Restaurant News & Reviews

Spanky’s, an iconic Chapel Hill restaurant, is ‘retiring’

Restaurants come and go on Franklin Street, but Spanky’s has been a constant.

But Saturday will be its last day as we know it. Owners announced Thursday night that they will be “retiring” Spanky’s on March 31 after 40 years.

The closing will be more of a reboot. Chapel Hill Restaurant Group, which owns Spanky’s, has plans to open a new restaurant in the location next month, said Greg Overbeck, one of the owners and marketing director for the group.

He wasn’t ready to reveal the new concept or name on Friday. But, he said the new menu will be more affordable and more casual.

Spanky’s, at 101 E. Franklin St., has been at the corner of Franklin and Columbia streets since 1977, according to its website, and is often right outside students’ basketball celebrations. The cozy restaurant, with an event space on the second floor, was known for shrimp and grits, sandwiches and good burgers.

“We can’t thank the public enough for their support over the years,” Overbeck said.

He said while the restaurant is busy on game days and has its regulars, it had seen a decline in customers in recent years. With last month’s retirement of Spanky’s original owner Mickey Ewell, the timing seemed right, Overbeck said.

The new restaurant will have a slight cosmetic renovation.

That means that the caricatures of famous UNC graduates, including many athletes, that decorate the walls will come down.

Overbeck said he likely will keep some for himself for sentimental reasons but that there may be a charity auction to find homes for the rest of them.

As word spread Friday, restaurant fans took to social media to express their disappointment with the common comment being a variation of “No!”

The restaurant group also owns 411 West and Squids in Chapel Hill and Mez Contemporary Mexican in Research Triangle Park and Page Road Grill and in Durham and a catering operation. Other owners of the group are Pete Dorrance and Kenny Carlson.

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