Elmo’s co-founder plans new restaurant

May. 26, 2014 @ 07:41 AM

Carrboro Elmo’s owners eye new Carrboro eatery:  The owners of Elmo’s Diner in Carrboro are looking to partner to open a new restaurant in Carr Mill Mall called Café Symmetry.

They have a lease for the space at the mall that was previously occupied by the Italian restaurant Panzanella, which closed last year.

Cindy McMahan, one of the co-founders of Elmo’s and a partner in the planned new business, said the lease is contingent on the team successfully closing on financing for the project. They’re hoping to close on the financing in about 30 days.

Nathan Milian, property manager for Carr Mill Mall, said the old Panzanella space will require extensive renovations, so the planned new restaurant – if it moves forward – is not expected to open until late this year.

Elmo’s opened in Carrboro in 1991, and was followed by the Durham location in 1997. McMahan said she was one of the founders of the two restaurants, but she no longer is a co-owner of the Durham location.

The founders launched Elmo’s after working in the restaurant industry for years, she said. They had dreams of owning and operating their own business.

She was excited about opening a restaurant that would make affordable, delicious homemade food.

“I knew I would enjoy serving and building relationships with our customers in a diner,” she said in an email. “Diners are great in that they are a casual neighborhood atmosphere where you truly get to know the patrons, their stories, and the folks you work hard with each day.”

The concept for proposed new restaurant is “very different” than Elmo’s, she said.


Cocoa Cinnamon to open second shop: The owners of the downtown coffee shop Cocoa Cinnamon are planning to open a second location, this one at the corner of Hillsborough Road and Trent Drive.

They have signed a lease for 2627 Hillsborough Road, which was the previous location of the now-closed restaurant La Salamandra.

Leon Grodski de Barrera, one of the two co-founders of Cocoa Cinnamon, said in an email that the building is owned and is being developed by Linton Architects.

We're really excited because their plans look great,” he said. “The original building, without the wood and aluminum that have been added over the years, is all classic Durham brick.

In addition, he said they’re also working with the designer of their current shop and a series of local artists.

“It will be very much a grassroots effort, as our first shop has been,” he said.

This will be the second location behind the original shop that they opened last year at 420 W. Geer St., which is in a downtown hot spot of activity of Durham’s Central Park district.

Before opening the brick-and-mortar location, the owners operated the business as a mobile operation called bikeCOFFEE.

The husband-and-wife duo Leon Grodski de Barrera and Areli Barrera de Grodski launched the mobile business before opening their first brick-and-mortar location in what had, at one time, been an auto service station.
They raised money through the crowdfunding website Kickstarter to help pay for costs associated with opening the permanent shop in the location. They did their own renovations on the Geer Street space.


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