The Daily Tar Heel

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Monday March 1st

Jack Sprat Cafe closes after 8 years on Franklin Street

	<p>Jack Sprat unexpectedly closed its doors Monday. Within a month the restaurant will be come Top This! Roast Beef, Burgers and More.</p>
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Jack Sprat unexpectedly closed its doors Monday. Within a month the restaurant will be come Top This! Roast Beef, Burgers and More.

Jack Sprat Cafe, which had been a Franklin Street hangout for nearly eight years, unexpectedly closed its doors Monday.

In less than a month, the restaurant will become Top This! Roast Beef, Burgers and More.

As the Jack Sprat owners grieve the loss of their cafe, the space’s new owners are gearing up to launch their brand new sandwich joint.

Jack Sprat co-owner Kyle Heath said he and his business partner Jason Ray reluctantly sold the restaurant Monday after owning it for three years.

“We regretfully do this, and we’re not at all happy,” Heath said. “We wish we could’ve kept the Sprat alive.”

Heath said they had hoped to sell the restaurant to someone who would keep Jack Sprat open, but they couldn’t find a buyer who wanted to keep the cafe.

Instead, Heath and Ray sold it to Top This! Restaurant Holdings, LLC.

This will be the first burger restaurant for the new company, which is owned by Tom Scheidler, Mike Itayem and Jim Handoush.

The company will open a Top This! Cafe in Raleigh within a week.

Top This! Roast Beef, Burgers and More will allow customers to build their own sandwich from its Create “UR” Craving menu of seven proteins and nearly 50 toppings. The restaurant will also have a full-service bar.

“It’s really about the wow factor,” Scheidler said.

Scheidler said he plans to open the restaurant by mid-November but might open it before Halloween.

The company hopes to make a chain of Top This! restaurants.

“We’re looking to do big things with this concept,” he said.

Heath said the decision to sell was not easy. He said the restaurant, which was open from 7:30 a.m. to 2 a.m. on weekdays, was too much of a time commitment for the duo, which also owns Franklin Street bar The Library.

“It wasn’t a monetary decision,” he said. “We just couldn’t put in the time and effort to run the operation.”

Heath said he and Ray spent 50 to 60 hours per week between them at the restaurant.

“If we were making more money, we could have hired managers and done that route,” he said.

Heath said they decided to sell the restaurant at the end of the summer.

He said the student traffic during the school year couldn’t make up for disappointing sales during the summer months.

“Whatever gains we would make, we would lose it all during summer,” he said.

Heath said the high rent prices on Franklin Street also contributed to the problem.

Duru Chellani — owner of Classic, a boutique down the street from Jack Sprat — agreed that rent prices are driving many businesses from downtown, as is the decline in customers.

“It’s becoming very hard to own a business on Franklin Street,” he said.

“Students are not coming out as much as they did before.”

Contact the desk editor at city@dailytarheel.com.

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