Chefs James Clark and Bill Hartley have left The Carolina Inn in Chapel Hill to open a seafood restaurant in Pittsboro.
Clark and Hartley met about nine years ago working at the Grand Dunes resort in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina. When Clark took the job as executive chef at The Carolina Inn, a historic hotel and restaurant in Chapel Hill, in 2011, Hartley joined him as executive sous chef.
Their last day at the Carolina Inn was June 22. Now they have their minds set on opening Postal Fish Company in the old post office in downtown Pittsboro. They haven’t signed a lease yet but are raising money to pay for an architecture to draw up plans for the space.
They are trying to raise $7,000 by Aug. 6. So far, 16 people have donated about $1,400. For details, go to kickstarter.com/projects/735798926/postal-fish-company-3d-renderings-and-webdesign
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Clark and Hartley envision Postal Seafood Company as a casual, full-service restaurant committed to serving fresh seafood from the coast. The pair made a name for themselves serving the underutilized fish on the menu at the Carolina Inn, like striped bass and white grunts.
The chefs plan to make local seafood the focus of this new restaurant, tapping into the relationships they have built with fishermen, oystermen, crabbers and shrimpers in Virginia, South Carolina and North Carolina. Twice a week, either Clark or Hartley plan to drive to the coast to buy whole fish and seafood for the restaurant. “We’re going to cut out the middleman to procure fish,” Clark explained.
Fish and seafood won’t be the only items on the menu; the men say they will be serving locally-sourced meat, poultry and produce. “You won’t have to be a fish lover to get a great meal there,” Clark said.
The men see Pittsboro as a great location for their restaurant given the upcoming Chatham Park, a 7,200-acre residential and community development that is zoned for 22,000 homes north of Pittsboro. They hope to open the restaurant by late 2017.