by Charly Mann
In 1936 Edward Danziger was 43 years old and a highly successful confectioner in Vienna, Austria, and was known as the "Candy King". He was also a Jew and he saw the storm clouds of Adolph Hitler in neighboring Germany. He sought a way out of Austria for himself and his family through a Quaker group in the United States. They brought the Danzigers to New York City where he quickly became one of the city's most respected candy makers.
Eleanor Roosevelt actually had dinner at Danziger's on her visits to Chapel Hill
In 1939 Dudley DeWitt Carroll, the first dean of the UNC School of Commerce (later to become the School of Business), who was also a Quaker, convinced Danziger he should relocate to either Durham or Chapel Hill, North Carolina. Danziger looked at both towns and concluded he could make more money in Durham, but that owning a business in Chapel Hill would give him more pleasure.
Edward Danziger especially loved that his restaurant was a favorite spot for UNC Chapel Hill couples to go to on a date in the 1950s
Chapel Hill's first upscale Coffee Bar, Danziger's Candy Shop established 1939
On Sept. 12, 1939 Danziger opened his new business Danziger's Candy Shop at 155 East Franklin Street in the location that had been Gooch's Restaurant. Over the years the business evolved into a restaurant and then a gift shop. By the early 1950's it had become Danziger's Old World Restaurant which was modeled on a tavern from Gudesberg, Austria where Danziger had often taken girlfriends in his youth.
Some of the favorite menu items from Danziger's Candy Shop and Restaurant Chapel Hill
He said the purpose of the restaurant was to serve good food and be a place where you could make good friends. It was also probably the first restaurant in North Carolina to have something we now call atmosphere. Much of that atmosphere came from the many photos on the wall. For the most part the pictures were of customers of the restaurant, but to have your photo hung you had to have to done some great work in your field. While many Chapel Hill businesses now display photographs of local celebrities and sports stars, Danziger's walls were covered with pictures of the best writers, professors, and poets of Chapel Hill. There were some famous people on the wall like Eleanor Roosevelt, the black opera singer Marian Anderson, and opera tenor Jan Peerce, but each of these people had actually eaten at Danziger's.
"Papa D" Danziger in the window of his restaurant and gift shop on Franklin Steet in Chapel Hill 1955
Above the pictures were what Danziger called his wall of mottos, which the public referred to as the quotation wall. He believed the most important thing you can learn in life is a foreign language and his mottos were written in fourteen different languages. He offered 10 pounds of candy to any person who could translate all 14 quotes, but only one person, a UNC professor ever did. Among his mottos on the wall were, "the beauty of your home is not represented by the walls, but by the cooking" which was in Russian; "he who doesn't appreciate coffee, doesn't know how to live," which was in Turkish, and in Greek "recognize yourself".
Fancy dinner and a show for two at Danziger's Old World Restaurant March 1953 for $2.75
Throughout the 1950s and early 60s Chapel Hillians made a point of taking their out of town friends and relations to Danziger's Old World Restaurant so they could see what made Chapel Hill so extraordinary and unique. It was also where you went to see friends and have great food.
At this time Danziger was also probably the most loved businessman on Franklin Street and was known affectionately by almost all his customers as "Papa D." Danziger said, "I like people. I like to talk to people. I like people to talk to me." He especially loved female people. He was fond of saying; "there are half as many good men as women - and no man in history did anything worthwhile unless there was a woman behind him."
Edward "Papa" Danziger's gravestone Chapel Hill cemeteryComment
What is it that binds us to this place as to no other? It is not the well or the bell or the stone walls. or the crisp October nights. No, our love for this place is based upon the fact that it is as it was meant to be, The University of the People.