Jan Halle, who helped co-open Johnny’s in Carrboro over four and a half years ago, reveled in her horoscope printed in the Independent earlier this week. “It said, ‘You’re going to jump out of a plane. You’re going to start a new life.’ It was fantastic.”
When I spoke with Halle earlier today, her new life was well under way. She was drinking iced coffee in an unusually empty and quiet Johnny’s, and answering the door for neighbors and customers who came knocking to find out more about the business’ close earlier this week.
According to Halle, the business had become too much for co-owner Brian Plaster, who has been busy with Frosty Trading Post, a similar venture in Pittsboro. Plaster will continue to oversee that operation, and Halle will put her energy into reopening Johnny’s. “It’s sad that it closed but it will rise again. I’m dedicated and determined that it will,” she says.
Halle, a doctor at UNC for 37 years, has had several inquiries about the store and hopes to find the right person to help carry it forward. “I’m a physician, so what do I know about business?” she asks with a laugh. “I have to figure out my role.”
Halle can’t confirm an exact date for the reopening, but promises a place with the “same flavor” that Plaster created. “I love this place and I love what he’s done with this place,” she says.
In the meantime, some aspects of Johnny’s will carry on as usual. On Saturday, Jody Argote of Parlez-Vous Crepes will be with her truck in its normal spot at the side of Johnny’s lot. “We’ll be there with our regular menu at the regular time and we’ll be selling cold beverages. The only thing missing will be going inside,” Argote says.
Or as Halle puts it, "It's like someone's gone fishing for a week or two."
Halle co-owned the former Johnny's building, but not the business. Thus, when Halle reopens the 901 W. Main Street space in Carrboro, it will operate under a different name.
Johnny's will continue at Plaster's newest venture, Frosty's Trading Post in Pittsboro (2143 Jones Ferry Rd., Pittsboro). Plaster's fiance, Courtney Buley, says that Plaster has not finalized a name for the business, but she anticipates something like Johnny's at Frosty's.
Spotting local food just got a lot easier. Earlier this week, Piedmont Grown launched a label that identifies farm fresh foods and artisan products that have been grown and produced within the 37 counties that constitute the North Carolina Piedmont.
Noah Ranells, a project manager for Piedmont Grown, as well as a farmer and the Ag Economic Development Coordinator for Orange County, says the new brown and green label can appear “anywhere where food is sold.” Artisan producers who have been certified by the non-profit can place the local logo on their foods, for instance, and complying farms can display the labels with their products.
So far, Ranells says over 100 restaurants, farms, and producers have been certified. It’s a number he hopes will continue to grow in an effort to connect consumers to a local food system.
For information about the certification process, interested farms and producers should visit Piedmont Grown's website. There, consumers can also access a directory and map of participants.
Jim Anile, chef and owner of Durham's Revolution, has a new venture planned for the former space of Cafe Zen (410 Blackwell St., Durham) at the American Tobacco Campus in Durham. L'Uva, an Italian restaurant and wine bar, is set to open in July, after Independence Day. "I don't want to be there before July 4," he explains, alluding to American Tobacco's holiday baseball crowds. "I don't want to get off on those sort of feet."
Anile says the restaurant will feature "simple, straightforward Italian food, all handmade." Weekly menu changes that incorporate fresh, local options will be announced regularly on L'Uva's website.
The restaurant will feature outdoor seating. Inside, expect an environment and menu slightly more casual than that of Revolution (but much more elegant than the stadium next door).
6-8 cups chopped fresh kale, hard stems removed
1 tsp apple cider vinegar
2 tbsp. olive oil
½ tsp. kosher salt or sea salt
Place rack on the lowest shelf of your oven. Preheat oven to 350 or 400 degrees F.
Spread kale on a sturdy baking sheet. Drizzle with olive oil and apple cider vinegar. Toss to coat. (I like to do this in a bowl).
Place on the lowest rack of the oven and bake for 10 minutes.
Remove from oven and stir sot hat kale can get crispy all over.
Bake another 8-12 minutes or until kale is crispy. It should be just lightly browned and crispy to touch. If kale still bends, rather than crackles, when you touch it, it isn’t done yet. Return to oven. Turn down the heat if it is getting too brown. Continue cookign until crispy. Remove from oven, sprinkle with salt and serve immediately.
Recipe courtesy of The Produce Box
5-6 sweet potatoes
1 tspn vanilla
1 tspn salt
1 cup sugar
½ cup brown sugar
1 stick butter (substitute dairy-free unsalted Fleischmann's margarine)
cinnamon to taste
Prepare syrup on stove top by combining all vanilla, salt, sugar, brown sugar, butter, and cinnamon in a small saucepan. Stir and melt on medium heat.
Prepare potatoes by dicing, clicing, cutring the potatoes how you like them.
Place potatoes in 9x13" pan.
Pour melted mixture over potatoes and stir to coat. Sprinkle with cinnamon. Cover pan with foil.
Bake at 350 for 1 hour.
Recipe courtesy of Tiffany McLeod Bargeman