Jamil Kadoura provided the food for the grand opening of West End Wine Bar in 1997. Since then, the owner of Mediterranean Deli, a few storefronts away on West Franklin Street, has catered more than 200 weddings there.
West End owner Jared Resnick ’92 said that at every event, Kadoura would note: “Every time I walk into this place, it’s like the very first time.”
The next time Kadoura puts on an event in the building at 450 W. Franklin St., it will be for the first time — as owner.
When the pandemic hit in March 2020, West End and every other bar in the state closed without knowing when they could reopen. Med Deli stayed open offering takeout.
This March, as state restrictions on indoor gatherings eased, Kadoura asked Resnick whether he planned to reopen. Resnick also owns a wine bar and billiards parlor in Durham and had launched a technology company during the pandemic. His Chapel Hill space had fallen down his priority list, so Kadoura offered to buy it.
A week after they’d negotiated a price, Resnick got an unexpected and higher offer. He turned it down. “We’re always gunning for the most we can get, but sometimes it’s not about that,” Resnick said.
Resnick, who grew up in the area, had written the business plan while in high school, and he’d seen the market for a wine bar and billiards hall while a UNC student. It became the first business he and his wife, Jennifer Shipman Resnick ’96 (MS), opened. “It’s our baby,” he said.
His travels in Israel also inspired Resnick to offer a vastly broadened wine selection to a college-town palate usually satisfied with simply red or white. People came to celebrate engagements, weddings and other milestones. By selling to Kadoura — a native of Palestine who created his own Franklin Street landmark with Med Deli in the early 1990s — Resnick could pass along the bar’s legacy to someone who would honor it.
Kadoura, who plans to use the site as an event space, will honor the building’s history, too, renaming it The Story. And it does have a compelling backstory.
When Chapel Hill was still racially segregated, the building housed Colonial Drug Store, which wouldn’t serve Black customers at its soda fountain. They had to pick up orders to go at the back door. One Sunday afternoon in 1960, nine Black Chapel Hill teenagers sat down and asked to be served. The Colonial’s owner called the police, who arrested them. The incident inspired other challenges to segregation, and on the 60th anniversary of the sit-in, the town erected a marker in front of the building to honor The Chapel Hill Nine. “The Story will carry the heritage and history of the building,” Kadoura said.
The new name also nods to people celebrating weddings, births, retirements or graduations — writing new chapters in the stories of their lives.
Kadoura, aiming for a July opening, plans to use the building’s roof garden and perhaps the basement, maybe as a game room. Other caterers can rent the space as well.
Resnick said it will always hold a special place in his life’s story. “West End Wine Bar was my dream,” he said.
COVID-19 has made keeping a distance a way of life. But for chef Dan Jackson ’03, it also has presented an opportunity to fulfill a dream close to home.
Jackson is the chef for Chapel Hill’s new Osteria Georgi, an Italian trattoria and market backed by Giorgios Bakatsias, who over the past 40 years has launched some of the Triangle’s most popular eateries, including Kipos, City Kitchen and Bin 54.
The restaurant is in Village Plaza on South Elliott Road, just across a creek from Eastgate Shopping Center, where Jackson began his culinary career during high school and college at The Loop Pizza Grill. “I felt like myself the most when I was in the restaurant and working,” he said.
He continued developing his skills at a high-end restaurant and the Culinary Institute of America, eventually working his way to New York’s 11 Madison Park, which boasts three Michelin stars and has topped the World’s 50 Best Restaurants list. “I started at the bottom of the top,” Jackson said. “I had more experience than most who come into a fine-dining restaurant. But you still have to prove yourself.”
Jackson cooked next with Danny Meyer’s Union Square Hospitality Group — in its catering kitchen and as executive chef at New York’s Museum of Modern Art — and then as culinary director and chef of a new fast-casual chain, Fields Good Chicken.
Then the pandemic hit New York. His wife — Stephanie Jackson, whom he’d met when she was maitre d’ at 11 Madison Park — could work remotely, so she and their three children moved to Chapel Hill to stay with Dan’s parents. He followed when restrictions halted Fields’ expansion.
Jackson had dreamed of having his own restaurant, and after an introduction to Bakatsias, he will at the former home of Living Kitchen. Its 60 outdoor seats are an important asset for pandemic dining, and its market will sell items made in-house that customers can use to whip up meals at home. It will offer a range of cuisine, from a fine-dining $50-per-person dinner to a $12 budget bowl of pasta.
201 S. Elliott Road | osteriageorgi.com
Johnny’s Gone Fishing, the Carrboro coffee shop, community gathering spot and event space, hasn’t gone anywhere. It just changed its name to Present Day on Main. The little blue house on West Main Street got its start as a grocery store in the 1930s before becoming a bait-and-tackle shop, then a coffee shop. The new name aims “to represent … a culture of love, acceptance and peace,” according to its Facebook page. presentdayonmain.com • B. Good cafe — which served baked fries and other healthier options in Carolina Square on West Franklin Street since 2018 — is gone. The chain, with about 75 locations nationwide before the pandemic, has pulled out of North Carolina.
— Nancy E. Oates
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