By Laurie Paolicelli
This long and arduous year imposed on us and the world a darkness we have never known, but we were guided by the light of the heroes among us, some of whom came from surprising corners, providing hospitality, food, warmth, showing us what calm in a crisis looks like.
At press time most businesses are starting to re-open, welcoming locals, visiting friends and family, still taking care, and staying safe.
Without question our local governments and university rank first and foremost on the tourism industry’s list of gratitude. Without the support of loan funds, grants, access to testing sites, food for families in need, free parking for take-out and more, we wouldn’t be the community we are.
Others went above and beyond in different ways.
We hope to continue to spotlight all the good works out there in subsequent editions of Orange Slices — there are so many of you. But for now, and from the bottom of hearts, thank you!
As stay-at-home orders rolled out across the country, Kevin Callaghan, chef/owner of Acme Food and Beverage in Carrboro, N.C., considered offering takeout. But he had a sense that businesses could do better if they banded together, so Carrboro United was launched – a local food hub program that allows consumers to pick up food from local restaurants and farmers three times a week. Launched by former Fleet Feet Sports CEO Tom Raynor, Acme Food & Beverage Co. and a team of local leaders, it’s still making life easier for so many.
Atma Hotels for working with The Inter-Faith Council for Social Service, providing housing for those experiencing homelessness. Atma Hotels operates Quality Inn, Hampton Carrboro, Sheraton Chapel Hill and Courtyard by Marriott Chapel Hill.
Vimala’s for finding a way to feed those in need. Under her direction, the Curry Blossom Restaurant (downtown Chapel Hill) and Foundation has donated 100 quarts of food to the Refugee Support Center in Carrboro and 1,600 meals to local hospitals. A collaboration between Vimala’s and the Marian Cheek Jackson Center provides food for elders across Northside neighborhood in Chapel Hill.
TOPO Distillery (sister company to Top of the Hill restaurant) for producing over 1000 gallons of hand sanitizer following the World Health Organization official recipe, donating around half to COVID-19 first responders and selling the rest in 18 oz. bottles to community members. Vodka into hand sanitizer: now if they can only reverse the process.
Mandy Brown owner, Imbibe Cajun Kitchen. Take-out and delivery remained strong because Imbibe rocks: muffalettas on bread from Gambino’s Bakery; po boys served on Leidenheimer New Orleans French Bread; fried gulf oysters; blackened catfish and shrimp; gumbo; Cindy’s Creole crab bisque; and NOLA garlic butter shrimp.
Orange County’s Visitors Bureau for working this past year with James Taylor’s management company on a future interactive exhibit for their new space at 308 W. Franklin Street. Thanks to their efforts, James Taylor has agreed to produce a live singalong wall and video with his full band of “Carolina In the My Mind,” encouraging visitors to sing along. And James will record a special welcome video as well.
Thanks to UNC Visitors Center for opening up to service guests who are committed to higher education for their families.
Colonial Inn for having the courage to open during the pandemic, bringing Hillsborough visitors what they deserve: a celebrated B&B in the heart of a historic downtown. Reservations are now being accepted for weddings and other happy celebrations, including Sunday brunch.
Giorgios Nikolas Bakatsias, the Southeast’s most prolific and visionary restaurateur opened a new experience for his beloved Kipos (means Garden in Greek) to give locals and visitors a garden Mediterranean experience in the Eastgate Mall.
Whit’s Custard in Hillsborough. How do you generate such long lines, so many smiles? Must be the flavors, from German Chocolate Cake to Licorice, Key Lime and Bing Cherry Cheesecake! Thanks, Whit’s.
Nathan Milian, Property Manager for Carr Mill Mall, Carrboro who has worked untiringly to help tenants make it through these tough economic times. Fragrance Store, Sophia’s, Mulberry Silks and Head Over Heels – and more – while at the same time prioritizing safety and ease of access.
We could go on, and we will. Meanwhile, here’s to a safe and healthy summer. Enjoy!
Laurie Paolicelli is the Executive Director of the Chapel Hill/Orange County Visitors Bureau.