The Daily Tar Heel

Serving the students and the University community since 1893

Tuesday March 21st

Businesses move out, in, up

The local business community saw its fair share of change this year. The issue of turnover is a common one for the downtown business community, and this year was no different. "The changes have been good," said Liz Parham, the executive director of the Chapel Hill Downtown Partnership. Besides the perennial shift in eateries, the downtown welcomed a new children's museum called Kidzu. The museum opened in early March at 105 E. Franklin St., the former home of the Laughing Turtle Home store. "That's a great asset for the district," Parham said of the museum. "It will bring in a younger crowd." The older Franklin Street patrons probably noticed that one of downtown's historic fast-food eateries shut down in February. Hector's, which had been at 201 E. Franklin St. since 1969, closed briefly this year to make way for the East End Martini Bar's expansion. The restaurant quickly reopened in March at 108 Henderson St., the former Off Franklin Bar and Grill location. "The new location is better; it's more clean," Juan Bautista, co-owner of the restaurant, said in March. The move forced the restaurant to change its setup, as Hector's now has its kitchen closed off from customers, rather than in the dining area. The old Hector's spot still is waiting to open up to the public. East End plans to open up a night club called Uptown at the old restaurant venue. The club's opening was delayed because of confusion about a fire ordinance that requires new establishments to install a sprinkler system. Co-owner Craig LaMontagne said in mid-April that he is working on what avenues to take to be exempted from this rule, which would delay the club's opening two more months. Another eatery announced this year that it would be moving. El Rodeo is moving down a block, from 1404 E. Franklin St. to 1502 E. Franklin St. Owner Rigo Ibarra said he is excited about the move. He does not know the exact move-in date, but he said it might happen in about two weeks. The move will allow the restaurant to occupy a newer and larger space after 17 years in its bright-orange home. "We're going to have a much better place," Ibarra said. Some older establishments closed their doors this year, after decades in the Chapel Hill-Carrboro area. Pace Gift Shop in Glen Lennox shopping center closed at the end of January after more than 53 years in business. Store owner Wendy Maxwell said she has been unable to find a buyer for the store. Riggsbee-Hinson Furniture Co., 311 E. Main St., announced this spring that is was closing after a 58-year run in Carrboro. The store closed as a result of lackluster business and the failing health of store owner Charles Browning, who died March 25 Co-manager Chip Browning, son of Charles Browning, said he is in the process of cleaning things up and "yard-selling things out of here." He said it was difficult to operate a small business in the midst of competition from larger stores. "People are more apt to go shopping at these giant stores." Contact the City Editor at


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