The buzz on Franklin Street

September 5, 2010 

Barbara Rich

Gallery director - FRANK

109 E. Franklin St.

The street's newest art gallery opened in April and is a collective of 81 artists who sell and showcase their work. The gallery features new shows every three weeks and will host the North Carolina Clay Invitational in September. Thursday night salons have also become a regular feature, where artists and community groups host free discussions about art.

"Art has this bad rep of being elite, and we're looking to kind of bust that bubble and have art be accessible and approachable," Rich said. "If things are bad try to make things that make [people] feel better rather than things that don't last."

Ryan Hill

Manager - Clothing Warehouse

109 E. Franklin St., Suite 101

One of the newer clothing stores on East Franklin, Clothing Warehouse is among a few retail stores open until 10 most nights. Known in Chapel Hill for its cowboy boots, the store has a collection of 1,400 dresses and 1,300 vintage shirts from the 1940s through the '80s.

Hill says the shop may begin hosting local bands in its showcase window to bring more people downtown.

"I really think Franklin Street needs something," Hill said. "We're [the] latest store open [so] it gives people something to do ... We're very real here. It's all about communicating with people and finding what they want ... everything in here is the originals of Urban Outfitters."

Ted Kairys

Kairys Properties - The Courtyard

431 W. Franklin St.

"Urban" and "funky" are the words Kairys uses to describe the new apartments he is planning above The Courtyard on West Franklin Street. Apartments are planned to open next August, but Kairys says the synergy between the residential and retail tenants of the property will bring a fresh face to the west side.

"When I think of the mix of retailers that will be here and the life of people living here, I think that will help bridge the east and west side of town," Kairys said. "When you set us loose in a place like this, it's awesome ... it goes from a ghost town and the stigma that was attached to this property for five years goes away."

Cheryle "Toots" Jernigan-Wicker

Director - Toots & Magoo

142 E. Franklin St.

Jernigan-Wicker grew up in Chapel Hill. Her parents owned a bakery on Franklin Street, and she went to high school where University Square now sits on the west side of the street.

She returned after 35 years on the west coast and opened "Toots & Magoo" on the far east end of Franklin Street in May 2008 with her friend, Margaret "Magoo" Pearson. The shop stands out among a string of restaurants on the block, selling paper, scarves, jewelry and gifts from all over the world.

"We try to keep the focus on well-made, well-priced items, many from artists who are just starting out," she said.

The shop hosts free French soirees every Thursday, where customers can speak French and mingle, but Jernigan-Wicker said the town hasn't done much to attract more small retailers downtown.

"There doesn't seem like a lot to encourage small business to come," Jernigan-Wicker said.

Alex Gallis

Owner and executive chef - Cypress On The Hill

308 W. Franklin St.

Gallis grew up in Chapel Hill and has seen the turnaround the west side of the street has undergone.

"I've always loitered around Franklin Street; this town definitely has a sweet spot in my heart," he said. Gallis specializes in refining classic Southern food, and infusing Greek and Mediterranean flavors into his dishes. He buys much of the food from local farmers.

"I have seen a lot of interest in reviving this side" of the street, he said. "I think it's come a long way in the last five to 10 years ... it's still not quite the east end, but I'd like to see it get to a point where it's just Franklin Street."

Tim Ross

Resident - Greenbridge Condominiums

400 W. Rosemary St.

As one of the first residents of Greenbridge, Ross, 36, has enjoyed melding work, home and night life. The computer programmer decided to downsize from a three bedroom house in Carrboro to the one-bedroom condominium in the über-green complex near Franklin Street's west side.

He moved in July and now bikes to work at UNC-CH.

"It's kind of blurring the distinction of my personal home space and where I frequent," he said. "I think Franklin Street is really vibrant and Carrboro is really vibrant, and that's one thing that attracted me to live here."

Compiled by staff writer Katelyn Ferral

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