Ever since it closed down, last June, Crook’s Corner—the landmark Chapel Hill restaurant on the corner of Franklin Street and Merritt Mill Road—has been the source of persistent reopening rumors. Those whispers were further stoked earlier this month when a semi-cryptic sign appeared on its door. It read: “HONEYSUCKLE Is Almost In Bloom. You Know What That Means.”
Cryptic in scope if not subject, at least: devout fans of the restaurant know that Bill Smith’s honeysuckle sorbets—alongside signature dishes like the Atlantic Beach pie and fried oysters—signal the essence of Crook’s.
“In this area, especially, people who grew up as children here and had honeysuckle and would put that one moisture drop on their tongue and have that little bit of sweet flavor—it’s incredibly nostalgic,” Shannon Healy, an owner, tells the INDY. “You get all of that flavor magnified because the whole sorbet is that flavor. It’s really fun to watch people experience it and have that nostalgia for it. And because Bill did it, it is now associated with the restaurant.”
Does that mean there’s a reopening on the calendar?
“The party line is that we are still actively working toward getting it open,” Healy explains. “There are still legal, financial, and construction-related issues to resolve. But we have been working steadfastly at it—and will continue until we get it open.”
Meanwhile, Healy says, the restaurant is offering a day of sorbets—made by Bill Smith, who also harvested the honeysuckle around Chapel Hill—as a temporary tribute: this Friday, June 3, Crook’s will sell honeysuckle sorbets from the restaurant’s kitchen door from noon to 4 p.m. Guests are limited to two servings each, and no phone orders are permitted. In the unlikely event that the sorbet batch lasts, the sale will continue the following day, June 4, in the same time window.
“We don’t have so much of it—it’s been a very short [honeysuckle] season; this is not a limitless supply kind of thing,” says Healy. “It’s really just something to let people know that we’re still here, still trying, still working toward reopening. People have been incredibly supportive. We just wanted to say thank you.”
To read more on Bill Smith’s famous sorbet, this piece from May 2016 follows Smith on a honeysuckle harvest.
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