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The Daily Tar Heel

Goodbye, Gumby’s Pizza


Gumby’s Pizza

Man cannot survive on Pokey Stix alone, and neither could Gumby’s.

The pizza restaurant has closed after spending 18 years at its last Franklin Street location.

Most widely known for its Pokey Stix — a pull-apart pizza with dipping sauce — the restaurant was a staple for many UNC students and alumni.

“I have fond memories of Pokey Stix. I know the students will miss those,” said Sabrina Jones, director of East Coast Operations for Zapolski Real Estate and property manager for 306 W. Franklin St., where Gumby’s was located.

Signs posted on the building say the space has been taken over by the landlord, Jeff Boak. Contact info for vendors with machinery still inside is listed on the door.

Jones said there had been many problems with the current owners.
The owners of Chapel Hill’s Gumby’s didn’t answer calls to the number they left on the restaurant’s door.

Jones said Michael Bannerman was one of the owners. She said the owners were evicted because they were several months behind on their rent.

“I can’t disclose the exact number, but it was a substantial amount,” she said.

Chance Hippler, founder of Gumby’s Pizza and a previous owner of the Gumby’s on Franklin Street, said he received a letter notifying him of the eviction sometime around June 2.

Hippler said he doesn’t know of any plans to re-open Gumby’s elsewhere in Chapel Hill.

Hippler said he was sad to hear of the closing, after selling the business to its latest owners.

“We ran it successfully for 21 years, and then they went out in two years,” he said. “In that type of business, you have to keep up with the market.”

Hippler also owns the Gumby’s in Raleigh, but said he didn’t think the Raleigh store would be affected by the Chapel Hill store’s closing.

“We couldn’t really deliver any further than we probably already are,” he said.

“I wouldn’t expect people to drive from Chapel Hill to Raleigh to grab a Gumby’s pizza,” Hippler said. “It would be nice, but I wouldn’t expect it.”

Jones said the empty space has received a large amount of interest from businesses looking to move in.

She said they expect to have a new business there before school starts in August.

But Hippler said he would like to see another Gumby’s in Chapel Hill, if a franchisee wanted to start one.

“It’s got a very strong name there,” Hippler said. “We’d been there a long time.”

He said Chapel Hill’s Gumby’s was the fourth ever to open, after starting the franchise in 1985.

Ricky Kong, a UNC junior majoring in biology, said he never thought Gumby’s would close.

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“There’s not many places that will serve something like a Pokey Stix late at night when I’m craving it,” he said.

“A lot of incoming freshman will have missed the great tradition,” Kong said.

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