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All Up In Your Business: Mad Hatter's is coming to Chapel Hill

Mad Hatter's Cafe

Michael Teasley (left) and Deb Aronin (right), both employees of Mad Hatter's Cafe and Bakeshop in Durham, say their job is to deliver smiles to all the customers. Mad Hatter's is expanding to Chapel Hill and hopes to open a new location on South Campus during the summer of 2019.

The Mad Hatter's Cafe and Bakeshop, a Durham and Duke staple, is coming to UNC’s campus. 

The famed café has been a favorite of students and locals alike since opening in 1992 but has maintained its one location over the years at the corner of Main Street and Broad Street — easily accessible to students looking to grab a coffee or snack.

The Chapel Hill location is going to replace EspressOasis, outside of the Beach Café between the UNC School of Medicine and UNC Hospital, according to the UNC Health Care website. 

Robert Ghanem, owner of the Ilili Hospitality Group, who owns the cafe and both Saladelia locations on campus, said the cafe is going to open this summer and will have different style menus. 

“We are going to have our coffee program, all of our pastries, desserts and then lots of salads and paninis and sandwiches. We are also going to add a crepe station where there’s going to be ‘make-a-crepe’ fresh on order,” he said. 

UNC students are excited about the prospect of Mad Hatter's coming to UNC and spoke about some of their favorite experiences there.

Stella Shon grew up in Chapel Hill and often made the drive to Durham to visit the Mad Hatter's in high school.

“That was kind of the place where people went. It was a mix of Duke students, UNC students, high school students, families,” Shon said. “It was kind of the place where everyone went. Everyone could find something to do there.”

Others, like Durham-native and UNC first-year David Klein, have stronger associations to the cafe and bakeshop with their childhood.

“I was sick one day in elementary school and having a terrible day, and I went to lunch with my mom,” Klein recalled. “The waitress brought out a cupcake, like a make-your-own cupcake, so you got to do the icing and add the sprinkles. They’re really good with attracting a younger side but also having a defined college cafe workspace.”

UNC junior Michael Gibbons said Chapel Hill needs a cafe like Mad Hatter's. 

"Some cafes are kind of cramped where you’re stacked on top of other people. But it’s really spacious, and there’s a lot of seating,” he said. 

Shon continued, mentioning she thinks the Mad Hatter’s food options will appeal to many students.

“I felt like they have so many things to offer and there’s not one encompassing place like that in Chapel Hill right now,” Shon said.


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