Thanks to the arrival of Imbibe, Chapel Hill has a new restaurant, bar and bottle shop. The joint project of Mandey Brown and Jedd Tyler has taken over the old Rec Room space below local fave Zog’s, which Brown also owns.
“I’ve been saying for a while that if the space ever opened up, I wanted to take it over,” Brown says.
Imbibe officially opened last Friday, January 29, offering an array of taps of beer, cider, wine, and nitro-tapped cold coffee. A bottle shop component sells beer and wine, too. If you’re the impatient type, you can take whatever you buy at the bottle shop into the restaurant area and drink it immediately. There is a small corkage fee to do so, Brown says. There’s no liquor, so you’ll still need to head upstairs to Zog’s for that or to shoot pool.
“We’re essentially turning Zog’s into a restaurant,” Brown says with a laugh. Patrons upstairs at Zog’s can order from the Imbibe menu and have the food brought upstairs. That approach lets the two spots complement each other rather than compete. “Anything we’re doing upstairs, we’re not doing downstairs.”
The Imbibe menu features “all made-from-scratch bar food, but bar food that’s a little more elevated,” according to Brown. One of the pizzas—the Soy Division, starring tofu and spicy peanut sauce—is an early favorite of hers, but a lot of people seem to favor the gumbo.
Imbibe is offering more than just food and drink. Mondays at Imbibe feature live jazz by Danny Grewen and Robert Griffin. Weekly beer tastings are in the works, too. The entire staff is training to become level-one Cicerones, too, and you can get in on the learning. All you have to do to up your beer game is sign up, pay a fee and attend sessions on topics such as beer styles.
We’ll have a full review of Imbibe in the coming weeks. In the meantime: Imbibe, 108 Henderson St., Chapel Hill, 919-636-6469. Hours: 11 a.m.–11 p.m., Monday–Saturday.