Cookie Shop Bakes Up Expansion

A decade into a career in cookies Tonya Council has returned to Chapel Hill with plans to add a café to her bakery. (Photo: Tonya’s Cookies)

A decade into a career in cookies, including a pecan crisp variety that made Oprah’s Favorite Things list, Tonya Council has returned to Chapel Hill with plans to add a café to her bakery.

Council, a granddaughter of Mama Dip’s Kitchen founder Mildred Council, opened Tonya’s Cookies & Bake Shop in The Galleria shopping center on South Elliott Road just before Thanksgiving. She began baking cookies in the kitchen of Mama Dip’s on West Rosemary Street, then in 2009 moved across the street to a small bake shop. She sold her baked goods out of pop-up shops in Crabtree Valley Mall in Raleigh and The Streets at Southpoint in Durham.

In 2017, Council opened Sweet Tea & Cornbread in Crabtree Valley Mall. The store sold gourmet Southern food, including mixes for Mama Dip’s pancakes and cornbread and her five flavors of cookies. She expanded the business, launching Sweet Tea & Cornbread Café in the N.C. Museum of History. Recently, she acquired the e-commerce shop N.C. Made, a collection of North Carolina specialty products.

All along, Council’s loyal Chapel Hill customer base remained strong. In her new 1,200-square-foot shop on Elliott Road, she sells her pies, cinnamon rolls, scones, honey cake and cookies, along with gift baskets of North Carolina specialties such as Ginny O’s cheese straws, Chapel Hill Toffee, Big Spoon nut butter and Bertie County peanuts.

Council plans to knock down a wall and open a café. The menu will feature chicken-fried steak sandwiches, fried okra and salads with cornbread.

400 S. Elliott Road

From Beverage to Bodega

Just in time for Dry January, Boro Beverage has evolved to Boro Bodega and moved to West Franklin Street.

“A lot of people are sober-curious,” owner Carly Hendrickson said. “We lean into alcohol alternatives. We’re a safe place for people to explore not drinking.”

The store specializes in drinks to make people feel good — non-alcoholic beer and wine, adaptogens (herbs that help the body handle stress) and root extracts, along with energy drinks and Hendrickson’s locally made kombucha. The new location has room for a small deli case of cheese and olives. The inventory changes with the seasons and is curated to support local, minority-owned and women-owned businesses.

422 W. Franklin St.

Asian-Latin Mix Adds Spice to Carrboro

In November, Yung Nay debuted La Montaña on the ground floor of the Hampton Inn. (Photo: La Montaña)

Chef Yung Nay, a Montagnard from the Central Highlands of Vietnam, knows from mountains. He’s metaphorically climbed more than his share in his life, since his parents sent him and his brother to the U.S. with family friends when he was only 9 years old. He learned English from his grade school teachers — and from The Simpsons. Once he was old enough, he took jobs in restaurants and learned to cook. After reaching chef status, he opened his own restaurant, Iza Whiskey and Eats, just before the pandemic hit.

In 2017, he got word his father had taken ill. Yung Nay began the series of long, connecting flights back to his homeland, but his father died before he arrived.

“My father was the best host,” Yung Nay said. “People who came to his house were taken care of the right way. I want to re-create that here.”

In November, Yung Nay debuted La Montaña on the ground floor of the Hampton Inn. The menu of Asian-Latin specialties includes lemongrass chicken tandoori; edamame guacamole; firecracker shrimp stuffed with crab, cream cheese and chili sauce; and molcajete, a platter of steak, chicken and chorizo.

Yung Nay selected décor details to reflect his life then and now. Floral streamers dangle from the ceiling; a traditional Vietnamese leaf hat hangs by the door; and a bamboo wall is made from stalks harvested from the back yard of a home once owned by coach Dean Smith.

“I didn’t open La Montaña for the money,” Yung Nay said. “I’ve put my life savings into it. People respond to the energy and love when they walk in. It’s a special place. It’s brought me peace.”

370 E. Main St., Carrboro

Breakfast Spot Dawns

Snooze A.M. Eatery offers “an elevated breakfast experience” and a full bar. (Photo: Snooze)

A popular breakfast chain, Snooze A.M. Eatery, opened in Eastgate Crossing between East Franklin Street and Fordham Boulevard in November, offering “an elevated breakfast experience” and a full bar.

Some favorites among the Chapel Hill crowd are the Carbonara breakfast pasta, the Habanero platter of pork belly fried rice with eggs, and the Parmesan-Panko Crab Cake Benedict. The menu features a wealth of vegetarian options, such as the Smashed Avocado Benny, the Bountiful Buddha Bowl and the Adobo Roasted Veggie breakfast taco. Employees, known as “Snoozers,” decide on the Pancake of the Week.

Snooze carved out a large, pet-friendly, covered outdoor seating area, warming it with heat lamps on nippy mornings. The double-height ceiling in the 4,200-square-foot indoor dining room, along with colorful booths and bar seating, contribute to an airy, festive atmosphere.

The company commits to ethical practices of composting and recycling 90 percent of its waste, conserving water and using locally sourced ingredients where possible. Snoozers volunteer at charities and can contribute to a fund to aid other Snoozers during emergencies. Management also donates 1 percent of every meal to local nonprofits, incorporates carbon offsets into its deliveries and plants a tree for each employee every year.

1800 E. Franklin St.

Porthole Alley Shuffle

UNC’s redevelopment along Porthole Alley has meant relocations for a few businesses tucked away in the heart of downtown. But they aren’t going far.

Who’s Next Barber Shop moved in August from 128 E. Franklin St. to the Midway Business Center at 111 N. Graham St., where it has a street-front presence in downtown’s trending west end — and free parking behind the shop, a luxury his East Franklin shop lacked, said owner Cedric Cornish. The move has been good for business, he said. Not only did regular clientele follow him to the new location, but Cornish now attracts walk-in business from nearby neighborhoods and customers from Carrboro.

Cosmic Cantina will double its space when it moves just a few doors down from 128 E. Franklin St. to 118 E. Franklin St., the former home of Asia Café, later this year. The burrito specialist also expects to benefit from increased foot traffic in the more prominent, street-facing location. Manager Yeshua Sanchez said the menu will stay the same, but the store will offer a full bar. Rebecca Shoenthal ’17, who stopped in with her husband for a pregame burrito before a men’s basketball game, recalled many a late-night snack at the cantina when she was a student. “A lot of people don’t know about this place,” she said. “I’m happy it’s still open. It will be good for them to have more business.”

— Nancy E. Oates

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