Since April, 11 restaurants and shops have opened or have been slated to open for business, with the latest addition being Campenella's Cafe and Art Gallery located at 416 W. Franklin St.
The gallery/coffee shop hybrid recently opened after about 2 1/2 months of demolition, remodeling and decoration for the 1,200 square foot location.
"I started from scratch and basically demolished and redid everything myself," Campenella said.
Robert Humphreys, director of the Downtown Commission, said downtown is making a welcome return to the way business used to run.
"You can see approximately 80 percent of the stores are independent," Humphreys said. "This is what downtown has and always will be."
Alexus Custom Workshop and Furniture, 400 W. Rosemary St.
A former tattoo parlor, now painted purple with fairies, this furniture shop boasts creative furnishings, upholstery, slipcovers and custom window treatments.
"If you're trying to do anything in the home, you don't need to go anywhere else," owner Alexus Wright said.
201 E. Franklin St.
Backed by the experience of manager Michele Rizzo, a native Italian from Sicily, the cafe offers authentic Italian cuisine including individual pizza pies, pastas and desserts paired up with a full-service espresso bar.
"If you want something fast, you can come here and everything will be ready in five minutes," Rizzo said.
Campenella's Cafe and Art Gallery, 416 W. Franklin St.
"It's not your typical coffee shop. You can actually sit down in our living room," Campenella said. "I've put a lot of work and love into this place."
Kurama Sushi & Noodle Cafe,
105 N. Columbia St.
At the center of Kurama sits a motorized, rotating sushi buffet called a kaiten sushi that manager Izumi Koito says is the single most distinguishing facet of the restaurant.
"You see some in California and New York, but we're the only place (here) with a kaiten sushi," Koito said.
Lucy's, 114 Henderson St.
After opening June 1, co-owner Bruce Mason said he hopes to attract "every single person in Chapel Hill" to his cajun-style restaurant.
The restaurant will host the Thursday night broadcasts of UNC football coach John Bunting's show. "It's a beautiful place with one damn good-looking owner," Mason said.
Red Wok, 418 W. Franklin St.
By the looks of the Chinese restaurant's exterior, Chapel Hill resident Creighton Humphreys says one wouldn't know what to expect. But he said he can't get enough of the Red Wok, which opened its doors to the public in April.
"You can only eat about a third of what they put on the plate," said Humphreys.
Sukura Japanese Express,
110 N. Columbia St.
Sukura is a hibachi-style Japanese fast-food restaurant. Owner and manager Pat Thirakoun said he hopes of offering students a new eatery downtown.
"There's lots of sandwich and pizza places, but there's no hibachi," Thirakoun said.
Valentino's, 100 W. Franklin St.
Dining Room Captain David Anthony Crusco described Valentino's, the upscale family-owned and operated Italian restaurant, as "something built and set up like a restaurant you would see in New York." Large windows look out onto the hustle and bustle of Franklin Street.
Crusco also speaks well of the food. "We serve authentic Italian dishes that have been around for thousands of years."
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