Published: Dec 18, 2012 07:00 PM
Modified: Dec 18, 2012 06:41 PM
CHAPEL HILL - Folks with a hankering for scattered, covered and chunked hash browns or Bert’s signature chili soon will get their fix downtown 24 hours a day.
Waffle House, a Southern institution based in Atlanta, is renovating the former location of Pepper’s Pizza and Yo Frutt at 127 E. Franklin St. The roughly $208,000 project will transform the 1,910-square-foot space into a 34-seat restaurant, with traditional booths, a tall counter circling the grill and a jukebox.
The work started in November after a short delay, and the opening is scheduled for mid-February, Waffle House construction superintendent Norman Beals said.
Spokeswoman Kelly Thrasher said it wouldn’t be the first Waffle House without its own freestanding building, and it will still feel like a traditional Waffle House on the inside. The company has found college campuses to be a good fit and is excited to come to Chapel Hill, she said.
“The last few years, we’ve opened a lot of locations on or close to college campuses. It’s popular with students, faculty, staff and others in the area,” she said. While breakfast seems to be a popular time for customers, Thrasher said college students don’t always keep regular hours. It also will offer people one more place to go for late-night food or after events or games.
“Our goal is to be part of the community and work with other businesses in the community,” Thrasher said.
The owners of two longtime restaurants said they welcome something besides pizzas and burgers.
Daisy Maness, manager at Ye Olde Waffle Shoppe, located a few doors down, said her restaurant has served breakfast to a steady stream of students, faculty and locals for 40 years. There’s plenty of room on Franklin Street, she said.
“They are who they are, and we are who we are,” she said.
Carolina Coffee Shop owner Scott Cox said he sees the Waffle House doing a great late-night business with students, especially when the proposed University Square renovation closes Time Out Chicken. Carolina Coffee Shop offers diners a different atmosphere and great food made with local vegetables, eggs and meats, he said.
“We’ve got our clientele. I don’t think that’s going to change,” Cox said.
Joshua and Nichole Steiner, who were grabbing lunch at the bar last week, agreed.
“We’re from Pittsboro, and even if they opened a Waffle House at our back door, we would still come here,” Joshua Steiner said.