If it's been a while since you've cracked through a rack of billiard balls at Zog's Pool Hall (zogsbar.wordpress.com) in Chapel Hill, you may want to pop in and take a look. New owner and New Orleans native Mandey Brown has revamped its sports bar vibe into a glowing, voodoo-inspired decor with a craft box for folks to flex their creative muscles as they sip through a seasonal cocktail menu.
"When I bought the place [two years ago], it didn't even have glassware," she says. "We've had a really good time with it."
Not to worry: It's still a pool hall. But with the new DIY vibe came a renewed sense of camaraderie among customers. Through that community, the idea of potluck dinners was born. Brown schedules thematic potlucks each month (the days vary) and advertises them through Meetup.com and Zog's Facebook page. The bar hosts a Back to School potluck on Friday, Aug. 17, at 7 p.m.
"We wanted to be able to have food [here], but we don't have a kitchen or the permits. A potluck is allowed," Brown says. "It's fun—you don't know what's coming."
"We had a Last Meal potluck—if you were on death row, what would you choose? We got a lot of donuts, pie. For our Olympic Ceremony theme, we had crazy Indian food and this vegetarian Hungarian stew that I've never heard of. People in the area who work in RTP or are here for grad school are from everywhere in the world. It's amazing what a cross-section of humanity this Meetup is."
For this month's theme, she suggests attendees take "your most memorable school lunch meal and make it something worth eating! Honestly, buying non-name-brand chicken nuggets would be better than what my grammar school served. They always smelled horrible."
For more information, email Brown at email@example.com.
For kids dreading packing a backpack before starting the new school year, A Southern Season (southernseason.com) offers their final kid-focused cooking class today (Aug. 8) and tomorrow (Aug. 9) at 11 a.m. Kids in the Kitchen: Around the World with the Olympics features a lesson in the healthy eating habits of Olympians before a cooking course fit for an energetic kid. Cooking school manager Marilyn Markel says kids will learn how to make protein-packed, carbohydrate-balanced international meals such as chicken empanadas and sweet sticky rice with mangoes.
"Kids are totally into it," she says. "Sometimes their parents are surprised with what they'll eat here. When kids are involved in the preparation, they are more open to trying new things."
Classes are $35 and age-specific. To sign up, visit the store's website.
Know of a restaurant happening or food event? Email firstname.lastname@example.org.