Linda’s Bar and Grill Closes After 47 Years

A Chapel Hill staple for 47 years, known for cheesy tots and late-night events, closed its doors on Jan. 5.

Linda’s Bar and Grill on East Franklin Street was operated by Christopher Carini, who bought the restaurant in 2011. Carini told the Review that the closure of the establishment was due to many factors, the biggest being lingering financial difficulties caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.

“For two years there was no one here. I carried this place on my back with as much as I could, working as much as I could without taking paychecks,” Carini said. “It only goes so far. The business has to return, and there has been a paradigm shift in the way people experience restaurants and bars since the pandemic.”

The building is currently owned by Linda Williams, the original owner and namesake of the restaurant. Kim Scott, Williams’ daughter, told The Daily Tar Heel that she and her mother are looking for a new owner to reopen the bar.

Carini said he has been working with Williams and her family to make sure the restaurant has a future. “We don’t want to see it fall into a state of disrepair and turn into nothing,” he said. “We want to see it do well, and I think it has the ability to do that, but I no longer have the ability to do that.”

In September, Carini set up a GoFundMe account for Linda’s, raising $35,000 of a $135,000 goal to keep “our people paid, the lights on, machines fixed, and the building up to code,” Carini said in the fundraiser description. Funds collected from the account allowed the business to stay open during the fall semester, but when students went home for winter break, the restaurant couldn’t cover costs.

“I’ve done everything I can financially to keep it going,” Carini said. “That’s the thing that bothers me is we aren’t doing bad business. We’ve been busy enough to sustain it, but when you have to do that and carry the debt load of two and a half years of nothing, it’s not sustainable.”

Linda’s Bar and Grill on East Franklin Street was operated by Christopher Carini, who bought the restaurant in 2011. (Photo: Carolina Alumni/Cory Dinkel)

Carini said he has noticed fewer people coming in late at night, unlike earlier years. “Our busiest time used to be from 11:30 p.m. to 2 a.m. We were packed. That’s just not here anymore,” he said. “We tried to restructure to do breakfast and extra trivia. It was just too little too late.”

Linda’s hosted its final trivia and karaoke nights during the restaurant’s last week. The three days after Carini announced he planned to close, the restaurant drew large crowds. “Everyone has been so amazing and so helpful,” he said. “It’s been unbelievable the amount of people showing their love.”

The Review asked alumni on Facebook and Instagram to share their favorite memories and orders from Linda’s.

“Lunch every Wednesday from 1990–1995. Linda’s downstairs. Two chili & slaw dogs, crinkle cut fries, and a sweet tea. Watched the coverage of the Rodney King riots, the Clinton inauguration, and celebrated the 1993 basketball National Championship, all from a seat at the downstairs bar. Sad to hear it’s closing,” said Tim Postlethwaite ’95 (PhD) of Tampa, Florida.

“Always the cheese fries! And a Kitchen Sink. This is so sad,” said Lisa Cameron Marshall-Gravelle ’91 of Durham.

“Many a night ended with a pickleback shot and the loaded fries and loaded tots. Gonna miss going back to visit,” said Parker Lindenmuth ’18 of Raleigh.

— Cameron Hayes Fardy ’23

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