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Ramshead Rathskeller Returns from the Dead!

by Charly Mann


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Lucy      3:47 PM Tue 11/16/2010

PLEASE.... bring back the cheese-laden lasagna, spaghetti, burgers, salad and HUGE basket of garlic bread!! Yes, the Thousand Island was great even though the salad was pretty much chopped iceberg. I loved the booths &amp; dark dungeon-like &#39;holes&#39; to sit and the music was good too. <br \><br \>I do want the RAT to re-open. I just hope the old atmosphere will be close to the original.

Nicole      2:13 PM Tue 10/19/2010

Can&#39;t wait for The Rat to reopen. I was so sad to find it closed when I visited Franklin Street two years ago. I will definitely be there on opening day!

DIANE FOUNTAIN      1:04 PM Tue 10/5/2010

You wonderful people have no idea how much this means to hear such encouraging words. I am going to re-open the Rat just like the original days, with a little kicking up...new kitchen, big screens, same menu plus a few added goodies..even want to bring back some of the old staff if I can find them! Any help would be appreciated! Your opinion and thoughts matter, as it is all about you. If you have any menues, recipies, or more, please let me know. Thanks for your encouragement, and I am counting on your patronage!!!<br \>Diane

Alan J.      5:56 PM Tue 9/28/2010

And of course the mini pitchers of Sweet Tea and the garlic bread and the sizzling Gamblers...bring it all back..and hopefully some of the waiters...

Alan J.      5:55 PM Tue 9/28/2010

Please please bring back the old menu...especially the Spaghetti and Lasagna...

Alan J.      5:53 PM Tue 9/28/2010

My friends and I are already planning a reunion trip back to CH once the Rat Reopens...we will eat there every night that weekend! I&#39;m coming up from Florida...the Rat is timeless...

Debi Jacobs      7:50 AM Sun 9/5/2010

How cool is that!<br \>I loved the RAT!<br \>The first place I ever ate where they served a meal that made NOISE! Them skillets were hot and sizzzzzzzzzzzzzzzled...............<br \>Can&#39;t wait to take my hubby to the place where I had LOTS of dates!!!

F. Cummings      4:26 PM Wed 9/1/2010

What great news. I am glad you are covering current events in Chapel Hill that relate to preserving the best in the town.

Trish Fields Neubert      3:13 PM Sun 8/29/2010


Dan Heath      9:02 PM Sat 8/28/2010

I understand the new owners have most of the fixtures and tables from the old RAT, so now all they have to do is duplicate the food.<br \><br \>I use to go to the RAT a lot in the 1960s and the clientele included a lot of local downtown merchants and their employees. I have not lived in Chapel Hill in decades, but when I visit downtown it appears to me there are just not the right mix of retail establishments on Franklin Street that would have a lot of their owners and employees eating there anymore.

David Brown      4:44 PM Fri 8/27/2010

Thank God the Rat is going to reopen! PLEASE tell me they&#39;re going to have the same exact menu as before, and don&#39;t go the &quot;fancy route&quot; like so many others. I&#39;ve been dying for some ice-cold Thousand Island dressing, some manicotti with those peas on the side and some garlic bread dripping with butter.....mmmmmmmmmmmm.....can&#39;t wait!

Francie      10:20 AM Fri 8/27/2010

Great news!!<br \>Hope they&#39;ll make that great pizza with GREEN olives!<br \>I&#39;ll make it over to Chapel Hill for that

Kay Paterson      9:35 AM Fri 8/27/2010

While downtown businesses like The Carolina Coffee Shop, The Varsity Theater, and Julian&#39;s have reemerged with new management, they have also changed their character so much that they might as well just be renamed something else. The Rathskeller is probably our last hope that one of these institutions can come back in much the same form as before. I think it was poor management that doomed the previous RAT. If the new place is well run and they bring back the old favorites, I think it is our responsibility as a community to regularly patronize this business to ensure its long time survival.

Jim Baucom      8:37 AM Fri 8/27/2010

I was there August 22, 1963 when the Rat burned. My 11th birthday was the next day but we went a day early because it seems my older brother Walt had a date on the 23rd. We were in the room next to where they cooked the bread at the glass window. Heard fire extingwichers, then someone called out to evacuate. Several students broke the locked door going out from the room next to the glass window. People were leaving with pizza and beer. We had to wait a long time as Frankin was blocked with fire trucks. Dad and I went back a day or so later...Dad was offering to pay his bill. They said he was the only person to come back. No charge.<br \><br \>The Rat had the best mushroom and beefburger pizza with white cheeze anywhere. So glad reopened.

Richard Ellington      11:33 PM Thu 8/26/2010

Charly, the iced tea was good but the hard cider was ice cold and FANTASTIC!!<br \><br \>In the 1960s, you could take a date out to eat at the Rat and go to a movie for under $10. <br \><br \>- Richard<br \>

Neal F. Rattican      8:31 PM Thu 8/26/2010

Charly, you just made my day, man! Thanks. This is wonderful news! I think I know where they may be able to get some of the recipes for the original dishes, if the new owners don&#39;t already have them.<br \><br \>My understanding was that those who took over the immediate past incarnation fired all the old heads and changed most of if not all of the menu. No wonder it failed.<br \><br \>Thanks again. Can&#39;t wait to spread the news.

Trish Fields Neubert      7:32 PM Thu 8/26/2010

Yes, who has undertaken this fourth &quot;Rat&quot; and can I get a reservation?<br \><br \>(Someone told me, not too long ago, that one could order &quot;the Gambler&quot; at a small cafe on the main street in Pittsboro...two letters...The ? &amp; ? Cafe<br \><br \>Oh, just looked it up - S &amp; T Soda Shoppe. My mom and I just drove down to Pittsboro and had dinner there - yes, you guessed it - we ordered the Gambler)<br \><br \>Plus the apple cider served in frosted mugs, was it &quot;alcoholic”? Yes, the perfect junior high &quot;date&quot; establishment.<br \><br \>Also the best place to meet up with your classmates on &quot;snow days&quot;.

Dave Kistler      6:42 PM Thu 8/26/2010

Damn, Charly, I live right here and didn&#39;t know about this. Where did you get your info?<br \><br \>Anyway, the pic of the pizza. As I remember, the slices were rectangular in shape?<br \><br \>One of my favorite places to go while growing up in CH was the Rat. My favorite dish there was the Gambler. I have sorely missed the Gambler and the Rat since it’s closing. How delighted I was to discover a restaurant that had replicated the Gambler! If you happen to be in Pittsboro, stop by S&amp;T’s Soda Shoppe, downtown. They have the Gambler just as it looked, tasted and smelled (loved that odor) at the Rat. They haven’t quite got the salad dressing down pat, but it’s pretty close. And yes, as far as I’m concerned, the Rat had the best pizza in CH.<br \><br \><br \>Hope you will join us for our CHHS Reunion in September. Would like to meet you in person.<br \><br \>Dave<br \>

Jane Mitchell      6:34 PM Thu 8/26/2010

How fun is that? I used to love that place~!

Michael P.      6:29 PM Thu 8/26/2010

Thanks for the info.<br \><br \>Have enjoyed several articles especially one on Town and Campus where I was the first high school aged male to work there.<br \><br \>Hope you are doing well.<br \><br \>Mike

Brook Barnes Foltz      6:02 PM Thu 8/26/2010

I can&#39;t believe nobody has mentioned those hamburgers!!!! Barely cooked but really good anyway due to the Rat&#39;s magic seasoning...and who knew then that you weren&#39;t supposed to eat raw hamburger? The Rat just had that magic touch and even today I think about them when I see that someone hasn&#39;t completely cooked their hamburgers.<br \><br \>I had my very first date at The Rat in the third grade with the author of this article, Charly Mann himself. Thanks for the update, Charly! Keep up the good writing. We miss you.

richard woodell      6:00 PM Thu 8/26/2010

Best pizza ever!<br \><br \>It was Christmas vacation in 1962. I was home from boarding school<br \>for the holidays, and my dad took us out to the &quot;RAT&quot; on a cold December<br \>night. That was almost 48 years ago.<br \><br \>Never had a pizza that good since then!

Hal      4:31 PM Thu 8/26/2010

Maybe they&#39;ll have the roast beef sandwich...shame Danzigers isn&#39;t upstairs.

Ben      4:07 PM Thu 8/26/2010

Hope some of the old waiters are still around. or train the new ones to carry 10 mugs at one time.

Nancy Preston Cherry      3:44 PM Thu 8/26/2010

Great news! A BIG time for me and my girlfriends in jr. high was to go shopping at Town and Campus and have lunch at The Rat. Sweet tea and cheese pizza. I can taste it now!

Larry Howell      3:20 PM Thu 8/26/2010

What great news!! I thought it was a sin that the Rat closed because of financial mismanagement; it was one of the few remaining institutions left. Now we have the Varsity theatre reopening along with the Rat. Maybe we can also bring back the campus protests, &quot;Jesse Helms&#39; sandwiches&quot;, Jubilee weekend, etc. Now I can finish clogging up those arteries I started on at UNC with those god-awful good greasy gamblers. I also loved the pizza and the lasagna. Too bad I was not there with the free beer; just can&#39;t have it all can we?? GO HEELS!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!<br \>Larry class of 1970

Stephen Jenner      3:11 PM Thu 8/26/2010

I remember going to the Rat from the mid/late sixties up until I left for college. It was one of my favorite places, one of the places that I will always associate with my childhood and Chapel Hill. One memory in particular, on my 16th birthday, the waiter put a gift box in front of me. It contained a key ring, a symbol of my new found freedom. One of the many memories.

Jim Norwood      2:57 PM Thu 8/26/2010

Too good to be true. It will be difficult in this day and age to find the quality of staff they had and all the ingredients the Rat used. If they can get this right I promise to be a very loyal customer

Stephen      2:13 PM Thu 8/26/2010

Free booze? No wonder it was an early hit. ;)<br \><br \>I just remember going there and getting the gambler...which was the most greasy piece of meat I&#39;ve ever eaten. Or the lasagna....which was essentially just piping hot cheese in a bowl with a smattering of tomato sauce. Not bad...but very different those two items. And then side items like peas (!)...with the lasagna lol.<br \><br \>Never had the pizza.

Nora      1:58 PM Thu 8/26/2010

Miraculous! Any details about who is reopening it?

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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.

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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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