The New Orleans-themed bar officially opened at 157 E. Rosemary Street about two weeks ago. It is the first bar in Chapel Hill to primarily sell daiquiris.
Open Thursday through Sunday, the bar will contribute a new aspect to nightlife for UNC basketball fans, members of Greek life and town visitors alike with its unique live music and different flavored drinks.
Owner Bertha Gamble said she had dreamed of opening the bar in Chapel Hill since the early ’90s but didn’t have the chance until she found the ideal location in June 2016.
“I saw a vision and I believe God gave it to me a long, long time ago,” Gamble said. “I couldn’t afford it then, but he allowed me to do it now and I couldn’t be happier.”
She said the idea specifically came from a trip to New Orleans where she experienced the joy of Mardi Gras.
“Back in the early ’90s, I had the opportunity to go to New Orleans,” Gamble said. “Fat Tuesday was a big thing there — the main company that makes and sells daiquiris — it’s been a dream of mine for a long time to open a daiquiri bar and create an atmosphere that’s new and different.”
Gamble said she contacted Fat Tuesday and received help from a representative of the company to start the daiquiri bar. She said her main goal for the bar was to create a fun place for friends to gather.
“It’s a lighter touch than just a regular bar,” Gamble said. “I want it to be a place that people come to have fun and feel good — not to come and drink your blues away. It has the New Orleans swing style and is uplifting — we lightened it up with a lot of bright chairs and bright paint.”
General Manager Miguel Tatum said the bar has seen great attendance so far.
Zell’s will host a Mardi Gras Festival Feb. 24-28.
“At the Mardi Gras Festival we hope to serve some food, have live music and have games,” Tatum said.
Tatum said Zell’s will not be able to serve food until the bar has approval.
“For now, until we finish talking with the health department, we have free popcorn,” he said. “We also have live music every Friday and Saturday.”
As the bar expands, Gamble hopes to open another location in Raleigh and extend the hours to open every day. Gamble also said she hopes to host private parties for sororities, fraternities and other organizations from the University soon.
Bartender Magnus Ellington said he has enjoyed working with Gamble and Tatum and was glad he got the opportunity to work at the bar. He said he is excited for the future of Zell’s.
“Almost no one walks into our bar and walks back out without getting a daiquiri,” Ellington said. “Everyone seems to be excited so far and since we have started to really get our name out this week, I only expect attendance to rise.”
Gamble said daiquiris will always be special to her and she hopes everyone has the chance to try one in their lifetime.
“It’s a different way to drink alcohol — every drink that you can drink just plain over ice can be made more fun with a daiquiri,” she said.