Merritt's Store & Grill - A Taste of Chapel Hill History

Historically, we have great taste
by Glenda Wilson

The imagination is an awesome thing and
reading the history of Merritt’s Store and Grill in Chapel Hill, North Carolina was like taking a stroll back in time. I admire people who keep history alive through storytelling and preserving landmark buildings. I give honor to people who remember and honor the hard work of their predecessors. For instance, Ruby and Eben Merritt, a hard working couple back in the depression started Merritt’s when there were hardly any roads and very little money. I can almost imagine all the different types of people, the words spoken, the dollars spent, the services bartered. Those thoughts take me to a time when life must have been simple, the people friendly and helpful –no pomp and circumstance –no pretensions –just honest -good folk.

MERRITT'S -"Home of the World Famous BLT"

Robert Britt loved Merritt’s since coming to the area in 1972 and took over the lease in 1991. When he acquired a store with a grill Robert decided that it needed a “destination” sandwich. One of his first thoughts was BLTs –not any old BLT though – the best darned BLT around. He knew it could be a winner. And indeed he was right –Merritt’s Store and Grill is touted as the “Home of the World Famous BLTs”.

Merritt’s also has hot dogs, barbecue, sausage, eggs and hamburgers to name a few As well as Coca-Cola in real glass bottles, Merritt's Grill House Blend and Cafe Femenino Peru coffee
by Joe Van Gogh's local Artisan roasted coffee (certified organic) - freshly ground and brewed -by the cup or pound.


Merritt’s has been a loved and respected landmark in the Chapel Hill area since its inception in 1929. It has had some renovations but continues the reputation of southern hospitality with the spirit of an old corner store.
A big sign over our aisle states what we believe, "Simply The Best Food In Town."


“During the 49 years Merritt ran the store, Merritt's became more than a gas station. Students and veterans came for the social atmosphere. Law students sat around Merritt's pot-bellied stove, on a bench Merritt nicknamed the "liar's bench” (Laura Oleniacz, MyNC).


There is something about the down-home southern atmosphere and menu that attracts customers from university staff, local business owners. Its rich history has made it a “must see” by tourists. Just ask anyone at the University of North Carolina, “Where should I eat before I leave?” Their answer will be Merritt’s Store and Grill of course. Another writer said the food is outstanding, but the best part could well be the chicken fried humor. People say it is where James TaylOwner, Bob Britt and employee, Phillip Francesor and his kid brother Livingston played gigs as teenagers in Chapel Hill.


One of the other things that seemed harmoniously consistent was that most writers described the food and atmosphere as an experience that took them back to the 'good ole days'.  One writer ordered a fried bologna and egg sandwich evoking memories of his youth when he was young, carefree and comforted –comparing it to mornings with his dad and brother.

Andrea Griffith says, "The BLT reminds me of summer and takes me back to childhood days spent at my grandparents' mountain home. To this day, my grandmother makes me a BLT for breakfast when I visit. That's probably why so many people love Merritt's BLT. The only thing better than good food is good food that conjures up great memories.

“Excuse Me Officers, I Only Wanted a BLT  Laura Oleniacz By Laura Oleniacz, MyNC, CHAPEL HILL, N.C. -

Deborah Day whizzed by a policeman at a traffic stop, got a ticket and had to go to court, all because she was she engrossed in a "fabulous" BLT, layered with nine slices bacon from Merritt's Store & Grill. "I was thinking only about my sandwich," she said…. This was my favorite article.

(Let to Right -Christen Matthews, Bob Britt and Deborah Day)

LIKE us on Facebook


Merritt's Store & Grill
1009 S Columbia St., Chapel Hill, NC 27514
(919) 942-4897