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The Rat (Ramshead Rathskeller)

by Charly Mann

The History of the Rathskeller, The Rat, Amber Alley, Chapel Hill, NC

The Rat in 1963 (burgundy was a popular color than year)

 Map of the Ram's Head Rathskeller, Chapel Hill, NC

The Ram's Head Rathskeller, better known as “The Rat” opened in 1948 by Ted Danziger. For much of its history there were long lines in Amber Alley waiting for seating at peak lunch and dinner hours. The Rat had everything, a variety of great food, impecable service, and an atmosphere of romance, and Chapel Hill tradition.

Eating the Rat's famous Apple Pie and Ice Cream, Ratskeller, Chapel Hill, NC
The Rat was the first of at least four incredible restaurants owned and operated by Danziger, including The Ranch House, the Zoom Zoom, and the Villa Teo. The Rat was located in what was originally a dilapidated basement under a successful gift and candy store owned by Ted’s parents, called DANZIGER’S. That business was started in 1939, and occupied the location that had been Gooch's Restaurant. The Rat’s food was incredible. They were famous for an array of specialties including their chewy steak called The Gambler, which was served on a sizzling iron plate. They also had the first, and many say the best, pizza in Chapel Hill, as well as incredible lasagna. Their most popular drink was not beer, but the sweetest ice tea you can imagine, served in large pitchers. Their signature desert was  great apple pie which one could watch warming from a window in Amber Alley. It was usually served with cheese or vanilla ice cream.

The Gambler steak and menu of the Ram's Head Ratskeller, Franklin Street, Chapel Hill, NC

The Rat in 1950, then only two years old

Ted oversaw The Rat and The Ranch House until he died in 1965. His wife Bibi continued and expanded the Danziger Empire, while maintaining the standards Ted had established. Unfortunately neither of their sons, Avery or Randy seemed to have restaurant genes, and after Bibi’s death the restaurant fortunes declined until it closed in 2008.

I started going to The Rat when I was about five, and continued doing so as often as I could during the next fifty plus years. I had my first date there when I was in the fourth grade with Brook Barnes, and in the sixth grade convinced Terry Boyce to go there with me. Remarkably the wait staff never seemed to change or age, and included great men like Kenny Mann Sr., Ulysses Cozart, and Jim Cotton. 

Pizza at the Rat, Chapel Hill, NC, Franklin Street, The Ratskeller



richard kushinsky      2:48 PM Wed 4/15/2015

&#39;51 carolina, at the restaurant upstairs and in the cellar we had the Vienese coffee mit schlag and the 63 oz. pitchers of beer downstairs, but the best was going to the Ranch House on Sunday nights with a bunch of my &#39;brothers&#39; as our house did not serve dinner, anmd having a great steak and garlic bread. then to the movies, always felt sorry for others sutting near us as blue waves of garlic aroma surrounded us and blossomed the air for rows nearby great memories of all 3 places.<br \>

richard kushinsky      2:47 PM Wed 4/15/2015

&#39;51 carolina, at the restaurant upstairs and in the cellar we had the Vienese coffee mit schlag and the 63 oz. pitchers of beer downstairs, but the best was going to the Ranch House on Sunday nights with a bunch of my &#39;brothers&#39; as our house did not serve dinner, anmd having a great steak and garlic bread. then to the movies, always felt sorry for others sutting near us as blue waves of garlic aroma surrounded us and blossomed the air for rows nearby great memories of all 3 places.<br \>

The doc      3:50 PM Thu 3/26/2015

&quot;Cliff&quot; was Cliff Stone. His day job was stockroom manager and general indispensible-man-of-all-work at the pharmacy school. He moonlighted at the Rat, and was one of the most charming and helpful people in town. Always a smile. Cliff was one of the reasons UNC was UNC.

Dana McCall      2:54 PM Sat 2/4/2012

Tuesday night was All-You-Can-Eat Spaghetti night, so a buddy and I went up there to take it on. The Rat&#39;s spaghetti came out on a sizzling platter, and I challenge any normal person to eat one whole platter. That night my buddy and I polished off 1.5 platters each. We were so full we had to take the U bus to get back to Carmichael. We were miserable and content!<br \><br \>My favorite, though, was the Double Gambler!! The onions sizzling in that steak fat were delicious.

Sara Nesbitt      5:09 PM Fri 11/18/2011

I&#39;m so glad to see the Rat&#39;s reopened! I was heartbroken to learn that the state had closed it down. It just seemed like the ultimate in a series of disappointments, the first being when Mr. Mann retired and the beef stroganoff began to taste just like I make at home (which is good) - as opposed to the gastronomic bliss of Mr. Mann&#39;s (which is far superior).<br \><br \>The first time I ate there was my junior year of high school. Our teacher was introducing us to &quot;real&quot; research and, being a UNC alumna herself, planned an afternoon field trip to Chapel Hill, instead of NC State, which was much closer. After our work was done, she led all 25 of us to the Rat where I experienced Kenny Mann&#39;s beef stroganoff for the first time - and fell in love with it.<br \><br \>Years later, my husband and I ate there several times, both as a dating couple and as marriage partners. The last time we ate there was our first date after our older daughter was born in 2003. We went to see &quot;The Star of Bethlehem&quot; and ate dinner at the Rat. We haven&#39;t been back since, but now that it&#39;s reopened, we&#39;ll try it again the next time we&#39;re back home.

james cotton jr      8:36 AM Sun 9/11/2011

glad to see it come back. my father made the apple pies and the cheesecake there. i have mastered the cheesecake and added my on twust to them with alot of flavors.

Michael Walker      9:51 AM Wed 6/1/2011

A friend of mine in Sanford tole me that the Rat will be reopening. Is that true and if so, when will it reopen. I need a tripple gambler.

Bob Morrow      2:29 PM Tue 4/26/2011

I worked here for 7 years from 1995 to 2002. The return of it excites no one more than me. Can someone who is in Chapel Hill give me an update on the renovation process? I simply cannot wait to return to work.

Mary Burnette      9:16 PM Sat 4/16/2011

Had my first &quot;legal&quot; beer at the Rat...

Pat      5:02 PM Thu 10/28/2010

I confess! I still have one of those little metal plates on which they served the apple pie. Can I really have taken it (yes) and kept it for 40 years through many moves up and down the East Coast (yes again!) if the Rat reopens I will return it.

Bob Dunham      5:18 PM Sat 10/23/2010

In December of &#39;73 (my first year in North Carolina) my boss subbed himself and me out to the Danzigers, his landlords, to help put together their annual Christmas store. It was a long, long day -- unwrapping ornaments and baubles and such, tying on price tags and doing other such mindless work -- with a couple of Danziger employees (incl. Kay Kiser&#39;s daughters) and a few family members (Randy, Avery and Bebi). <br \> About mid-afternoon, bored and aching from the tedious and menial work, I groused out loud: &quot;Eight years of college education and this is the best work I can get?!&quot; <br \> Bebi Danziger, our boss for the day, laughed and took a little poll. Turns out that every one of us in that tiny Franklin Street store -- probably 8 or 9 irritable souls -- had at least a bachelors degree. Most had a masters too. That was pure Chapel Hill. <br \> As I recall, the 1970 Census found that 58% of adults in Chapel Hill had Masters degrees. By stark contrast, the same Census found that 58% of adults in Chatham County (my home for the next 13 years) lacked a high school diploma. That was then...

John Whitehurst      9:29 PM Sun 8/29/2010

Staying in Vance dorm across the street from Post Office was just too tempting.I must have eaten at the &quot;Rat&quot;and &quot;Zoom-Zoom&quot; at least 500 times between 1963-1967.They had the best apple cider and apple pie I ever tasted.I never have found anything like it in traveling around the world the past 45 years.I was fortunate to be so close to all the charming pubs and restaurants of those golden years on Franklin St. I ate at the &quot;Rat&quot; about 10 yrs. ago and it seemed all the waiters hadn&#39;t aged a bit.I guess the secret is that they always seemed to be happy and felt they all were co-owners of business.Some even remembered my name! I remember Coach Smith would always bring his recruits down to the &quot;Rat&quot; in the spring.I noticed their double &quot;gamblers&quot; looked twice as thick as the ones I ordered.No wonder he was such a great recruiter! Can&#39;t believe it has finally closed.It should be designated a national shrine.Even President Kennedy sneaked in their somehow and found a booth in&quot; cave&quot;with the secret service all around him.I don&#39;t think hardly anyone knew he was there except &quot;Thin Man&quot;and me.I have a picture to prove it as he exited into back of Amber Alley.Those were the days!

Wendy Phifer Outen      1:02 AM Sun 7/25/2010

I am heart-broken. What happened to Doug?

Mark      1:51 PM Sat 7/24/2010

Go to youwereheretees.com to buy The Rat tee shirt, with the original logo. Also see Hectors, The Porthole, and many others.

Charly Mann      12:41 PM Fri 7/9/2010

Greetings Steve, <br \> <br \>In the early 1980s I indeed took off about six years from the music business. During that time I was a Business Computer Programming Professor at Durham Community College, and sub-sequentially co-founded SoftTouch Computer Systems and ComputerTyme. I also worked for awhile as head of marketing for Pattern Analytics (OCR software). <br \> <br \>I have been back in the music industry in one form of the other since then in Austin, Texas and Oklahoma. <br \>I also do several other websites including: <br \> <br \>http://www.informzoo.com/ <br \>http://oklahomabirdsandbutterflies.com/ <br \>http://appleinvesting.com/ <br \> <br \>Charly <br \> <br \>

Steve Hait      9:49 AM Fri 7/9/2010

Hey, Charlie - did you used to teach at Durham Tech by any chance? You look like the guy who first taught me assembly back in the day.

Alan J.      6:56 AM Tue 6/29/2010

I only recently heard about the Rat closing, being down in Florida now. It kind of bothers me that the N.C. Dept. of Revenue in their thirst for quick cash to subsidize all the public housing and other wasteful spending swooped in so quickly to kill a business that was around for 60 years, and was only behind on 1 out 60 of those years&#39; taxes. No consideration was given for longevity, historical significance, or that they had employed the same people for decades? Obviously some bureaucrat didn&#39;t give a fuck about any of that, he just wanted to hit his numbers. No wonder Chapel Hillers hate Raleigh...<br \><br \>The only thing that ever gave me pause about the awesome old Rat, was that it seemed like a fire trap... Maybe someone could redo or build a newer safer one...I heard some business owners on Franklin Street bought all the old booths and tables...<br \><br \>They used to have these signed drum sticks behind the glass counter where you paid. The drum stick had been signed by numerous rock supergroups that played at the Dean Smith Center. There was a manager named Charlie, who moonlighted doing security for concerts. He often brought in rock stars to eat there. My friends and I were all Rat regulars (Lasagna, Spaghetti, and Tea), and Charlie to show us his appreciation got us all gigs doing security for concerts like Sting and Pink Floyd. Thanks to the Rat I got to stand in the tent behind the mixing board for a Pink Floyd outdoor concert attended by 80,000 people, plus I got a free T-shirt that said &quot;Security&quot;!<br \><br \>Even years later, whenever I went back, the same waiters took our order, and the bread, salad, and pitcher of iced tea arrived lightning fast. The spaghetti would land on the table in a spectacular show of steam and sizzle, in the style of their infamous &quot;Gambler&quot; steak. <br \><br \> I had more than a few memorable dates there too! And when I broke up with my longtime college girlfriend, my pals took me down to the Rat for a round of beers to try to cheer me up...<br \><br \>The Rat was a one-of-a-kind sort of a place, that has now drifted into legend...

Edwms8      10:43 AM Wed 6/2/2010

I have some great memories of the Rathskeller. I started at UNC in the Fall of 1948, I enjoyed walking down Franklin Street and especially enjoyed stopping at what I recall as Danziger&#39;s Vienna Coffee Shop, which some recall as a candy shop. I met and started dating Papa Danziger&#39;s niece, Paula von Szalatny, newly arrived from Austria. In September 1948, Papa and his oldest son, Ted Danziger, finished building the RamsHead Rathskeller, on Amber Alley, just off (and below) Franklin Street. I was friendly with Papa, who approved of my dating Paula because I seemed like a serious young man, just out of the Army. I was invited to the opening party at the Rat, with Paula. But we were also included at a pre-opening party a day or two before the formal opening. Both were, for me, memorable events. During my years at UNC (1948-52 and 1953-54), I visited the Rat regularly, though I stopped dating Paula. I recently learned that, sadly, she died several years ago. When I returned to Chapel Hill - Carrboro after my retirement from the Foreign Service in 1981, I started eating at the Rat at least weekly. I was saddened to see it close year-before-last. I could hardly believe that nobody in Chapel Hill was willing/able to save this icon from disappearing from the Chapel Hill scene. I don&#39;t know what happened to the wooden tables when it closed, but my name is carved on one of them.

Brook Barnes Foltz      12:25 AM Mon 3/29/2010

Thanks for adding me in your article, Charly. Who else had a real date in the 4th grade? And to the Rat and a movie, no less! It&#39;s somethig I&#39;ve never forgotten. <br \><br \>The other fact about The Rat that I have never forgotten was the degree to which they did not cook their hamburgers. Back then, we knew nothing about the necessity of cooking hambergers until they were well done. The sauce on them was so good, it masked the rareness of the burgers and we all just ate until they were gone!<br \><br \>The last time I ate there, my hamburger must have weighed three forths of a pound, and it seemed to have been cooked by the heat lamp used for Mr. J! I ate down a forth of an inch all the way around and then just put it down.<br \><br \>During the ten years we lived in Chapel Hill, our other favorite family restaurants were The Porthole Restaurant, The Pines Restaurant, and The Carolina Inn for special occasions.<br \><br \>Living in houses all around that neighborhood made it easy to go to The Pines. Whenever we went, my mother always took a small brown paper bag with her. It never failed. We would sit down and out of the bag would come the REAL butter and the Catalina salad dressing. No bottled French dressing or margarine for her.<br \>My sister Ricky and I were always embarrassed by that little brown bag, but she was a character and that was that! <br \><br \>Being from Chapel Hill is a point of pride and this website does the town and it&#39;s residents great justice. Our appreciation for all your work grows with each story, Charly.

Bob Isenhower      4:28 PM Wed 3/24/2010

I worked for a number of years at the Rat (and the Zoom). At the Rathskeller, one of the lunch regulars was a local clothing merchant, whose name I won&#39;t use here, but we can call him Mr. J. Every lunch, Monday-Saturday, Mr. J ate at the Rat and always ordered the Roast Beef Sandwich. And everyday, as soon as his sandwich was served, he would call his waiter over and tell him, &quot;It isn&#39;t done enough -- take it back and cook it some more.&quot; And every day the waiter would take the sandwich back to the kitchen, and yell to Willie (or Pop or Kenny), &quot;This RB is for Mr. J. He wants it more well done.&quot; The sandwich would sit under the heat lamp in the kitchen window for 2-3 minutes; at which point, the waiter would pick up the same sandwich, to which NOTHING had been done, return it to Mr. J and go about his business. Mr. J always seemed most pleased with the attention his request had gotten. I don&#39;t think he ever suspected that the only additional cooking his sandwich ever received was 2 minutes under a heatlamp.<br \>

Bob Isenhower      4:16 PM Wed 3/24/2010

While I working at the Zoom, the big sign that hung over the front door had blown down, and the company wanted to replace it. I told Phil Newell (manager) that I thought I could paint a sign that he would like. I did, and the company was pleased enough with it to keep it hanging for several years. Sometime after that, they decided they wanted to have a display board for their daily specials, and asked if I could try to do something that would be easy to change on a daily basis. I came up with a sign that had two bolts protruding from the front of it, and a dozen or more small signs with two matching holes. The small signs were painted with the names of the daily specials, so it was the work of a second to take off the yesterday&#39;s special and replace it with a different one. <br \>That system worked satifactorily for a good number of years. One day, Charlie Jones (Rev. Jones, one of Bibi&#39;s VPs) came running up to me and said, &quot;How dare you say our chicken is bad!&quot; Absolutely befuddled, I told him I didn&#39;t know what he was talking about. He said, &quot;You&#39;re telling customers our chicken is bad!&quot; Certain that he had me confused with someone else, I said, &quot;No, sir, Rev. Jones, I never did that.&quot; &quot;Yes, you did,&quot; he said. Then a big smile came across his face, and he said, just look at that sign....&quot; On the lilttle sign I had painted, I had written the words, &quot;Foul of the Day&quot; (or something similar). I guess when you paint enough signs, the words &quot;Foul&quot; and &quot;Fowl&quot; are too easily confused... So I really had told the customers that the chicken was bad! I repainted the sign.

Bob Isenhower      4:07 PM Tue 3/23/2010

Hi to Rick Frederick. <br \><br \>Rick, you may not remember me from the Zoom-Zoom. Wes Martin and I started working there on the same day, sometime around August or early September in 1968. Rick trained us to work the bar and cash register (at that time, the bar and cash register were together, right in front of the kitchen). Later, they moved the cash registers upstairs, but it wasn&#39;t the same. Rick, do you know Phil Newell is still around? I doubt it, but you never know. And you&#39;re exactly right. A lot of college kids worked at the Zoom and Rat. I think the pay was $1.10 per hour when I started; after four years or so, I believe I had climbed all the way up to $1.35 per hour -- I guess four year&#39;s experience was worth an extra quarter! But I would trade those memories for anything.<br \>Good, good times.

Debi Jacobs      10:48 AM Sun 12/6/2009

The Rat is no more? I am heartbroken! In the 60&#39;s my Durham cousins would always take me on the Great Chapel Hill Expedition, when I came down to visit from Ohio while I was in high school. Later, in 1970 when I moved to CH, the Rat was one of my favorite places, and in the 80&#39;s I would come here with my cousin when I came up from the Virgin Islands to visit. The smell and the sound of that sizzling hot platter of steak is imprinted on my memory!

Lola Becton      12:27 PM Fri 10/23/2009

The lasagna was the best at The Rat. I am so sorry to see it go. It was truly a part a of the charm of attending Carolina. I was looking forward to one day showing my children Franklin Street and taking them to the Rat to eat. I wish it could have been saved.

Bill S.      9:08 PM Sat 10/17/2009

My family, a guest and I were incredibly disappointed to stop in Chapel Hill on the way home from the State Fair today and find out that the Rat was no more. We went across the street and ate at the Carolina Coffee Shop, but when you had your mouth set for a Gambler and some cheesecake, a bowl of chili just isn&#39;t going to cut it.<br \><br \>I was never a Carolina student, but lived in Chapel Hill in the late 80s/early 90s. I&#39;ve went back from time to time, and most of the time ate at the Rat. I&#39;m amazed at how much the town has changed, and not for the better, in my opinion. Who knows when I&#39;ll go back again, or what will be closed this time. At the rate they&#39;re going it&#39;d likely be the university itself.

Bob Jurgensen      9:47 AM Tue 9/29/2009

Charly,<br \><br \>Do you remember and have anything on:<br \><br \>Carolina Coffee Shop: <br \>(still there, last time I was in CH - my dad was the manager there in the 1950&#39;s - a funny story my mom used to tell was how he once ran Andy Griffith out for not wearing shoes (he used to walk around in bib overalls too, back then)<br \><br \>The Library: <br \>I recall, as a police officer there in the 1970&#39;s, students who used to say to their parents and friends &quot;I&#39;m going to the Library&quot; and they didn&#39;t mean the one on campus.<br \><br \>The Dog House: <br \>A place that pretty much sold only hot dogs as I recall, across from Brady&#39;s (I think Brady owned it initially) - it was a drive-in but no curb service; once, while visiting in the 70&#39;s I tried to use an American Express &quot;traveler&#39;s cheque&quot; (long before the days of debit or credit cards, mine you) and after placing a large order (my mom LOVED hot dogs and we were there for a family gathering, so I think I ordered maybe 15 or more hot dogs) and I was rebuffed because &quot;we don&#39;t take checks&quot; by the order taker, and then the manager. I mean it was an American Express cheque - but no sir, cash only. I had to drive to the bank and the we ate cold hot dogs.<br \><br \>Tar Heel Sandwich Shop: <br \>I remember .35 cheeseburgers that were, honeslty, and this is tough to say, better than Suttons... because they toasted the bun. I think I ate two a day while working as a projectionist at both the Varsity and the Carolina theatres during my late teens. We used to send the usher there for a bag almost every day. The place was always packed to the door. To this day you can say &quot;all the way&quot; in CH and they understand you want chili, slaw, mustard and onions - but don&#39;t try that in NORTHERN Virginia... they are clueless. <br \><br \>The Bowling Alley &amp; Restaurant at Eastgate: <br \>My dad opened that restaurant that was attached (where Southern Seasons USED TO BE) and ran it for years; I recall working there at about the age of 12, making .50 a hour to wash dishes in a mega automatic dishwasher. When it first opened, it was packed every day because of the blue plate special that changed every day. Because it was next to the bowling alley, I made friends with the staff there and was able to bowl for free - as a result I, at one point, bowled as high as a 258 game (once) and had an average of about 225 - pretty darn good for a 12 year old kid. Few of the leaguers could even come close to that but I used to sit and watch some of the ones that occassionally scored a perfect 300 and it helped me perfect my style and technique... and since I would bowl for hours on end for free, I ultimately joined a youth leaque and was the &quot;star&quot; on the leaque. I recall none of those names but it was a fun time.<br \><br \>The Wishing Well restaurant: <br \>My dad also opened and ran this back in the 1950&#39;s and it was also initially successful, with crowded dining rooms and live entertainment on weekends. Long before Eastgate was built on that swamp next door, it was a regular mecca for the Town and Gown crowd. <br \><br \>TarHeel Motel: <br \>which was just down the street on the 15-501 Bypass, from what is now Eastgate S/C and a chain motel these days, we lived in one of those small homes you can no longer see from the bypass as you pass by. They had a COLOR TV in the lobby and we would go there every Sunday evening to watch Walt Disney, in vivid color. I also recall being able to see the Drive-In movies from my bedroom window at night - and some of the (by the standards of the 1950&#39;s, mind you) some very risque scenes on the big screen (there is a shopping center on that land now, with a grocery store if I recall, not sure of it&#39;s name.) Between that exposure to adulthood and my days as a projectionist at the Varsity (which was the only theatre than ran anything risque that would be considered &quot;R&quot; by today&#39;s standards and often even some &quot;X&quot; style stuff (the first ever exposed breast I saw was Sophia Loren, don&#39;t recall the movie) - I was a projectionist there from the tender age of about 14 to 17 before moving to the Carolina Theatre after being offered the job there due to the illness of one of their projectionist. I worked there until I joined the US Coast Guard at 18 and left CH for four years, returning in 1971 to work for the CHPD as a patrol officer... a VERY interesting experience I will share more with you about that later.<br \><br \>The Dairy Bar at Glen Lennox:<br \>I know you have covered Glen Lennox in another post, but another memory I have, because we indeed lived in Glen Lennox for several years after my mother&#39;s divorce, was going to the Dairy Bar there. I had a friend, Steve Sparrow (who&#39;s dad owned Sparrow&#39;s Electric and they lived nearby)... once, while hanging out there with Steve but apparently not spending enough to justify sitting inside enjoying the air conditioning on a hot summer day, the manager, a man with little sense of humor, ran us out... so we decided to seek revenge and picked up the recently cut grass clipping and with the aid of some of our bubble gum, proceeded to smear it on the windshielf of his Desota parked around the corner. Later that evening my mother and I received a visit from Mr. Jack Merritt, a former start football player (20&#39;s) who was a police officer in those days for CHPD, to ask if I knew anything about that incident... so, not being a good liar, I fessed up only to learn that Steve had already been spoken to and had implicated us in this &quot;crime&quot; - luckily, Officer Merritt had compassion (could be my mother&#39;s stature in the community helped a little!!) and let it go if we apologized to the manager of the Dairy Bar - which was one of my most embarrasing moments in life, having to do that in person. After that it was no more milk shakes from the Dairy Bar. THAT was the REAL penalty, in the end.<br \><br \>ALSO: I loved your piece on the Shack - it was a favorite haunt of my grandfather, who spent probably the equivalent of years inside that delapidated building

Richard      1:22 PM Mon 9/28/2009

Too bad about the Rat closing. I actually ate there a few years ago on my yearly visit back to CH. My favorite memory from the &#39;60s and early &#39;70s was the dark Lowenbrau on draft. No one else had that beer, and it was very good! A pitcher of that and what used to be called a &quot;senior filet&quot; I believe, with those peas and pimentos and grilled onions on that sizzling platter cured many a post-exam week blues for me!<br \><br \>I also remember Danziger&#39;s--I bought a gift for my parents there in the mid-&#39;60s, and I found it when I was cleaning out their house after they passed a while back. Brought back memories of my saving-up and shopping to buy it. And the Ranch House buffet on Sunday&#39;s was a great place to take a date as I remember!<br \><br \>RIP, Rat. It was one of many CH landmarks that are now gone.

Terry S.      11:24 AM Wed 6/24/2009

The Rat was an institution.. Such a shame none of the old restaurants are still there - I always looked forwarding to going when I&#39;d come home to visit!

Bob Isenhower      2:17 PM Thu 4/16/2009

While in college, I worked at the Zoom, the Rat, the Ranch House and the Villa Teo -- but mostly the Zoom and the Rat. The people I remember most (in no special order) are Davis &quot;Hossman&quot; Blackwell (waiter in the Rat), Cliff (waiter in the Rat, but I don&#39;t recall his last name), Jim Cotton (kitchen manager), Pop (waiter and cook in both places), Kenny Mann (prep cook and kitchen manager), Roosevelt &quot;Smoolie&quot; Sanford (waiter in both places), Phil Newell (Zoom manager), Phil MIller (Rat manager), Loy Long (Rat Ass&#39;t manager), &quot;Bug&quot; (sorry I don&#39;t remember more name than that, but he was Ass&#39;t mgr. at the Zoom), and of course, Robert Brooks, who was 2nd in command to Bibi herself. Other names that come to me include Herb Paylor, &quot;Eyes,&quot; Vince (a &quot;floating&quot; manager), Wes Martin (the only one I knew before working there, and still know today), and Willie Jackson (Wes said Willie could drink a beer faster than anyone he&#39;s ever seen). <br \><br \>I worked for the Danzigers for nearly six years (&#39;68 - &#39;73), and I wouldn&#39;t trade the memories for anything. I was mostly a host-cashier, but I spent time waiting tables, busing tables, washing dishes, and even painting signs for the company. Hi to Avery and Randy (Bibi&#39;s sons) , if anybody ever sees them.

Rick Frederick      9:00 PM Wed 4/1/2009

Over the years, many male Carolina students worked at the Rat, Zoom Zoom, Ranch House, Villa Teo, and Bachus (all owned by Bebi Danziger). We should start a message board to share the memories of the owner, the managers, the cooks, the waiters, and the busboys.<br \><br \>The pay was bad, but the job was fun. And the stories!

Marty Nelson      5:46 PM Wed 3/18/2009

I was about to make plans to go back to Chapel Hill in June, but with the RAT closed what is the point?

Ann Croft      12:34 PM Tue 3/17/2009

My first date was at the Rat too, pizza then a movie at the Varsity, ~ December 1968!

Bryson Lawton      6:54 PM Mon 3/16/2009

A large part of Chapel Hill died when the RAT closed.

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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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