Coffee shops, however popular they may be, are still uncharted treasures. Most people don’t realize just how multipurpose these places can be – they are meeting spots, date locations, work spaces, shelter from the elements, and, quite obviously, a source for food and drink. Chapel Hill is home to unique independent coffee shops that manage to be all of these things at once. Not only that, but some of these coffee shops are equipped with fast free WiFi for working use, perfect for students and workers alike. Here are three shops to be sure to try for a change of scenery, a cool new place to work, and, most of all, a great cup of coffee.
Joe Van Gogh
Joe Van Gogh’s Chapel Hill shop is located in Timberlyne Shopping Center. Other Joe Van Gogh shops scattered about around Durham and Hillsborough. Joe Van Gogh’s pride and joy is its artisan coffee, made by baristas who are “true to their craft.” The Chapel Hill location is bustling with life, but maintains a welcoming, bright atmosphere, with lots of seating and table space, ample light fixtures, and floor-to-ceiling windows lining the front of the shop.
“This is a very friendly place. People coming in knowing each other, knowing the baristas, too – a lot of people know each other here,” says Alex Craig, a manager and barista at Joe Van Gogh. It is clear that everyone is welcome to eat, drink, and work at Joe Van Gogh, from all ages and all walks of life. The abundant tabletop seating makes this a great place for group work, while corners with two-seaters tucked away are perfect for the (hopeful) productive introvert.
However, as it should be, the best part about Joe Van Gogh is the coffee. “We take pride in having a good product, and also being welcoming about it,” says Craig. “Our lattes are really popular; people can customize them however they want. We also serve cold brew iced coffee on tap. We’re one of the only shops in the area that does this.” As for food, Joe Van Gogh serves delicious fresh baked goods – their Danishes are about as perfect as a Danish can get. Joe Van Gogh is fast-paced yet friendly, unique yet welcoming. Drop in for some of the best artisan coffee in Chapel Hill, and stay for the unmatched warmth and camaraderie.
Where’s the WiFi password?: In front of the cash register
Where you can find them: 1129 Weaver Dairy Rd AD, Chapel Hill, NC 27514
Market Street Coffeehouse
The unassuming Market Street Coffeehouse dwells in an equally unassuming shopping center on South Elliott Road, but don’t let location fool you: Market Street Coffeehouse is a cozy, laidback junction of peace, laden with space and rich with color and personality. The aesthetic of the place is two-parts industrial, one-part earthy. Plucky bluegrass plays at a soft volume in the background, and unlike most independent coffee shops, the sounds of coffee-making machines are minimal. When asked to describe Market Street Coffeehouse in a few words, manager Jon Ackley says, “Laid-back, friendly, and most importantly, full of good coffee.”
Market Street Coffeehouse strives to create a unique, all-purpose environment centered on great coffee. The lattes here are a hit all year round, while their sharp iced coffees fly off counters most in the summertime. Great coffee is not the only on the menu at Market Street Coffeehouse. The Chapel Hill location displays a beautiful assortment of NC specialty foods, chocolates, and cocktail mixers as well. Market Street Coffeehouse further sets itself apart with its recreational offerings. The back corners of the shop house a board game collection (“We have fifty-five board games back there to play,” says Ackley) as well as a lending library stocked with books for customers to read.
“The atmosphere of this place really drew me in,” Ackley says, reminiscing about how he began working at Market Street Coffeehouse. “I’ve worked at other coffee shops, and this is the only one that broke that snobby specialty coffee shop stereotype.” Looking around the place, at the extensive menu and upscale layout, it’s possible to mistake a place like Market Street Coffeehouse for another pretentious artisan coffee trap. However, as in all aspects of this place, looks are deceiving. Market Street Coffeehouse has far too much goodness and too calming an atmosphere to overlook.
Where’s the WiFi password?: In front of the cash register
Where you can find them: 227 S Elliott Rd, Chapel Hill, NC 27514
La Vita Dolce
La Vita Dolce is quite unlike any other coffee shop in Chapel Hill or beyond, and this is known as well to customers as it is to those who work there. La Vita Dolce fits right in to the warm, polished environment that Chapel Hill’s Southern Village offers. The shop’s main attraction is its delicious gelato, but this shop also sells arrayed coffees and beverages as well. The crowd-pleaser? “Our nitrogen tap coffee,” says Erin Farmer, manager at La Vita Dolce. “We cold brew our coffee by soaking grounds for sixteen hours. This makes the coffee less acidic and a bit frothier and creamier.” Decadence is the name of the game with this drink, and just about every other option at La Vita Dolce.
La Vita Dolce is fairly small in size, and seating can be minimal, but since the shop is so unique and a bit further tucked away from students’ usual shops in Carrboro, for the most part, it’s perfectly possible to find a seat here. The shop operates at a slightly higher volume than the average coffee shop, with a fair dose of chatter in the busy hours and the constant of pop music playing at mid-level in the background. Still, this mostly just acts as white noise; plenty of customers at La Vita Dolce can work productively without issue.
Sweetness is the inimitable draw to La Vita Dolce. “I love working here because I love the customers,” says Farmer. “Everyone is so friendly, and I love that I’m able to experiment with flavors and be part of a team that creates.” The concoctions La Vita Dolce serves are nothing short of decadent wonder. Also, there’s nothing quite like pouring over a book with a cup of gelato in hand. From its sweet offerings to its sweet atmosphere, just about everything in La Vita Dolce is worth a try.
Where’s the WiFi password?: Ask a barista
Where you can find them: 610 Market St, Chapel Hill, NC 27516
Coffee shops, especially those in Chapel Hill, have far more to offer than just a caffeine fix. As summer draws to a close and work kicks into high gear once again, plan a visit to one of these independent gems.http://chapelboro.com/lifestyle/perk-up-your-work-three-free-wifi-coffee-shops-in-chapel-hill
The Town of Chapel Hill is conducting a study to receive feedback for traffic concerns and solutions on the streets in Southern Village.
The meeting is at 6:30 Tuesday evening in Ascension Hall at the Christ United Methodist Church.
On Sunday, December 6, an organization called the Fill Your Bucket List Foundation will host a fun run called the Holly Jolly Jog, from 4-9 pm at Southern Village. The run begins at 5 pm with registration starting at 4; activities will include a one-mile dash and a 5K run, plus an auction, food, music and a tree lighting.
The event will benefit the Fill Your Bucket List Foundation, a local nonprofit that got its start just a year ago in August of 2014. Its mission: to help adult cancer patients “fill their bucket lists” by giving them the opportunity to experience the things they’ve always wanted to do.
Executive director Peggy Carroll says she was inspired to start the foundation from her own personal experience. She says she originally hoped to help two people a year – but in the first 12 months, the Fill Your Bucket List Foundation was able to help eight people, and she’s hoping for even more growth in the future. Carroll says most of the people she works with have simple requests – some want to travel or have big adventures, but many simply want the chance to spend more time with distant relatives.
Peggy Carroll spoke this week with WCHL’s Aaron Keck.
Everyone’s invited to participate in Sunday’s event. Get more information here, including a link to register.http://chapelboro.com/news/news-around-town/holly-jolly-jog-will-help-make-bucket-list-wishes-come-true
Six Chapel Hill Fire Department trucks responded to a report of a structure fire just before one o’clock Tuesday afternoon at 500 Market Street in the Southern Village Neighborhood.
Authorities say the call was received from an alarm monitoring company as a fire alarm activation, before being elevated to a structure fire.
Spokesperson Lisa Edwards said in a press release that the sprinkler system in the unit extinguished the fire and firefighters investigated to ensure the fire had not spread.
The cause of the fire was determined to be cooking related. There were no injuries reported.
Edwards says cooking is the number one cause of home fires and home injuries.http://chapelboro.com/news/safety/crews-respond-to-fire-in-southern-village
After seven years of planning, the Southern Village neighborhood will get a new hotel.
Developers and elected officials leaned on golden shovels Thursday to break ground on the five-story Hyatt Place hotel. The facility will include 110 guest rooms as well as indoor and outdoor meeting space.
Though many were on hand to celebrate the occasion, the road to get to that point was at times rocky. When developer D.R. Bryan first suggested building a hotel in the heart of Southern Village back in late 2008, residents of the neighborhood responded with such vehement dismay that the proposal was tabled.
Fast forward five years and the concept of a hotel in the mixed-use village resurfaced, though this time at the edge of the development instead of at its center.
This change made all the difference, as those residents formerly opposed to the plan lined up before the town council to support it. It was unanimously approved in October, 2013, but negotiations over construction pricing delayed the start of the project.
Once the hotel opens in the summer of 2016, business owners on Market Street hope it will add a third retail anchor to the area to complement the Lumina Theater and Weaver Street Market.http://chapelboro.com/news/business/officials-break-ground-on-new-southern-village-hotel
Photo via SuperCoopersWagon.org.
On Saturday, September 20, Southern Village will play host to the fifth annual Super Cooper’s Rockin’ Run and Family Festival – an event to raise funds for an organization that helps families struggling with childhood cancer.
Founded by Southern Village residents Elise and Justin Herman in honor of their son Cooper, the Super Cooper Festival has raised more than $400,000 in its first four years. This year’s event will include a 5K run, live music, food trucks, kids’ games, a live auction with former UNC basketball star Eric Montross, a performance by the Bouncing Bulldogs, and more.
It’s all to raise money for the Little Red Wagon Foundation, started by the Hermans after their own experience seeking medical treatment for Cooper, who was diagnosed with brain cancer at the age of 2. Without the help of friends, family, and supportive organizations, Elise says, the cost of travel and housing would have been as much of a burden as the cost of the treatment itself. Elise and Justin started the Little Red Wagon Foundation shortly thereafter, to raise funds to help house and support families going through the same experience – and even though Cooper passed away this year, at the age of just 6, their commitment to that mission hasn’t wavered.
Elise and Justin Herman joined WCHL’s Aaron Keck on the air Wednesday, along with George Linney of Fleet Feet, which is supporting the festival.
Visit SuperCoopersWagon.org for more details about the event and the foundation.
You might smell smoke or see flames near Southern Village next week, but fire officials say there’s no cause for alarm. The Chapel Hill Fire Department will conduct firefighting training exercises that will involve controlled burning of three homes.
Deputy Chief Matt Lawrence says that’s rare opportunity for the department.
“It’s really important that we’re able to do this type of training because it’s as real as we can possibly make it for our fire-responders,” say Lawrence.
The houses, located along 15-501 South between Arlen Park Drive and Market Street, are scheduled to be demolished to make way for the new Southern Village hotel. But first, firefighters will have a chance to hone their skills in a live fire.
“The majority of our training is conducted in our training center, which is a concrete and steel building that we can light fires in, but it is very difficult to recreate fire behavior and how fire moves through an actual wood frame structure, so this is a good opportunity,” says Lawrence.
The department will burn one house each day from Monday through Wednesday. All fire crews will have a chance to participate.
One southbound lane of 15-501 will be closed starting at 9 a.m. during the drills, but the lane should be reopened in time for the afternoon rush hour.
Here’s the full text of the department’s press release:
On August 4, 5, and 6, 2014, The Chapel Hill Fire Department will be conducting live burn fire training along US 15-501 South between Arlen Park Drive and Market Street. The training will begin at 9:00 a.m. and conclude by 4:00 p.m. each day.
For the safety of emergency personnel involved in the training, the right lane of US 15-501 South will be closed between Arlen Park Drive and Market Street during these exercises. Motorists are urged to use caution throughout these closures.
Those close to this area may experience the odor of smoke and see flames visible. There will be an electronic signage board indicating the training area to clearly identify to citizens and residents where the training event is taking place.
While we expect to have smoke and visible flames at the training site, if you encounter a situation that causes you concern, do not hesitate to call 911 and make a report.http://chapelboro.com/news/safety/chapel-hill-fire-dept-plans-live-fire-training-near-southern-village
What is the future of development in Chapel Hill? The Chapel Hill Town Council will be making a pair of big decisions on Monday.
That’s when the Council votes on whether to approve a development agreement for the Glen Lennox neighborhood – and whether to proceed to the negotiation phase on another development in the works, Obey Creek.
Located just across 15/501 from Southern Village, the 120-acre Obey Creek site represents the next big phase of the ongoing discussion around development and redevelopment in Chapel Hill. (Since the town’s new comprehensive plan was approved in 2012, Chapel Hill has begun moving forward on several “future focus” areas, including Central West, Rosemary Street, and Ephesus/Fordham as well as Glen Lennox.)
Developer Roger Perry of East-West Partners has proposed a 1.5 million square foot development for the site, with 600-700 residential units, 327,000 square feet of retail (including a large anchor store, perhaps a ‘big box’), and a hotel. The proposed development would cover 35 of the 120 acres, with the rest conserved for public use, wilderness preservation, and a possible future school.
Reaction to Perry’s proposal has been mixed, at least so far. (No surprise: the discussion process is still in the early stages.) Residents and town officials generally agree that some development ought to take place at the Obey Creek site, if only to generate more retail spending: fewer dollars are spent on retail in Orange County than in any of the surrounding counties, and that in turn forces Chapel Hill’s tax burden disproportionately onto property owners. (The Town Council, indeed, just approved a one-cent property tax increase.)
But some have objected to certain features of Perry’s proposal. Its large scale is one concern: some have proposed a smaller development, closer to 750,000 square feet than 1.5 million. (Perry has argued, in response, that a certain level of density is necessary to make the project financially viable.) Others have expressed concerns about the environmental effects, pedestrian and bike accessibility, and the impact on traffic on 15/501 (which is already busy in that area). And still others have emphasized the need to make sure that Obey Creek has a “sense of place”: aesthetically pleasing, with a real connection to Southern Village and a feeling of being Chapel Hill’s southern ‘gateway.’ (Some residents involved in the discussion have held up the East 54 development – also Perry’s – as a cautionary example in this vein: the East 54 development isn’t as inviting as it could be, they say, because drivers along Route 54 can only see the backs of the buildings.)
Last year, the Town of Chapel Hill appointed 17 residents to a committee, to study the proposal, solicit public feedback, and provide recommendations on moving forward. On December 16 of last year, the Obey Creek Compass Committee submitted its final 43-page report.
Committee members say they have some concerns about the proposal that’s currently on the table, but they’re confident the disagreements can be worked out before final approval from the Town Council.
And all of these discussions are taking place in the wake of Chatham County’s recent approval of Chatham Park – a massive development that’s set to add about 60,000 residents to Pittsboro over the next three decades. (Pittsboro’s current population is about 3,000.) How that will affect development in Chapel Hill – or the entire Triangle, for that matter – remains to be seen.
Two weeks ago, WCHL’s Jim Heavner spoke at length with Roger Perry about the Obey Creek project and the state of development in Chapel Hill.
And last week, Aaron Keck welcomed several key town officials and Compass Committee members into the studio to talk about Obey Creek – as well as Glen Lennox, Chatham Park, and development in general in Chapel Hill.
Listen to Part 1 of Aaron’s conversation with Jeanne Brown and Susan Lindsay of the Obey Creek Compass Committee:
And Part 2:
Listen to Aaron’s conversation with Chapel Hill Mayor Mark Kleinschmidt:
Listen to Part 1 of Aaron’s conversation with Kristen Smith of the Chapel Hill-Carrboro Chamber of Commerce:
And Part 2:
Finally, listen to Aaron’s conversation with Chapel Hill Economic Development Officer Dwight Bassett:
The Town Council meets on Monday night at 5:30 in the Southern Human Services Center.http://chapelboro.com/news/local-government/town-leaders-talk-obey-creek-glen-lennox-chatham-park
CHAPEL HILL – It took less than 24 hours to track down a man suspected of breaking and entering at multiple businesses in Southern Village.
Chapel Hill Police arrested 33-year-old Caleb Hopkirk-Ridlen Hill on 13 felony charges including breaking and entering, larceny, and injury to real property. The break-ins occurred early Thursday morning in the Market Street area of Southern Village.
“We received some surveillance footage of this case. […] Yesterday evening he was located I believe again on Market Street,” says Lieutenant Kevin Gunter of the Chapel Hill Police Department.
Hill was held in the Orange County Jail on a $25,000 secured bond.http://chapelboro.com/news/crime/so-village-commercial-robber-captured