Pickleball Year-Round

The Pickles & Play courts have padding underneath the floorboards to eliminate dead spots and act as shock absorbers. (Photo: Pickles & Play)

Carolina has a top-rated club pickleball team but no designated court to play on. (See “UNC Wins Pickleball Collegiate National Championship” January/February 2023 Review.) The only public pickleball court in Chapel Hill, in Ephesus Park, sometimes has a 45-minute wait. Pickles & Play, a retail indoor court facility, hopes to offer relief. The business plans to open a space with seven professional indoor pickleball courts in northern Chapel Hill in February.

Lane Ethridge, a private pickleball coach and one of the owners of the franchise, said the game that has swept the nation is popular among players of all ages, from elementary school kids to retirees. He and his partners operate a Pickles & Play location in Wake Forest and have plans to open a few more in the Triangle. “Pickleball is for any reason and every season,” he said.

Typically, indoor pickleball courts in Chapel Hill are laid out on basketball courts. The Pickles & Play courts, which are in a new building, have padding underneath the floorboards to eliminate dead spots and act as shock absorbers to make it easier on players’ knees and other joints. Ethridge expects the professional courts may attract tournaments. His company hosts a tournament. Leagues are welcome.

The facility will offer monthly memberships, priced for individuals, families and seniors. Members can book courts ahead of time or show up to participate in pickup games. The building will be staffed 10 to 13 hours a day, but the top-tier membership allows access for 18 hours a day. Pickles & Play will hold clinics and classes and have a pro shop and a room for private parties.

7310 Millhouse Road

Carolina Apparel Shop Reopens

A longtime Franklin Street business that closed for renovation last year has reopened after a pause to deal with a family tragedy. In 1993, Dhruva Chellani founded the dress shop Classic Fashions in downtown. Over time, the store added more Tar Heel apparel, including men’s shirts and jackets and fan gear for pets. It became known as the go-to for unique and funny Carolina T-shirts, such as a “Hate Duke” line, and accessories. Along the way, Chellani changed the store name to Classic Carolina.

Dhruva’s son, Kris Chellani ’20, an entrepreneur and TikTok influencer, joined the business in recent years. Last year, they closed temporarily for remodeling as part of Dhruva passing the business along to his son. Days before their grand reopening in September, Dhruva and Kris were killed in a car accident.

Later that fall, Krystal Chellani committed to honor her father and brother by carrying on the family business. Her uncle, Dhruva’s brother, Mohan Chellani, came out of retirement to help.

“This will be a healing process,” he said. “It’s just not building the business, but it’s also a way of moving forward after the tragedy.”

171 E. Franklin St.

Brewery’s Last Call

Another business in Carrboro’s South Green Shopping Center has closed. Craftboro Brewing Depot closed shop in mid-February. Coronato Pizza closed in October last year after a dispute over cigar smoke from its next-door neighbor Oasis Cigar Lounge, and the members-only cigar club moved out, too.

Craftboro owners Amy and Jason McCarter said their business had weathered COVID, but the reduced foot traffic after the two popular businesses in the shopping center closed was too much to overcome.

“Equipment failures, cold, wet winters, and COVID variants got thrown at us,” Jason McCarter told The Local Reporter. “Add in other obstacles out of our control, such as inflation on everything from grain to utilities, and the going got even harder.”

McCarter said the business has no immediate plans to relocate.

Too Much of a Good Thing

Dahal now makes about 2,000 momos a day. He decided to focus all of his efforts on Momo’s Master. (Photo: Momo’s Master)

In spring 2022, Ramesh Dahal built on the success of his Nepalese restaurant, Momo’s Master, by opening Basecamp, a tapas and cocktail bar on East Franklin Street. He closed his new venture at the end of 2023, essentially a victim of his own success. The 100 block of East Franklin, coupled with his Himalayan momo dumpling eatery around the corner at 110 N. Columbia St., bunched too much good food in one location, he said.

Dahal intended to use Basecamp as a venue for cultural events and themed gatherings, along with small plates and drinks. To that end, he hosted a multicultural Halloween party in 2022 and several Bollywood nights. He also partnered with UNC’s Asian American Center to put on other events.

However, business at his momo restaurant grew rapidly. He now makes about 2,000 momos a day. He decided to focus all of his efforts on Momo’s Master.

The space at 105 E. Franklin had been home to the halal deli Peno’s Mediterranean Grill, the Moroccan restaurant Jed’s Kitchen, Tama Tea and the frozen yogurt bar SweetFrog.

Moving On

After more than 70 years in downtown Chapel Hill, Walker’s Funeral Home closed its 120 W. Franklin St. location and moved the business to Chatham County. Investors Title, which backs up to the property from its location on the corner of West Rosemary and North Columbia streets, bought the building and parking lot for $5 million in January. The parcel has an assessed tax value of $8,387,700.

Walker’s funeral associate Jim Gies cited high taxes as a reason for selling the property. “It got to the point of why are we even doing business with taxes so high,” Gies told The News & Observer.

Walker’s has locations in Hillsborough and Mebane, and in December opened a new facility near North Chatham Village, formerly Cole Park Plaza shopping center. The new building can host larger funerals, Gies said, and offers the option of building a smokeless crematorium in the near future.

Thrift Shop on the Market

A Carrboro thrift shop has put its downtown property at 125 W. Main St. up for sale. CommunityWorx has listed its two buildings and parking lots at $4.7 million. The property has a tax value of $5,119,700. Tax returns from 2022 showed that the nonprofit still owed $4.3 million on its mortgage. Kevin Hicks, who chairs the CommunityWorx board, told The News & Observer the nonprofit plans to lease back the retail store and community space from its new owners.

The nonprofit opened 71 years ago as the PTA Thrift Shop. Profits from the sale of second-hand goods supported the Chapel Hill-Carrboro City Schools. About a decade ago, the money sent to the schools dropped sharply after the thrift shop took on an ambitious expansion. A rift between the PTA and the business prompted the name change as part of settling a lawsuit filed by the North Carolina PTA and the National PTA to remove PTA from the name.

Hicks told The N&O that the plan is to sell the property to an investor tied to the mission of CommunityWorx to keep the nonprofit operating at its current location.

125 W. Main St., Carrboro

— Nancy E. Oates

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