Pining for restaurant cooking and want to help support local farms and laid-off service workers in the process?

Carrboro United has you covered. 

The initiative began immediately after Governor Cooper’s March 16 order closing bars and restaurants, as local business owners began talking among themselves: How could they help buffer the incoming economic disaster? 

By March 21, Carrboro United had built a website and launched its first “hub day.” 

“Carrboro United is our best effort to get this industry through really hard times,” Zoë Dehmer, director of operations and planning at Acme, says in a promotional video on the Carrboro United website. 

The organization is designed to scale up the takeout model that most restaurants have come to experiment with, in one way or another, over the past month. Centralizing the options gives participating vendors even footing and cuts down on competition. It also gives local service workers, many of whom have been laid off—Acme laid off 44 employees—work, at least for now, and helps customers cut down on grocery trips. 

The initiative was spearheaded by former Fleet Feet CEO Tom Raynor in partnership with Acme and other local business owners. Vendors include Glasshalfull, Venable, Carrboro Coffee Roasters, Haw River Mushrooms, Firsthand Foods, and Sweet Little Something. 

Operational costs cover keeping restaurant workers on a payroll, and the menu is priced accordingly. Still, you can purchase a restaurant meal that serves four for $36. 

Now with a month under its belt, the organization is settling into things and streamlining its process. Beginning this week, it’s posting its weekly menus on Sunday (previously, menus were posted the day before pick-ups). These menus feature groceries alongside family-style meals made by participating restaurants. 

Much of the produce for the meals is sourced from area farms, many of which have had their supply chains disrupted by restaurant closures. 

“It is something that needs to be done, and we can’t sit here and think anybody else is going to solve it for us,” Raynor says in the video. “We hope we have a solution a small way to help the town of Carrboro.” 

Cindy Sellars of the Splinter Group, who is representing Carrboro United, says that other communities and restaurants have reached out about replicating the model. The organization is creating a guide that will be listed on the website. 

So far, Carrboro United has sold 25,000 meals since the first hub day back in March, generating $50,000 in weekly revenue for local businesses and injecting as much as $200,000 back into the Carrboro economy since the organization launched, according to Sellars.

On a given hub day—they take place Tuesdays, Thursdays, and Saturdays at East Main Square in front of Cat’s Cradle—cars are waved through the pick-up line. A masked worker greets customers through the car window and then​, with a gloved hand, pass along a box of food—a rotisserie meal from Luna, a​ carton of eggs,​ breakfast items. ​

And then, the car window goes up, and it’s on to the next customer.

Contact deputy arts and culture editor Sarah Edwards at

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