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The Daily Tar Heel

He’s Not Here, but will be back soon

The bar will be closed from Feb. 12 to March 3

Local bar, He's Not Here, will be closing for three weeks.
Local bar, He's Not Here, will be closing for three weeks.

The closure comes as part of the bar’s punishment for being one location where authorities say a former student, Chandler Kania, consumed alcohol underage on July 19, 2015.

Authorities say Kania then drove drunk and hit a car head-on, killing three people and injuring a fourth.

He’s Not general manager Fleming Fuller said the bar was more than willing to take the punishment and move on with business.

Owen Hunt, a bartender who has worked at He’s Not for four years, said the three-week punishment was much better then the alternative punishments initially threatened.

“We got off fairly light,” Hunt said. “Three weeks seems pretty easy when the original threat was being permanently closed.”

The business plans to use the time closed to its benefit.

Fuller said the bar will undergo renovations in preparations for its reopening on March 4.

“For any business, an extended closure like the one we are facing is never positive,” Fuller said. “That being said, we plan on making the most out of it.”

In addition to a makeover, He’s Not plans on increasing its presence in philanthropy in March, specifically by involving itself with Carolina for the Kids and Habitat for Humanity.

Fuller said He’s Not has raised over $100,000 in the past for charity and is looking to increase that when the bar reopens next month.

Staying afloat

He’s Not, the home of the iconic Blue Cup, has been a fixture of the University’s bar scene for decades, since it opened in 1972.

On a place like Franklin Street, which many consider a graveyard for prospective restaurants and bars, He’s Not has managed to thrive and develop a following.

Fuller said the bar’s success is owed to staying true to its roots and its casual atmosphere.

“The bar is so ingrained in Chapel Hill and the University that alumni and students alike have come to love it and want to come back to it,” Fuller said. “It really is a cornerstone of the town and the University.”

Whereas other places come and go, with an average three-to-five-year lifespan on Franklin Street, Fuller said He’s Not has managed to keep going because it’s a multi-generational place that is accepting of everyone.

Franklin Street legends

Like He’s Not, restaurant Top of the Hill enjoys the same adoration and success among students and alumni.

Jeff Wardwell, manager for TOPO, said much of his restaurant’s success is because of the emotional attachment of community members.

“Top of the Hill represents a unique brand, which sets us apart from competition. Over the last 18 years, we have become ingrained into UNC and Chapel Hill life,” Wardwell said. “We are consistent with our product and service and people come back for that and the space.”

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Another Chapel Hill legend, Carolina Coffee Shop, has survived life on Franklin Street since 1922.

General Manager Jeremy Ferry said the reason places like Carolina Coffee Shop are more successful than chains and franchises is because of the uniqueness an establishment brings to the table.

“Businesses that are established here and private are more often than not very unique and people are drawn to that,” he said.

“I think we become a local favorite for certain people, they know we are well established, it’s a unique atmosphere and they find what they like and they keep coming back.”