Psst... We're working on the next generation of Chowhound! View >
HOME > Chowhound > Southeast >
May 29, 2012 05:52 PM

Jim's Famous BBQ in Chapel Hill closed

I drove by tonight and saw for lease signs up. Had not been in a long time but can't say it's a suprise.

  1. Click to Upload a photo (10 MB limit)
  1. Yeah, I'm not surprised. I only went once, years ago when they were pretty new, and it was empty then. I'm surprised they lasted this long.

    1. I stated that although I'm not overly a fan of such things. Chapel Hill doesn't have a Japanese Steak House to my knowledge and that I thought that one would do very well. Seems like a prime place to put one no?

      Or Bojangles.

      27 Replies
      1. re: burgeoningfoodie

        laughed at your second paragraph.

        It certainly seems like a great location, and plenty big enough for another restaurant.

          1. re: chazzer

            I live nearby and would love a Bo but there's no way they could pull off a drive through there.

            1. re: LBD

              Well I was wondering because I wouldn't wanna take away from say Sunrise or Neal's or some local places that do biscuits just fine. I understand about the drive through. I thought it was a little nuts when the trucks delivering items there tried to get in there and yeah the line for the drive through would cause issues. Its a bit too big for something like a Dunkin but we have plenty of coffee places. I imagine the interior is nothing special and could be a Western Steer type layout. *shrugs* just my first two thoughts.

              1. re: burgeoningfoodie

                The interior is even less than nothing special. I remember it being very dark, and magically feeling both cramped and cavernous at the same time.

                1. re: mpjmph

                  Chapel Hill could use a good gastropub and that would be the perfect location for it.

                  1. re: bbqme

                    I'm not even sure I understand what a gastropub is anymore.

                    To that end I would vote for a decent seafood place that is NOT Squids..

                    1. re: burgeoningfoodie

                      I'd be all over a gastropub, if it was decent.

                        1. re: bbqme

                          I think that space would be a tough one for a "foodie" centric spot. Better to put a foodie spot closer to campus or in the boro of the Carr. I would love love a spot like Butcher & Bee or Two Borough's Larder from Charleston here. Both places are reasonably priced spots that take chances with their menus on things like offal and unique flavor combinations, like fried Shishito peppers with fried duck skin. I blame our low population density for the relative lack of culinary innovation vs. Charleston.

                          1. re: Tom from Raleigh

                            Does anyone remember that space before it was Jim's? (well, it was actually Red Hot and Blue right before Jim's, but I think still owned by Jim). I'm talking about maybe 20 years ago, when the building was first built. It was called McCartney's (I think) and again, I think, owned by the group that owns Spankys/Squids/411. Building was different then, with an open porch, and light and airy inside. They had a great brunch.

                            1. re: wintersummer

                              It was built way earlier than 20 years ago. At some point in the 1970s it was owned by one of the Barefoot brothers who started A Southern Season. It was a really good jazz place -- restaurant, stage, bar -- called "Stephen's After All" (sp?) I used to hear lots of first rate jazz there, among very few customers. I guess it had to be late 1970s since liquor by the drink was not around in the early 1970s. I have a vague memory of its being a glitzy restaurant before it was a jazz place, but someone who has better recall than I do needs to chime in ...

                          2. re: bbqme

                            Never been (to Federal). Heard too many reports that it was greasy and not worth it.

                            1. re: burgeoningfoodie

                              There is some very good food at the Federal. Probably not the place to take your parents, but a comfortable, funky place with good food.

                              1. re: LulusMom

                                Actually, we have taken our parents there, a couple in their 70's. It's the only place I've ever seen my MIL's husband finish an entire restaurant meal. And my father likes the burgers.

                                The big secret, though, is that The Federal is a great place for kids as long as you don't go during traditional bar hours. We and our friends have been bringing our kids since they were toddlers and the staff has always been very accomodating and there's always something on the menu the kids will eat. Shoot, now I've let the cat out of the bag. :-)

                                As long as you don't mind very low lighting and a funky vibe, I'd say the Federal is a good choice for a casual meal with nearly anyone.

                                1. re: rockycat

                                  My mother would definitely be up for it. But I think of my in-laws going there and imagine the look on their faces and I just KNOW it would be close to tragedy, in their minds. Agree on the kids thing.

                                  1. re: LulusMom

                                    I've taken the in-laws to Federal. It has a menu with a ton of familiar stuff. A person (unnamed) could order "chicken" and get something that "isn't scary and weird like Magnolia Grill [where we'd eaten the night before]"

                                    I like that Federal 1) does basics really well and 2) almost always has something interesting as a special. Also, nice rotation of beers on tap.

                                    1. re: brokegradstudent

                                      My mother-in-law is deeply offended if she sees me drinking beer from a bottle. She's that sort. Wouldn't suit her, no matter how good the food is.

                                  2. re: rockycat

                                    That's good advice...besides if you wait too late into the evening you run the risk of their running out of the best special menu items.

                                    Durham has several pubs/bars that serves good food: The Fed, Bull McCabe's, Dain's Place, Geer St. Garden to name a few. What' comparable in Chapel Hill? Spanky's perhaps? The food at Top of the Hill and Carolina Brewery was not very enjoyable the 2-3 times I've eaten there. Nearest decent place is Milltown in Carrboro.

                                    1. re: bbqme

                                      Totally agree with your assessment of Top of the Hill and Carolina Brewery. If you're willing to stretch CH to include Milltown, then I'd add Tylers to the list of bars with good food. Not everything on the menu is great, but there are some very tasty things (love the fish tacos), and an amazing selection of beer.

                                    2. re: rockycat

                                      i would like to make a side note that if you have kids, you may want to sit in the back room. i love the food, but their slinging of beer bottles into the trashcan is quite jarring. i remember trying to shield my son's ears because the sound of beer bottles slamming against each other is really piercing, at least for an old fogey like me.

                                  3. re: burgeoningfoodie

                                    I've never found the food to be the weak spot at The Federal. It's usually really good and greasy might be the last word I would use to describe it. The service I've found to hit and miss though.

                                    1. re: burgeoningfoodie

                                      Tough to complain about house-made papardelle with wild boar ragu or hangar steak at $12 a plate, especially when they're very good. The burger is one of the best in the Triangle and the braised pork sandwich is terrific. Sometimes the garlic fries can be more limp than I'd like, but with that much garlic, it's all good. My main complaint is that the restrooms seem to be designed for people the size of toy poodles. Otherwise, I'm happy to go their anytime.

                                      "Not worth it" is one of the lat statements I'd make about Federal.

                                      1. re: rockycat

                                        Couldn't have said it better - love the toy poodle observation!

                                        I've never brought anyone there who didn't enjoy the food.

                                        Service can be somewhat unmotivated and the wait can be a pita at peak times.

                              2. re: burgeoningfoodie

                                The Cookout folks could make a fortune there.

                                1. re: wvurx

                                  That is potentially true and so could Dunkin Donuts. The thing is that there are several types of similar places all around that area. Evos, Buns, the new burger place in University Mall and I don't mean that just towards a burger joint but for other options as well. I understand Cookouts appeal though.

                        2. I know 3 cups is right there but what if they build out the restaurant and turn it into a dedicated italian/french patisserie? Where things are actually housemade.

                          1. Anyways back to the post at hand... I would like to see a Yakitori or Izakaya place set here.

                            1. I'd circulate a petition to get a second location of Waraji to open there. The gas savings alone would pay for my sushi. Well, some of it.

                              1 Reply
                              1. re: emazzone

                                While sushi would be an option.. there are too many sushi places. I want something different and unique.