But several businesses have opened their doors in the last year looking to make a niche for themselves on a street that hasn't changed its look much in 50 years.
Ralph's Italian Ice, located on Franklin Street next to Wedgie's, has been operating since the summer. Owner Chris Daino brought his idea down from his home in New York.
"We've been very happy with the response," Daino said. "I expected more business from Granville Towers, but we've been pretty good with the students."
Daino said his business has been active in recruiting the highly coveted student buying power.
"We've been advertising every week in the DTH, we donated ice to the Dance Marathon and the Honor Court thing," he said. "Whatever we can do to get kids in, we're doing."
Another new Franklin Street business selling towards students is Classic Contemporary Fashions, located where Emma's Clothing was just last spring.
Owner Drew Chellani said students are keeping him in business.
"(Our business) has been good ever since the students came back," he said. "We're doing mostly student business."
Chellani said he and his staff take careful consideration of what students will want when picking their inventory.
"We try to bring in the clothes we think students will like," he said.
Chellani said he isn't getting complacent about the student business he has.
"We're doing 50 percent off sales, just basically anything we can do to let them know we're here."
The Laughing Turtle Home Store, located in the former Office Supplies location, has only been in operation for a month, but store manager Sarah Juhl said the word about the store has gotten out.
"We're having lots of traffic," she said. "(The local business community) has been very supportive."
The Laughing Turtle Home Store has an extensive line of candles, decorations and general home comfort items. Juhl said the staff has been trying to think of ways to bring students in.
"We try to have a wide range of prices for people who may be on a low budget," she said. "We make sure we have lots of fun gifts that students may enjoy."
Another Chapel Hill business that is so new it has yet to open its doors is Penang Restaurant and Sushi Bar, located at the former Pyewacket location on Franklin Street.
Penang's owners, Conrad and Celine Cheah Thurstone, said the restaurant's menu will be based off recipes Celine's mother used to prepare when she was a child.
Celine Thurstone said the restaurant strives for credibility instead of marketability.
"Authentic Malaysian food is tremendously attractive to people from Southeast Asia, so the demand from that marketplace is very large."
The Thurstones picked the location for Penang, which is the name of the island Celine's family is from, because of its proximity to UNC's campus and because the market for restaurants in the area is ripe.
Penang is a chain that has restaurants in New York and a strong following wherever a new store opens, the Thurstones said. Penang is scheduled to open in October.
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