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The History of the Carolina Coffee Shop

 by Charly Mann


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Nadir Sherwani      7:48 PM Tue 7/12/2011

I have beautiful memories of Byron and Carolina Coffee Shop. As a Chapell Hill native, I grew up loving the food and ambience while eating with my parents, brother, and sisters. The restaurant was a special place for my father, a UNC professor, and my mother Audrey was a good friend of Byron's. Is he still in Chapell Hill? My parents are now deceased and I would love to know so that I might tell him what he and the restaurant meant to us.

TarheelLinda      6:43 PM Sun 3/21/2010

Sunday mornings at the Carolina Coffee Shop...not sure why Byron let us take over a booth...usually near the back...and stay all morning!..I remember seeing Bill Smith and others leaving after their morning shift. I thought Bill must have been a dishwasher (sorry Bill! but that's what you looked like back then, not my idea of a chef), but since he has gone on to fame at Crook's Corner and as a cookbook author, I guess he must have been cooking even then.

Muskie Cates      12:58 PM Mon 1/25/2010

I worked at the CCCS in the early to mid 70s. One notable employee was David Sedaris who was known to have worn a rubber chicken hat while working back in the kitchen.<br \>For the record I also worked at/managed the ZoomZoom, Aurora (the original one), Papagayos, The Fearrington House, and 14 years at Pyewacket as kitchen manager. Ah yes, Chapel Hill Restaurant Roulette!

Ellie Bettle      7:53 PM Sun 1/17/2010

I was a waitress one year - around &#39;73-&#39;74. Was a good friend of Steve Levitas mentioned in David Massengill&#39;s article (I remember David too - and Charlie Secrett - and Gene Medler and Louissss and Carmen Flowers and Kirk DeHaven. How fun to read the comments like George White&#39;s while listening to the music again. It was a great time.<br \>When taking an order for a cinnamon roll, we called them Brolls.

Marge N. Overa      10:12 AM Sun 12/13/2009

In answer to Mr. Scott&#39;s question, in my recollection, although it was not in Mr. Freeman&#39;s nature to &quot;dress to impress&quot;, he was known on occasion, to step next door and buy one of Mr. Julian&#39;s shirts after one of his ballpoint pens had leaked in his shirt pocket. As for Mr. Julian&#39;s routine, many mornings he would come in, pour himself a cup of coffee, grab a couple of packs of crackers and jams off a nearby table and leave with a nod. In many ways, he looked like he lived there.

Martha Hunter      4:10 PM Tue 12/8/2009

I will attest to the fact that in 2009 they have the best Belgian Waffles in Chapel Hill.

Marie Blake      4:11 PM Mon 12/7/2009

Thanks for doing a feature on the Carolina Coffee Shop. Some of the prices are amazing in the past. I only got to enjoy the place in the late 90s, but it lived up to its reputation. Do you know if the current Coffee Shop is as good as the one run by Byron Freeman?

L Guthrie      10:06 AM Mon 12/7/2009

I am one of those Carolina Coffee Shop fans who loved their cinnamon rolls more than I ever did UNC sports. Thanks for paying tribute to the place and man who was responsible for one of Chapel Hill&#39;s greatest treasures.

Jamie Proctor      7:10 PM Sun 12/6/2009

The Carolina Coffee Shop in its prime from the 1960s through the early 1980s<br \>was what really make Franklin Street special.<br \>

Bobby Mercer      10:52 AM Sun 12/6/2009

What a delightful surprise. I found this article this morning as I was reminiscing about Sunday breakfast at the Carolina Coffee Shop in the late 60s. Those really were the days, and it is hard to separate that place from that time.

Betsy Moore      5:15 PM Sat 12/5/2009

I hope the current owners of the Carolina Coffee Shop can recapture the spirit and food quality of Freeman&#39;s reign.

Nora Gaskin Esthimer      1:24 PM Sat 12/5/2009

I found this website when I googled to find the Porthole Hole Recipe, and it&#39;s been fun ever since--right, Charly? I&#39;m thrilled to know the secret to the Coffee Shop Cinnamon Rolls and will be making those quick.

Dominic Scott      11:25 AM Sat 12/5/2009

I thought the Carolina Coffee Shop and their neighbor, Julian&#39;s, were the two classy businesses in Chapel Hill. Did Maurice Julian eat often at the Coffee Shop, and did Freeman buy much of his wardrobe at Julian&#39;s?

George White      8:49 AM Sat 12/5/2009

Forty years after graduating from UNC, one thing endures; the sophistication of the staff and patrons and the sublime pleasure of dining at the Carolina Coffee Shop.

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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


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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.



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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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