CHAPEL HILL – They are the establishments which have shaped our local business economy, each in a unique way—A Southern Season, Mama Dip’s and Fitch Lumber, to name a few. The leaders and entrepreneurs behind these staples of the community were honored Wednesday as the inaugural class of the Chapel Hill/Carrboro Business Hall of Fame.
The Chapel Hill-Carrboro Chamber of Commerce recognized 12 individuals during the gala at the Carolina Inn. The class included Ted and Edward Danziger of the Restaurateurs; Orville Camplbell of The Chapel Hill Weekly; and Frank Kenan of Kenan Oil and Kenan Transport.
To view Chapelboro’s complete gallery from the ceremony, click here.
Kenan’s son, Tom, spoke on behalf of his late father who led what was at one time the largest petroleum transportation company in the Southeast. A proud UNC alumnus, Kenan supported Carolina with generous donations throughout his lifetime.
“My father’s favorite words were, ‘The best speech is the shortest speech.’ So, I am not going to disappoint him tonight. He loved Chapel Hill; he loved this University; and he is still with us. I think he tells us what to do at least once a week,” Tom Kenan said.
A Southern Season started out as a one-man operation for tastemaker Michael Barefoot. Now it is one of the largest specialty-food retailers in the United States. Barefoot, who opened A Southern Season in 1975, attributes his success to the community’s loyalty.
“We didn’t create anything. We just planted a seed, and the local folks helped us grow it,” Barefoot said.
North Carolina State Senator Valerie Foushee was a presenter during the ceremony. She proudly welcomed Mildred Council, known as “Mama Dip,” a trailblazer in serving Southern cuisine, to the stage.
Council was greeted with evening’s first standing ovation.
“For her part in putting Chapel Hill on the culinary map and her generous support of local organizations, and her leadership in the minority business community, we proudly induct Mildred “Mama Dip” Council into the Business Hall of Fame,” Foushee said.
In 1976, Council opened Dip’s Country Kitchen with three employees and $64 to buy ingredients, according to the gala pamphlet. Decades later, her restaurant is still thriving, and Council said she hopes to expand.
“That is all I’ve ever done—is cook in my restaurant. It has really been successful. And I know so many of these people [fellow inductees]!”
WCHL’s own Jim Heavner was given a special introduction from Top of the Hill Proprietor Scott Maitland.
“Jim Heavner is Chapel Hill-Carrboro’s first media mogul,” Maitland said. “Parlaying a small town radio station into the flagship of a national sports broadcasting network, a cable TV company, an advertising circular, a university phone book publisher, and so much more.”
Heavner thanked his mentor, Sandy McClamroch, Chapel Hill’s longest-serving mayor and former owner of WCHL.
“As mayor of this town for eight years during the Civil Rights crisis, he set the standard for community service that we were expected to follow,” Heavner said. “He gave me the room to screw up and to learn how to do it. He changed my life. Sandy, thank you.”
Chamber President Aaron Nelson commented on the all-star class of business innovators.
“We are in a room with legends. It is incredible to hear the stories of the places where I take my children to now,” Nelson said. “The folks that started [those places] have forever shaped our community.”
Nelson added that the Chamber will induct three to four new members to the Chapel Hill-Carrboro Hall of Fame annually.
Presenter Rick Steinbacher, UNC’s Senior Athletic Director and former Carolina football player, remarked on the other noteworthy attendees of the event.
“I got to my table and the ultimate surprise was that I was sharing a table with Sally Brown, wife of Coach Mack Brown [a former UNC Football Coach], one of the greatest teachers I ever had in my entire life. Welcome home, Sally,” Steinbacher said.
Full List Of Inductees:
WCHL’s own Jim Heavner
Stein, Bill, and Jesse Basnight Sr. of S.h. Basnight & Sons, INC
Michael Barefoot of Southern Season
Mildred Council of Mama Dip’s
Orville Camplbell of The Chapel Hill Weekly
Ted and Edward Danziger of Restaurateurs
Mickey Ewell of Chapel Hill Restaurant Group
R.B. and Jenny Fitch of Fitch Creations
Mac Fitch of Fitch Lumber and Hardware
George Wattes Hill, Sr. of Central Carolina Bank
Frank Kenan of Kenan Oil and Kenan Transport
Mel Rashkis of Mel Rashkis & Associates