(photograph taken late night at Open Eye Cafe in Carrboro off of S. Greensboro and Robertson streets in Carrboro. The coffeehouse is open until 11 p.m. every night except Friday and Saturday when it opens until midnight.)
(photographs taken of Crook's Corner Restaurant on the corner of Franklin Street and N Merritt Mill Road in Chapel Hill)
The food truck ricochets throughout Carrboro: Johnny's Gone Fishing, Fitch Lumber Parking Lot, and the lot down from Glass Half Full. Loyalists flock to the Latin Grill for its tamales de pollo con salsa verde, tacos al pastor, enchiladas con mole and creamy flan. Year after year of consistent accolades keep the truck humming. Walk-up service, downtown locations. Keep up with them on facebook.
(photograph taken in the parking lot down from Glass Half Full in Carrboro)
The newly opened arcade bar, The Baxter Bar & Arcade, stocks a full bar and 46 restored arcade games from 1978-1998. Space Invaders, Donkey Kong, Centipede, Millipede, Dig Dug, Mario Bros., Tron, on and on.
(photograph taken on N.Graham Street between Franklin and W. Rosemary streets in Chapel Hill)
"This seemed natural. It still involved French culture and has the interactive nature which I love, so I came up with the idea," says Jody (in cap below), a former French teacher. She along with husband Tom hand make crêpe after crêpe as part of the family business, Parlez-Vous Crêpe. Jody, who regularly holidays in France, learned the crêpe craft from a friend in France who owned a crêpe machine. The couple has been feeding locals the classic French dish -- a delicate, feather-light version of a pancake -- from their signature pink trailer for almost eight years. In that time, business has burgeoned from street corners to weddings, business parties, university functions even Easter egg hunts. Despite fruitful growth, Jody enjoys the intimacy of a small mobile eatery and has no plans of transitioning into a full-fledged restaurant.
"I love that we are all open and everyone can see the process. And it's the kids, especially the kids, they get so excited waiting for the crepes to be made," she says. "We are a pretty small business. We are not young whippersnappers anymore. This is hard work. Really hard work. It's like a restaurant. It's not just opening up a trailer and making crêpes. That, a lot of people do not realize."
Even in the winter, when snow covers the ground and pipes are frozen, Jody and her husband are out making crêpes. And they keep trucking. Winning reviews and customer feedback make it all worthwhile.
"One of the things I like to hear is when they have gone to France and say 'I have been looking to get an authentic crêpe' and 'I am French and I just want to tell you that this is just as I have in France,'" she says. Then smiles and adds: "We also have crêpe virgins. Those are fun."
(photographs taken on Greensboro and Roberson streets in Carrboro)
"It was totally meant to happen. It's what I was meant to do. Now I look at a 29-year-old and they look pretty young but at the time I was chomping at the bit to do it. Also I was a business major. I didn't just throw my guitar away and open a bar," says Tricia (photographed below), owner of Orange County Social Club, who opened the Carrboro bar 13 years ago. OCSC has a throwback vibe with a stocked jukebox and vinyl mod sofas. The beguiling art installation that spans the wall nudges patrons for attention. It was created by Tricia's husband, artist Charles Chace, and is loosely redolent of the SMPTE color bars that appeared on television screens when networks went "off air." Towards the back, a flashing pinball machine is tucked in a corridor that leads to an outdoor space. Step outside to a lounge shrouded in vines, illuminated by lanterns and the reflection of a mirrored disco ball. An iron monogramed backdoor swings open (or serves as a an exit) inviting locals -- faithfuls who show up day in and day out, week by week, year over year.
"I worked at Merge Records, a local record label. I just found that my instincts for work were more in the hospitality department than other things. At the time, I was filling a niche. Everyone whose first names I knew wanted a bar to open. At the time there wasn't happy hour type for the 20ish or 30ish people...A lot of people have met their partners here and that makes me very proud. Our motto is consistency. We keep the place going even keel and vibrant. It's not trendy. You know what you're going to get when you come in. There's a good vibe....sit and talk with your friends and not be bothered."
(photographs taken at Orange County Social Club located at 108 East Main Street in Carrboro. It's open seven days a week.)
"It was a bait and tackle. It's had a lot of little lives. It was a smoking-cigars-having-a-package-of-crackers place ... just sitting around," shares Susan (in glasses below). She runs Johnny's Gone Fishing, a coffee shop in a 1930s building that once housed a grocery store, then a bait & tackle shop, and finally a quirky community center. It's located off Main Street in Carrboro and has a warm community vibe that encourages folks to stay longer than perhaps otherwise anticipated. Open seven days a week, the shop offers baked goods, homemade ice cream, beer/wine, and a kaleidoscope of happenings: music jams, puppet shows, live performances, farmers markets, cook outs, kids story time, songwriter circles, food trucks. One think you'll no longer find are hooks and poles.
"People come in and have a flashback from their childhood: 'Ah, that's where the crickets were ...' They have these memory connections. I often hear people tell stories when they were a child. It was a good ol' boys place. Some still come in and are looking for worms," she says, then pauses remembering. "I have a worm guy, I need to remember to keep worms in the fall."
As she is talking, a shop regular is filling his coffee at the counter. The postman marches in á la Cliff from Cheers greeting folks with a hearty laugh. A woman is buried in a book in the sun room. Susan explains she recently moved here from Europe and lives across the street.
"We have all the coolest people come in here...There's something special about this place."
(photographs taken at Johnny's Gone Fishing, 901 West Main Street in Carrboro)
Imagine the scent of fresh herbs and aged pine, paired with the taste of ambrosial hibiscus tea. Then add the hum of scores of pollinating bees. Feast for body, soul and mind. "The standard reaction is awe of the natural landscape, the beauty, the feeling one gets from being here," says Dana, a community herbalist.
The Honeysuckle Tea House is an open air structure evocative of Indonesia, located in the Chapel Hill countryside on a 16-acre farm about 20 minutes from downtown. Built to be a community gathering place, the tea house grows its own culinary and medicinal herbs, berries and mushrooms that are used in its teas, smoothies and kombuchas -- a drink with anecdotal health benefits made from fermenting sweetened black or green tea with bacteria and yeast.
"This country had been rich in herbal medicine," he says. "It's just been lost. It's more popular in other parts of the world."
The tea house is built on repurposed shipping containers not only to bolster the structure, but to cultivate edible mushrooms used for medicinal purposes. Designed with a sylvan charm, it features timber shelving and tables made from 100-year-old pine, woody scent still clings. The hut-like house is surrounded by vistas of the farm: garden beds spilling over with herbs, a wooden outdoor stage, clusters of picnic tables, a bridge traversing a pond, and a natural playground for children.
Besides selling beverages and local bites, the tea house offers live music, tea-making workshops and herbal consultations. It too accepts the Plenty, the piedmont local economy tender.
"Last September this was flat," Dana says, looking out at farm as if in wonder. "It was just a field."
In a world that can be filled with chaos and routine, the Honeysuckle Tea House is a welcomed escape. Best part, no passport necessary.
(photographs taken at 8871 Pickards Meadow Rd in Chapel Hill)
Sugarland's entryway seems to garner as much attention as its rainbow of sinful cupcakes. Often photographed, the tiered cake tiled underfoot unwittingly lures passersby.
Artist Erick Davis of Carrboro was commissioned by owner Katrina Ryan to handcraft the show-stopping piece. It took him nearly 200 hours, with minimal breaks.
Much of the recycled materials in his art are remnants of broken dishes from local eateries and coffee shops. His work is sprinkled throughout the sister cities. The ornate egg perched on the fork between Main & Rosemary streets (in front of Jesse's Coffee & Bar) in Carrboro is his. Beyond city limits, his woodland creatures wrap boulders in Briar Chapel, the development off 15-501 in Chapel Hill. Over the county line in Pittsboro, he created the mosaic alongside the General Store Cafe (now the Pittsboro Roadhouse) in Chatham County.
(photographs taken at Sugarland on Franklin Street in Chapel Hill)
A "Patton" American flag -- reminiscent of the iconic opening scene in the oft-quoted film -- backdrops Tyler's Restaurant & Taproom outdoor stage in Carrboro. The stage is tucked in the lot behind the restaurant and is one of two dozen indoor/outdoor venues for the Carrboro Music Festival. This year's 17th annual event takes over downtown on Sunday, September 28, with about 180 performing acts showcasing a spectrum of musical styles. A kick-off is scheduled for Saturday, September 27, at the Cat's Cradle Back Room.
(photograph taken behind Tyler's Restaurant & Taproom located on Main/Greensboro streets in Carrboro)
A pair of murals along the walls of the Cosmic Cantina depict what could be a post-apocalyptic Franklin Street. Perhaps its the near-blinding fulvous canvas that adds to the ominous feeling. Or is it the brooding moon? One thing's less disputable, the paintings mimic a barren Franklin Street both to the east and west of the bargain burrito joint.
The nameless piece was painted by former UNC-CH student James Briley about four years ago, according to restaurant staff.
(photograph taken at Cosmic Cantina on Franklin Street in Chapel Hill)
Server at the French/Mediterranean restaurant Provence in Carrboro. She has lived in the area for about ten years and at one time performed on local stages. "I abandoned theater for being a regular person." Alison rhapsodizes about working at the restaurant which from the street looks like a cozy home with an inviting garden bedecked with a purling fountain, stone ledge and a giant rooster. "We are like a hidden gem. It's a little oasis here."
Perhaps it's because she has perspective.
Prior to working at Provence she answered phones for the Town of Chapel Hill Public Works department (as in trash collection, pothole repair, etc. ). "I like serving here. People are real nice. At my old job, people just wanted to call in and yell at you."
(photographed at Provence restaurant on weaver Street in Carrboro)
"Flashback" is the theme for the mural that beams alongside Chapel Hill's Mellow Mushroom restaurant. The Franklin Street mural features psychedelic images and inspiration from UNC-CH vintage yearbooks. It is the largest mural in the Mellow Mushroom collection. Each Mellow Mushroom location features artwork reflected by an owner's signature style.
(photograph taken at Mellow Mushroom on Franklin street in Chapel Hill)
The beer mural logos were created by local artist Scott Nurkin (see "Greetings from Chapel Hill") and appear in the courtyard /alley of the legendary bar He's Not Here located at 112 1/2 W Franklin Street in Chapel Hill.
(photograph taken off of Franklin Street in Chapel Hill)