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Chapel Hill's Favorite Restaurants

by Charly Mann

Over the last several months I have enjoyed meeting with a large number of former Chapel Hillians. Invariably our conversations would turn to their most cherished culinary delights of the town. Among their favorites were The Ramshead Rathskeller, La Residence, Harry’sThe House of Chu, Ye Old Waffle Shop, The Dairy Bar, Landlubber’s Seafood, and The Poet’s Corner. Only the Waffle Shop and La Residence remain among these revered institutions, though there is some chance The Rathskeller may someday reopen (the planned re-opening has been pushed back several times and the "new" owner has not replied to my recent inquires about the project's status). I have already written articles on the Rat and Harry's for Chapel Hill Memories, and plan to do an in depth one on La Residence in the future, but to rekindle your appetite here is a visual taste tribute to all of these restaurants.

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Comments:

Joan Gibson      8:15 PM Wed 12/7/2011

I must admit that the Zoom Zoom was my favorite when a grad student in botany from fall 1966 to spring 1969. And the Gambler it was. I came to love cheesecake at the Zoom and Rat and it spoiled me for any other cheesecake. As others, I've been looking for a likely recipe ever since. Recently, I found a candidate in a "Lost Desserts" book in a discount shop and copied the recipe. It is Zausner's Creme Fraiche Cheesecake, described as "light and airy". They also gave the recipe for creme fraiche which I had made before. There is no crust and it has lemon and a bit of orange zest and a WHOLE lot of cream cheese plus the quart of creme fraiche currently residing in my refrigerator. I am making the 10" cake for my DAR chapter's Christmas luncheon at my home on Sat.
 

vwlinney      6:55 PM Sun 6/19/2011

My husband was told by Harry Macklin that he made up the sandwich names while on his honeymoon. Indeed he listed a Honeymoon sandwich--lettuce alone.

 

William Jackson      3:28 PM Wed 6/15/2011

Do you think there is any chance the RAT will really reopen? What I hear through the grapevine is not good. I was told little if any work has been done on the place, and that the "new" owners have had financial problems with their past restaurant businesses.
 

Ron Webster      12:58 PM Tue 6/14/2011

I was a student at UNC from 1954 to 1959 and I fondly recall the Dairy Bar. During my time at Carolina only the Pine Room in the basement of Lenoir Hall rivaled the Dairy Bar in popularity among students for good and affordable food.
 

Bill A      4:33 PM Mon 6/13/2011

We all had our favorites at the Rathskeller which, in addition to the largely Bohemian atmosphere, made each dining/drinking experience special. I can still taste the house salad dressing - perhaps there was only one choice! - that was a hybrid version of Russian, as I recall. Great tang to it!

While I know that a number of good restaurants have in the past and do today call Chapel Hill home, didn't realize it had become known as " ... the fine dining capital of the South". Guess I'd better make Orange County one of my stops when back in NC this September!

Thanks for fanning the memories, Charly.
 

Charly Mann      1:31 PM Mon 6/13/2011

Thanks Rob. I went back and checked my dates and this one is indeed from 1995 as the prices also indicate. I've got eleven other menus from the RAT going back to 1955. In 1960 the price of single THE GAMBLER was $1.85!
 

Bob Morrow      1:23 PM Mon 6/13/2011

The Rat menu shown above could not possibly be from 1985. The BBQ plate did not debut on the menu until mid 1993, and was sold only as a Friday afternoon special up until that point. This menu was used beginning in the summer of 1995 (the time at which I began working there) when a price increase was instituted after graduation that year. I would have to see the remainder of the menu to determine its date more precisely.
 

Carolyn Norwood      9:44 AM Mon 6/13/2011

I loved the House of Chu. I almost always got their incredible Shrimp with Snow Peas or Mu Shu chicken. I believe the restaurant was owned by a man who also worked at UNC and that all his family worked in some capacity at the restaurant. I recall the place was always crowded. Do you know why they went out of business, and what became of the family?
 

George Hanson      4:55 PM Sun 6/12/2011

What great memories! Thanks for honoring Poet's Corner, it was my favorite restaurant on "The Hill". Do you recall what restaurant took over their location when they left. As I remember they kept most of their furniture and also served an excellent cuisine.
 

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Bite Sized Facts Link



Chapel Hill is located on a hill whose only distinguishing feature in the 18th century was a small chapel on top called New Hope Chapel. This church was built in 1752 and is currently the location of The Carolina Inn. The town was founded in 1819, and chartered in 1851.

 

 

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.

-- Charles Kuralt

 

 

Dark Side of the Hill -- Pink Floyd, the creators of the most popular album in history, Dark Side of the Moon, took the second half of their name from Floyd Council, a Chapel Hill native, and great blues singer and guitarist. He once belonged to a group called "The Chapel Hillbillies".

 

 

Check out Charly Mann's other website:
Oklahoma Birds and Butterflies

http://oklahomabirdsandbutterflies.com

 



We need your help. Send your submissions, ideas, photos, and questions to CHMemories@gmail.com.

 

 

 

 

There would probably be no Chapel Hill if the University of North Carolina Board of Trustees in 1793 had not chosen land across from New Hope Chapel for the location of the university. By 1800 there were about 100 people living in thirty houses surrounding the campus.

 

 

The University North Carolina's first student was Hinton James, who enrolled in February, 1795. There is now a dormitory on the campus named in his honor.

 

 

 

 

The University of North Carolina was closed from 1870 to 1875 because of lack of state funding.

 

 

 

 

William Ackland left his art collection and $1.25 million to Duke University in 1940 on the condition that he would be buried in the art museum that the University was to build with his bequest. Duke rejected this condition even though members of the Duke Family are buried in Duke Chapel. What followed was a long and acrimonious legal battle between Ackland relatives who now wanted the inheritance, Rollins College, and the University of North Carolina, each attempting to receive the funds. The case went all the way to the United States Supreme Court, and in 1949 UNC was awarded the money for the museum. Ackland is buried near the museum's entrance. When the museum first opened, in the early sixties, there were rumors that his remains were leaking out of the mausoleum.

 

 

The official name of the Arboretum on the University of North Carolina campus is the Coker Arboretum. It is named after Dr. William Cocker, the University's first botany professor. It occupies a little more than five acres. It was founded in 1903.

 

 

Chapel Hill's main street has always been called Franklin Street. It was named after Benjamin Franklin in the early 1790s.

 

 



We need your help. Send your submissions, ideas, photos, and questions to CHMemories@gmail.com.

 

 

Chapel Hill High School and Chapel Hill Junior High were on Franklin Street in the same location as University Square until the mid 1960s.

 

 

The Colonial Drug Store at 450 West Franklin Street was owned and operated by John Carswell. It was famous for a fresh-squeezed carbonated orange beverage called a "Big O". In the early 1970s, I managed the Record and Tape Center next door, and must have had over 100 of those drinks. The Colonial Drug Store closed in 1996.

 

 

Sutton's Drugstore, which opened in 1923, has one of the last soda fountains in the South. It is one of the few businesses remaining on Franklin Street that was in operation when I was growing up in the 1950s.

 

 

Future President Gerald Ford lived in Chapel Hill twice. First when he was 24, in 1938, he took a law couse in summer school at UNC. He lived in the Carr Building, which was a law school dormitory. At the same time, Richard Nixon, the man he served under as Vice President, was attending law school at Duke. In 1942, Ford returned to Chapel Hill to attend the U.S. Navy's Pre-Flight School training program. He lived in a rental house on Hidden Hills Drive.

 

 

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