Iconic Chapel Hill eatery Crook’s Corner is being sold to new local ownership and is bringing in a new chef. The News & Observer highlighted the change in a large story earlier this month.

The restaurant situated at the corner of Franklin Street and Merritt Mill Road where Chapel Hill gives way to Carrboro has been a local food staple for more than 30 years. Its culinary clout has drawn nationwide attention to the eatery and its chef Bill Smith.

But after 25 years, Smith said he is excited to see what lies ahead for Crook’s.

“Although I’ve enjoyed it, I’m glad to not be in charge soon,” Smith said. “Justin Burdett, who’s coming in behind me, is just a doll baby, and I’m really loving having him in the kitchen right now. And I think people need not fear about Crook’s changing beyond recognition.

“It’ll evolve, as it did with me. But I think it’s in good hands.”

Smith said that the search for the restaurant’s next chef fell into place.

“It was sort of serendipity; it was friends of friends,” he said. “It sort of fell in my lap. So, I didn’t have to look. It just came my way.

The new chef is making his way in from Asheville, a city with a large restaurant scene of its own.

The N&O is reporting that a new ownership group – including Gary Crunkleton, who owns The Crunkleton bar on Franklin Street – has purchased the building the restaurant calls home.

The James Beard Foundation named Crook’s Corner to its America’s Classics list.