Friday, October 19, 2007

Hard landing for Flying Burrito

Paul noticed it said "closed for renovations" yet there didn't look like any activity was going on. He was worried. He was right. Phil Campbell--the man who was the Flying Burrito--has sold the restaurant.

What will our lives be like without the Flying Burrito? The story says it will come back under new ownership. But it won't be the same. Phil had recently opened another restaurant up in Hillsborough, the Flying Fish. It was trademark Phil, excellent seafood prepared in his unique style. Last time we went there, it was the same restaurant . . . only new ownership and a different name! It was not the same at all.

I could tell the story of my 20 years in Chapel Hill through Burrito meals: hot dates over hot food; watching the first Gulf War unfold on TV in the bar; meals with a toddler knowing it was a place where screaming is OK; graduate school get-togethers; hot food eating contests with Paul's more macho crowd; the place where a mother could explain to her daughter how to root for "our Tar Heels"; the place where father hands down to son the lore of rock and roll; the reliable alternative for dinner when you're too busy to cook (thinking you'll get the cheap burrito but splurging for the seafood special). And beyond that, conversations with Phil, who cares about food and cares even more about people.

What a shock and a loss for Chapel Hill. Not even a chance for a last meal and a farewell toast! Whatever you're doing next, Phil, we wish you well.

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