Fresh ingredients, fresh identity: Chapel Hill market to take on new name

Aug. 22, 2014 @ 06:15 PM

“Old friend, new name,” signs on the doors of Foster’s Market in Chapel Hill proclaim. Underneath is the restaurant’s new logo, informing customers that the company will soon be known as The Root Cellar.

The name change has been in the works for a long time, said Sera Cuni, co-owner of the market at 750 Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd., known for its fresh, local food. An employee for nine years, Cuni, along with her partner Susan White, bought the restaurant from original owner Sara Foster in 2013. Foster still owns and operates the Foster’s Market in Durham.

Foster “loves the name,” Cuni said. “We really want to make our own, and Sara wants us to make our own.”

Cuni and White brainstormed for months to come up with a name that would fit the store perfectly. Cuni said they brought in focus groups to ask regular customers’ opinions. But when they came up with The Root Cellar, it “pretty much stuck,” Cuni said.

“The name The Root Cellar has a lot of different meanings for us,” Cuni said. She explained that the market has strong roots in Chapel Hill after more than 15 years serving the community. “We want to carry on that tradition.”

But roots also are found on a more individual level, Cuni said. Employees from the store have gotten married, and people have met lifelong friends during routine morning coffee breaks. The store now has a group of regulars who meet every morning, but they never would have known each other if not for the restaurant.

Roots also have a literal meaning: a nod to the market’s commitment to fresh ingredients. This can be seen in the logo, which includes a carrot speared on a fork.

Although customers have known changes are coming for a while– the interior has been completely repainted – Cuni and White officially announced the name change Thursday by hanging signs around the restaurant.

“Honestly, some of them haven’t noticed,” Cuni said of the customers. But she added that the regulars who were included in the decision were excited about the transformation, including their picture featured on the recently launched website, www.rootcellarchapelhill.com.

Despite the makeover, the market’s menu will remain much the same, Cuni said. There will be some new surprises, such as breakfast until 2 p.m. every day, weekday blue-plate specials, dinner specials and draft beer.

Cuni and White plan a rebranding party in mid-September.

Cuni said the staff was excited to continue serving the community under a new identity.

“We’re just going to keep going,” she said, “try new things all the time and really become a new Chapel Hill landmark.”