Meet the new boss. Pictured L to R: pint of beer, Mark Connor
  • Ian Dunn
  • Meet the new boss. Pictured L to R: pint of beer, Mark Connor

Longstanding Chapel Hill bar and venue The Cave, which has been up for sale since February 27, is now off the market. Slim’s talent buyer Mark Connor and owner Van Alston, as well as third partner Richard Darling, will be its new owners.

“I’ve admired The Cave for years, and when I became aware that it was for sale almost a year ago, I hoped to be involved with the buyers,” says Connor, who not only books music at Slim’s, but also plays bass in multiple Raleigh bands. And Alston is an experienced entrepreneur. “With a track record of great success, Van will be able to lend his invaluable wisdom of 20-plus years of bar/ restaurant ownership and help steer the ship straight at times when guidance is necessary.”

Connor says he respects The Cave’s long tradition on Franklin Street but would also like to work toward “cross-pollination” between Raleigh and Chapel Hill by coordinating shows between The Cave and Slim’s. This would help touring bands build larger fan bases, he says, but also opens up opportunities for other events that would otherwise be one-offs: micro-fests, say.

“We’re not planning on making changes at either place right away,” says Connor. “We didn’t buy 44 years of history just to come in with a bulldozer and a ‘let me tell you how we do it’ attitude.” He says he and his partners may make changes to improve either Slim’s or The Cave, but not right away. Rather, Connor describes a “sister club” approach that respects the strengths of both rooms while fostering a musical conduit between Raleigh and Franklin St.

“I couldn’t be more excited,” explains Connor, “and I invite every resident of Chapel Hill 21 years of age or older to come celebrate their town’s oldest and one of its greatest bars.”