Two common words that perhaps best encompass the beauty that is Chapel Hill, NC.
But here, it isn’t just the people and culture that represent these values. Chapel Hill’s stores and restaurants also serve customers with the same fundamental belief that simplicity and tradition are at its core.
For over 40 years, Sunrise Biscuit Kitchen owner David Allen has shared his own taste of Chapel Hill in the simplest way he knows – biscuits.
“I had experience in the biscuit business because of being a southern boy living just outside of Newbern, NC,” Allen said. “My family was all farmers, and biscuits was something that kept everybody filled up. My mother made biscuits, and I remember being next to her as a little kid and having flour all over me.”
After graduating from Carolina, Allen took his childhood talent and teamed up with his fraternity brother in 1977 to create a small biscuit store in Henderson, NC known today as Sunrise Biscuit Kitchen.
“First day we opened up, I think I got there at 4AM and left at 11PM and got $39 in business,” Allen said.
Unfortunately, business didn’t pick up for awhile. For the first three months, Allen struggled to maintain profitable margins. Oddly enough, it took a major problem for the store to gain traction.
“We’ve been open for three months and were still struggling with sales, because people didn’t know what a biscuit restaurant was.”
“I was working the cash register one day, and the building caught on fire. Fortunately, the fire station was right next door and firefighters put the fire out quickly, and we had minimal damage. More importantly, we got front page coverage in the newspaper, and the radio station came down to interview us and sales tripled because people finally knew who we were.”
From there the business took off. Opening as many as 10 locations at one point, Sunrise made a name for itself as being one of the best biscuit restaurants in North Carolina. Making appearances in films such as “Bad Grandpa” and magazines like “Maxim”, “The NY Times” and “Condé Nast”, Sunrise continues to impress eaters of all areas.
Despite a growing demand and increased competition with local chains, Sunrise stays true to its simple menu and traditional recipe.
“As a consultant, I’ve been exposed to other operations and seen how complicated they got. So early on, our principle was to keep it simple,” Allen said. “I want to make a few great things [rather] than 50 mediocre things.”
It’s no surprise that Sunrise grew to be a hometown favorite for breakfast and hangover food alike. After all, a drive-thru-only restaurant doesn’t make locals change out of their pajamas to pick up some food.
Most importantly, inside a Sunrise golden biscuit or those precious crumbs you pick at on your lap, there’s a taste that resonates well beyond the delicious food. It’s a taste that always brings you back to Chapel Hill – not because you’re finally familiar with the area, but because you found a taste that reminds you of home.
Want to give Sunrise a try after learning about their history? Get Sunrise Biscuit Kitchen delivered anywhere in Chapel Hill using Nyfty.