It was a few months ago, when I was still regularly in Durham, that I saw the sign. Not in a retro 90s way, but in a very literal way.
I was walking to the Y with Annabel when we passed it.
“Riverside Dining, 8 Minutes Away” it read.
“Riverside?” I scrunched my face up.
I paused to make sure I wasn’t having some crazy blonde moment, confirmed it, then pointed out the obvious.
“There aren’t any rivers around here.”
“I wonder if they’re talking about that fake river,” Annabel pondered. “The one over near the baseball field.”
“There’s no way,” I scoffed. “That’s a water fountain. There’s no way someone would call that a river.”
Apparently, there is. My supervisor John (or maybe it was our copywriter Alyson) confirmed later that the “riverside” the sign referred to, WAS indeed the cement water feature downtown at American Tobacco.
It’s pictured below, though I’m pretty sure it’s no longer under construction.
How incredibly misleading is that?
Still, people flock to the not river to enjoy fake riverside dining alongside Tyler’s Taproom, as well as NC Public Radio WUNC 91.5 and Bronto’s headquarters. I myself have flocked there for events, such as the one where I got to take a picture with hipster themed party accessories.
When you’re not expected to believe it’s a river, the fountain and the surrounding American Tobacco Campus area is actually quite nice.
You can grab some pizza at Mellow Mushroom, drink beers at the previously mentioned Tyler’s Taproom, or catch a baseball game. And by catch a baseball game, I mean go drink overpriced beers at the stadium while the Durham Bulls play in the background.