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Jul 26, 2011 10:45 AM

Cypress on the Hill closes (Chapel Hill)

Got an e-mail blast from the owners this morning that they have closed effective immediately. Had one pretty decent meal there, and obviously the chef had skill having been the chef de cuisine of Magnolia Grill for a number of years. They just opened up at the wrong time given the economy.

This is now two significant blows for the downtown Chapel Hill area with Bonne Soiree closing a few months ago.

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  1. Oh, no! I've had some great meals there. Gosh, this is so sad.

    1. I'm sure the ridiculous rental rates on Franklin Street didn't help.

      1. That's too bad. It seems to be a tough price point in the market given the economy and the location

        1. I hate this, that place was great.

          1. Thanks, Chapel Hill Town Council. Look at all the nice cars, BMWs, Porsches, Benzs, Lexuses parked near Magnolia Grill, Nana's, Four Square and so on in Durham. How many parking meters in Chapel Hill? Let me count them -- oh, as many as there are stars in the heavens. Look at all those meter maids and tow trucks and angry parking lot owners of vacant parking lots. Let's ask how being bicycle friendly and oh-so-green and begger-friendly translates into selling high-end restaurant meals. Then let's make reservations at a nice place in Durham. These days, even the Durham Farmer's Market is better than Carrboro's, and you can park your car too! As an AARP person, why would I ever take myself to downtown Chapel Hill for shopping, and I live in Chapel Hill and have since the1960s.

            Four Square Restaurant
            2701 Chapel Hill Rd., Durham, NC 27707

            Farmer's Market Cafe
            63 Chattahoochee St, Helen, GA 30545

            19 Replies
            1. re: igopogo

              When did Chapel Hill become this liberal!?!

              1. re: Naco

                In spite of all of this, Elaines, Lantern, Crooks, Jujube, Bin 54, etc. manage with entree prices at $20+ (obviously Elaine's is the most direct comparison). I'd guess it is a tough price point for a new place to break in to. Particularly with such fine restaurants in the area that are already established. I'll take a flyer on a place where dinner for 2 will run me $30-50. When the average check is closer to $100, I'm sticking to places I know deliver value.

                Also, I may be remembering incorrectly, but didn't Cypress have a dedicated parking lot? When that location was the hiking store, it had at least a handful of spots. Plus there is free valet in the evenings a few blocks up near West End Wine Bar. Finally, are meters in downtown CH not free when any normal person is eating dinner, I thought they were 8-6 or something? There are lots of things conspiring against restaurants but I don't think Chapel Hill's politics is big among them.

                West End Wine Bar
                450 W Franklin St, Chapel Hill, NC 27516

                Bin 54
                1201 M Raleigh Rd., Chapel Hill, NC 21517

                  1. re: brokegradstudent

                    Parking meters are free in CH from 6 pm on, and they'll forgive the first ticket each year if you write to them and ask. I live walking distance, but occasionally drive down if time is important, and I really don't ever have a problem. But, I have heard so many complaints (and the recent stuff at the Vespa/Noodle Factory parking lot sounds pretty outrageous), so it seems there must be problems at certain times. But brokegradstudent is right - there was a parking lot for Cypress on the Hill.

                    Given the choice between Elaines and Cypress on the Hill, after 2 tries at CotH, Elaine's won that contest every time. But heck, that's whey they have chocolate *and* vanilla.

                1. re: igopogo

                  With all due respect this reasoning doesn't make much sense. First, Cypress had their own parking area. Besides, if you drive a nice car and are willing to spend $100+ on a meal is a couple of bucks on parking really a deterrent? Also it's at least that much on the extra gas to get out to the nice restaurants in Durham in the above post-- not to mention the extra time involved.

                  1. re: bbqme

                    This is a bummer. For the Mrs and I Cypress on the Hill was among our favorite restaurants in the area. On Franklin Street, it was second only to Lantern, in my opinion.

                    We'll miss Cypress on the Hill.

                    1. re: bbqme

                      Although I suspect a lot of other things went into the closing of Cypress than the parking meters, I can at least relate a bit to igopogo having leaved in Chapel Hill / Carrboro for a few years. Everyone complained about parking there but in actuality there was plenty to be had--it just wasn't free. Around these parts though I think having to pay to park can just be infuriating even if the cost / inconvenience is not a big deal.

                      In many ways, Chapel Hill always struck me as a City of 60,000 people that thought it was a town of 30,000 but really wanted to be a village of 15,000.

                      1. re: Guilty Gourmand

                        I've lived in CH-C since 1993 and have witnessed a lot of growth. The only way to offer free parking would be to build monstrous parking garages (where would they put it?) like the ones on Rosemary and that would ruin the downtown atmosphere IMO. Also, the garages would need to be paid for so now I get "free" parking but have to pay even higher property taxes.

                      2. re: bbqme

                        Thank you for saying this. I've been in CH/Carrboro for 11 years. I've never been towed, and only ticketed a few times (on campus, for parking in all day in a 2-hour service spaces, 100% my fault). I also very rarely find myself having to pay for parking, and even when I do it's never more than a few dollars, and I never have to walk more than 1/2 block from wherever I parked to my intended destination. Even with the closure of the Church St. lot, parking is reasonably easy to find if you're willing to walk a block.

                        1. re: mpjmph

                          That's not been my experience. Twice in the past six months the valet parking near The Lantern has turned me away with "We're full'. There was no parking on the street anywhere near there. Once I let my passengers out and walked eight blocks against doctor's orders. The other time we just went home and cooked. I was ticketed in a lot for being five minutes overtime going to Lime and Basil. Going to The Mint requires a lot of quarters, and at 15 minutes per quarter, one has to judge ones meal pace well. The zoo that is parking behind Vimalya's means that take out dining needs parking fees. Though I'm pleased to hear that others have little trouble with Chapel Hill on-street or valet parking for dinner (really, on Saturday evening?) near the Lantern, Elaine's, Tallulah's, and the Mint, my experience has been very different.

                          1. re: igopogo

                            I go to VImala's all the time & the parking lot behind is no zoo. If you have all these problems, just go out on a quieter night.

                            1. re: igopogo

                              Good news, according to the CH News - the lot next to the Lantern, which has something like 45 spaces, will be opening in the next month. I assume this will be parking you'll have to pay for, but it IS parking.

                            2. re: mpjmph

                              Continuing, FYI. Today's Chapel Hill News has as their lead article a story on tow trucks in CH, and the mess that towing+parking unavailability is producing for businesses like restaurants (e.g. Lime and Basil). The letters page is also full of letters on this, including one from someone who was towed while dining at Cypress, saying that CH is too difficult to visit for such celebratory dining.

                              1. re: igopogo

                                The article also points out that the parking problem is due to new construction, which will include 120 new underground parking spaces.

                          2. re: igopogo

                            I never went to Cyprus on the Hill because their online menu was incredibly boring. Maybe the execution was great, but there was nothing about the food that pulled me in.

                            1. re: durhamois

                              I thought their menu items filled an otherwise unrepresented space of using local ingredients and many ingredients in the Magnolia Grill style, while adding an Asian touch to it. Not the same as Lantern that is full-on Asian in its assessment.

                              For example, I found the Spicy Flash Fried Whole NC B-Liner Snapper, Soba Noodle & Tomato Confit Salad, Ginger Soy Glazed Green Beans & Spicy Sambal Butter Sauce to be a very successful and complex interplay of flavors. Not boring in the slightest.

                              1. re: mikeh

                                I take your word for it that the food was good. Whenever I checked out their menu, however, everything was, like, "Pan seared blah blah, with a summer vegetable whatever, Yukon gold puree, and a such and such jus." Nothing sounded bad, it just all sounded very predictable, like things I had seen on a hundred other restaurant menus. There's nothing particularly wrong with that, I'm just giving a possible explanation for why it may have failed to pull diners away from other restaurants to eat there. When I think about the other restaurants I like in Chapel Hill -- Lantern, Bin 54, Kitchen, Jujube -- they all offer something unique that I can't find anywhere else is the area.

                                Bin 54
                                1201 M Raleigh Rd., Chapel Hill, NC 21517

                                1. re: mikeh

                                  There is a way in which the above dish sounds very very busy. I like a lot of bold flavors in my food, but not conflicting bold flavors. Tomatoes with ginger and sambal? Butter? I know, I know, this does show up together in some asian cuisines, and it is just one of my weird things, but too many flavors tend to just become a mishmash. The more ingredients I see on a menu description, the warier I become. but it DOES seem to be a trend.

                                2. re: durhamois

                                  Same here I never got the urge to eat at Cypress and often heard it was mediocre. The only time I had an encounter with their staff was when I was returning a platter they used for a fundraiser at The Arts Center in Carrboro and they were a bit rude or maybe it was pretentiousness. Then again if I'm going to Chapel Hill to eat it is most likely going to be at some place not to high scale like Elaines and more along the lines of Med. Deli.