North Carolina Newspapers

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Town Might Lose
Spot in Triangle
Local officials say a change
in Chapel Hill's status could
damage the relationship
between local governments.
By Courtney Weill
Senior Writer
Mention oi the Triangle conjures up
images of Raleigh, Durham and Chapel
Hill in most N.C. residents' minds.
But after the 2000 census, bureau
crats in the Office of Management and
Budget in Washington, D.C., might
remove Chapel Hill from the metropol
itan region.
Though the town could lose name
recognition on Capitol Hill, area leaders
foresee little harm to Chapel Hill’s econ
omy and well-being.
Areas with dense populations are
considered Metropolitan Statistical
Areas by the federal government, said
Joel Harper, director of the Chapel Hill
Chamber of Commerce. Chapel Hill
belongs to the Raleigh-Durham-Chapel
Hill MSA,
“Based on how we think our popula
tion has changed in the last 10 years, it
looks like the Raleigh-Durham-Chapel
Hill MSA may split and Raleigh will
become its own MSA and Durham and
Chapel Hill another MSA,” Harper
Though no changes will be made
until the census data is in, Harper said
the name of the MSA would change and
Chapel Hill would drop out of the title.
However, the town would still be
considered part of the MSA.
“What we lose is the prestige or
image that comes with being in a MSA,”
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Harper said. “You hate to have the
name out of recognition but bureaucrats
are the only ones who see (the official
MSA names).”
Chapel Hill would still receive the
valuable federal funding given to com
munities that are part of MSAs. Harper
Robert Humphreys, executive direr
tor of the Downtown Commission, said
he worried the new classification could
diminish future work between the area’s
sprawling communities.
“One of the things an awful lot of
folks in Chapel Hill and Durham hope
will happen in the new millennium is
that we’ll all start working together and
do more regional planning because
what happens in Durham affects Chapel
Hill and vice versa,” he said.
“By us being excluded by the census,
it will further put off that cooperation
that is so important.”
But Town Council member Joyce
Brown insisted that no matter what hap
pens in the future, Chapel Hill would be
able to stand its own ground
“It is very evident that we are cer
tainly an important part of the Triangle
community,” Brown said, noting that
the Town Council had not discussed the
In fact, Humphreys said he thought
that Chapel Hill would always draw
attention in the state whether it was
included in the new MSA or not.
“Everybody always knows where
Chapel Hill is,” he said.
“People who don’t know where
Raleigh and Durham are know where
Chapel Hill is.”
The City Editor can be reached
New Looks,
Tastes Hit
Spanky's is slated to reopen
next week, while Wicked
Burrito has apparently shut
its doors permanently.
By Sarah Brier
Staff Writer
As the interest in downtown Chapel
Hill grows, many local businesses are
revamping their stores and restaurants
in an attempt to keep regulars coming
back and to attract new faces.
Robert Humphreys, the executive
director of the Downtown Commission,
said these recent renovations reflected
the vibrancy of the downtown district.
“I think its saying what we tell people
all the time about the economic viabili
ty of Chapel Hill,” he said. “Owners are
reinvesting in their businesses.”
While many restaurants are under
going changes, the reasons for change
“Older restaurants like the
Rathskeller and the Carolina Coffee
Shop are dedicated to old traditions,”
Humphreys said. “While its going to be
different, they aren’t going to change
Greg Owens, owner of the Carolina
Coffee Shop, the Owens 501 Diner and
the Broadstreet Diner in Durham, said
he wanted to keep the same traditions
in the Carolina Coffee Shop, the oldest
continuously named restaurant in the
Triangle since 1922.
“T he major things we’re doing are
the plumbing, electrical, making the
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The Changing Face of Downtown Chapel Hill
To keep up with Chapel Hill's aiverse clientele, local businesses and restaurants are changing their appearances and their menus. Although some
renovations have taken longer than others and some restaurants are permanently closed, they reflect the area's evolving business district
m?m Changes/ Renovations
bathrooms American Disabilities Act
compliant and improving the kitchen
floors, walls and ceilings,” he said.
There was speculation about the cof
fee shop becoming a sports bar but
Owens said that was not the case. He
said the only major change he was mak
ing was adding an affordable blue plate
special to the menu.
“We are still having classical music
playing, the same booths and the same
pictures on the walls,” he said.
Tony Sustaita, owner of The
Hideaway, which was formerly known
as Havana, said they renovated the
restaurant with an emphasis on the
menu and a less-serious atmosphere.
“The Hideaway serves a wider vari
ety and a more traditional selection of
food with a Southwestern flair,” he said.
“It is no longer Cuban.”
Sustaita said he hoped the wider vari
ety would allow larger groups to visit
more often, especially students.
“We changed the decor a little bit
and the menu drastically,” he said.
“Havana’s religious customers are dis
appointed right now, but the food was
n’t something they’d eat every week.”
Spanky’s, a 22-year-old tradition on
East Franklin Street, has been under
construction for 6 1/2 months for both
menu and structural changes. Now,
with anew staff, new kitchen and phys
ical changes, Mickey Ewell, one of
Spanky's seven owners, said he looked
forward to reopening next Wednesday.
“There is a more open feeling," Ewell
said. “It is still turn of the century with
more of a bistro feel.”
Another reason for renovations
relates to the general growth of Chapel
Hill’s downtown district.
“There is more interest in downtown
than in recent years,” Ewell said. “We
own 411 and Squid's as well, and we
want to attract similar clientele.”
Sustaita and Owens both agreed that
December was a good time for renova-
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“We are shut down for a week and
students are gone,” Sustaita said. “We
have to close to renovate but still have
to pay rent and this way we lose less
In addition to some restaurants
undergoing major overhauls, the
Wicked Burrito posted a closed sign in
front of the restaurant. Officials from the
eatery were not available for comment.
Other businesses around town have
also made minor renovations to try to
bring in new customers in addition to
their loyal customers.
The City Editor can be reached

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