Stores, Stories

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Sutton’s Drug Store, E Franklin

Established: 1923

Nearly a century old, Sutton’s Drug Store is truly a Chapel Hill institution. Reflecting the establishment’s ties to the community are the thousands of photos displayed on the historic walls.

In fact, since the 1980s, Sutton’s employees have taken over 10,000 photos of the store’s many patrons. In addition to its well-known burgers, sodas and specialty items, Sutton’s housed a pharmacy for 91 of its 95 years; only in mid-2014 did John Woodard, owner, sell the pharmacy to nearby CVS. Even without the pharmacy, the owner stays busy. Sutton’s food truck, which stations itself on Rosemary Street, opened just two months after discontinuing the pharmacy.

Fun fact: Years ago, there was a toy store in the basement of Sutton’s.

Ye Olde Waffle Shoppe, E Franklin

Established: 1972

Waffle Shoppe has always been a family-run business. Husband-and-wife duo James (Jimmy) and Linda Chris — both NC natives — founded and operated the restaurant until Jimmy passed in 2012. Linda now works alongside her daughter, Melissa, to maintain the family tradition. To cultivate the restaurant’s simple and charming ambience, the Chris family stripped down the building’s interiors and renovated the space before opening to customers. The menu touts similarly simple, yet timeless, breakfast items.

Fun fact: While renovating the building in the 70s, Jimmy incorporated materials from a former Greek Orthodox church — the same church where he and Melissa married.

Mama Dip’s Kitchen, W Rosemary

Established: 1976

Mildred “Mama Dip” Council was born in Chatham County and cooked for numerous local businesses before she opened this revered Southern-style restaurant. Council has alway valued locally-sourced ingredients, long before eating local became trendy. Her fresh Southern food quickly attracted locals, and Mama Dip’s established itself as a staple of the community. In the more than four decades since its inception, Mama Dip’s gained national recognition; Council authored two cookbooks, and Rachel Ray featured the restaurant on her program, $40 a Day, in 2004. Today, Council’s family members manage most of the daily operations, but she maintains an active role in the restaurant. Her granddaughter, Tonya, even started her own businesses, Tonya’s Cookies, across the street.

Fun fact: Mama Dip’s started its first day in business with only $40 to spend on food. It ended that day with over $130 in profits.