Business

Goodbye Old Chicago Pizza, hello Hops Burger Bar in Chapel Hill

Greensboro-based Hops Burger Bar is opening in the former Lime Fresh Mexican Grill space at the 140 West Franklin development on Chapel Hill’s Franklin Street. The former Lime space has sat empty since 2015, when the chain closed its location there.
Greensboro-based Hops Burger Bar is opening in the former Lime Fresh Mexican Grill space at the 140 West Franklin development on Chapel Hill’s Franklin Street. The former Lime space has sat empty since 2015, when the chain closed its location there. File photo

Popular Greensboro burger maker Hops Burger Bar is bringing its gourmet burgers to Chapel Hill’s Franklin Street.

Hops, which TripAdvisor named the best burger spot in the nation in 2015, will move into the former Lime Fresh Mexican Grill space at the 140 West Franklin mixed-use development, Hops co-owner Chris Martin said Friday.

“We are happy to be part of the redevelopment of Franklin Street,” Martin said. “The deal was very good because it is a second-generation restaurant ... and it is right here at the corner of West Franklin Street (and Church Street). We like Chapel Hill, and we thought it was the right place to come.”

Hops offers a wide variety of burgers, with angus and vegetarian patties, as well as turkey, chicken and tuna burgers. The restaurant is also known for its extensive menu of craft beers.

The former Lime space has sat empty since the Mexican chain restaurant closed there in 2015. The restaurant space will need $400,000 of renovations and will have room for 65 seats inside and 24 seats in the courtyard, Martin said.

The current plan is to open in January.

The addition of Hops at 140 West Franklin comes days after it was revealed that Old Chicago Pizza & Taproom is closing its location there this weekend.

Despite the closing, Meg McGurk, the executive director of the Chapel Hill Downtown Partnership, said earlier this week that 140 West Franklin is still an attractive location for restaurants.

“The spaces at 140 West Franklin St. are now uniquely positioned between Carolina Square and the coming AC Marriott Hotel,” she said. “It’s got great potential for the right retail and commercial tenants in the middle of the downtown business district. I don’t believe the location is the problem here – but rather it needs the right commercial options for the downtown community.”

Martin added that he wasn’t concerned about the seasonal nature of the Franklin Street restaurant market, which is heavily influenced by the UNC-Chapel Hill schedule.

“We aren’t concerned because we already get so many people from surrounding areas that drive to Greensboro,” he said. “People would drive 45 minutes to an hour to eat at the Greensboro locations. It’s not something we are worried about.”

The Chapel Hill restaurant will be Hops’ third location. The burger maker – which started in Greensboro in 2013 – opened its second Greensboro location earlier this year.

Zachery Eanes: 919-419-6684, @zeanes

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