coffee with the coffee and whipped cream on the side.

I remember going there partying and meeting the most interesting people. It was a great place to have a drink..

I certainly remember when it was called the Saddle and Fox and I dined there several times when I was a young man. It was then a charming and very quaint place -- with an elegance and rich patina that can't be manufactured, but can only be acquired through the passage of long years. My memories of it are fond indeed. I was sorry to see it pass into history. It was never the "same place" when it was transformed under new management to "Cattleman's."

Wow!  Didn't know this.

When I moved to Durham in 1986 for grad school, I noticed that there were two restaurants -- Cattlemen's and The Italian Garden Restaurant -- which in effect occupied the same space, just with different doors.  Seemed like a marketing ploy; it was clear they shared the same kitchen.  

Didn't try it until around 1989.  The space was good, the ambiance lacking and the food mediocre at best.  I seemed like some misguided local attempt to emulate a boring, inauthentic chain restaurant.  Never went back.  

Had no idea of its storied past as a better restaurant, not to mention the stables that were on the site.

 

My cousin, John H. Gattis, a public school teacher in Durham played the piano at the Saddle and Fox. Both he and Walter Grandy, the maitre'd at the Saddle and Fox taught at Hillside High in Durham, N C

My father was Thomas Franklin Huckabee or Tom. Your grandfather probably called him "Huck". He grew up with Sonny Haynes in Durham, went to Duke and to war as well. He talked about Sonny and the Saddle Club they built fondly. He claimed to have built the fireplace stone by stone and there is an old photo of him doing just that. Therefore, he was probably the one who put the "S" in backward!!! I had never heard about that or if I had, I did not remember. He died in 1999 in Jacksonville, Florida. I am his daughter by his second wife, Jean Mayo Huckabee. I studied architecture and have an original set of the plans/blueprints for the Saddle Club dated 3-10-46. Mother has often wondered what happened to the restaurant and if it is still open. They went back to Durham for Dad's 50th Duke reunion but that may have been 20 plus years ago. Hate to break the news to mother, but it appears that it may live on in Charles Haynes' personal memorabilia at Chapel Hill. That is where Dad went to flight school just before they sent him into WWII (and my husband played golf for the Tar Heels in the 70s). I can only believe that their reunion in heaven must have been quite something...God is probably still shaking his head! So happy to get this information about the Saddle Club and his beloved friend Sonny Haynes.

I worked at the Saddle and Fox Steak House and Oyster Bar while I was a student at Hillside High School in about 1974. I have very fond memories of the place and I remember Charlie Haynes and his wife, Clarence the dish washer, and Walter Grandy. I was the pot washer and I'll always remember how respectful and polite everyone was. I wanted to visit the place later in life but never did. I miss that place.

The Saddle and Fox (with the oyster shell pile) was cool and elegant enough that we had a prom group meal there in spring of 1977. It was very nice. I guess we had heard of our parents eating there on social occasions...and that was what it was for us!

I remember LOVING that italian restaurant as a kid. Of course, my palate was probably not that refined at the age of 10 or 11.

also, and sorry for the 2nd posting, does anyone remember alexander's restaurant on hillsborough? i want to say that it was right next door to cattleman's and the two buildings were merged to create the italian kitchen/cattleman's duo. i have very, very early memories of heading out hillsborough road to eat at alexander's on special occasions. it was a bit higher-end but nothing terribly fancy. i remember being 3 years old and being terrified of the chandeliers, thinking they would fall on me.

Wow, I remember Mr. Gattis from Hillside High School. I did not know he played piano at the Saddle and Fox. What a interesting piece of history.

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