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Top of The Hill (Storefront Story)

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It’s early February and UNC has just beaten Duke. Following a famous tradition, students run toward Franklin St while virtually every house in Chapel Hill resonates cheers of victory. In priceless moments like these, many fans rush to none other than the iconic Top of the Hill. With a balcony view unlike any other, this famous restaurant and brewery remains one of Chapel Hill’s most famous restaurants.

Top of the Hill – or “TOPO” as its commonly known – opened its doors more than 15 years ago when founder Scott Maitland graduated from UNC’s law school. After receiving his degree, Maitland wanted to give back to his Carolina community, but he couldn’t decide how. It was only after learning that a T.G.I. Friday’s was going to be built in the heart of Franklin St that Maitland found his calling.

In an effort to expand local business, Maitland managed to purchase the balcony property before the chain restaurant could. He decided to create a restaurant and brewery, one that could satisfy a hungry UNC student but also provide a unique style of alcohol.

After relentless work and design, Maitland finished his restaurant in 1996 and named it Top of the Hill Restaurant and Brewery.

Today, TOPO has become a household icon to the Chapel Hill area. Its microbrewery is one of the first of its kind and still operates today, making the famous libations for the more than 500 customers each day. However, alcohol aside, TOPO’s unique environment and friendly staff alone make it one of a kind.

“What I love about TOPO is the diversity of staff and management here,” said manager Jeff Wardwell. “Every day, we have a different set of staff ranging in age, race, and academic major.”

TOPO prides itself in its savory menu and famous drinks, including spirits and blueberry wheat beer. Many famous alumni, including Michael Jordan and John Edwards go to TOPO when they visit the Chapel Hill area.

“You can’t get our beer anywhere else. You can’t get our spirits anywhere else,” Wardell said. “We’ve built up this brand and reputation. That’s what makes us so special.”

Whether it’s the atmosphere, food, drinks, or just friendly staff, TOPO does provide something special. But to those living in the Chapel Hill and UNC community, TOPO represents a lifestyle – of pride and celebration, or sometimes sadness and defeat – that binds us together as a community cheering on for that sweet Carolina blue.

Want to get Top of the Hill’s food brought to you? Get Top of the Hill delivered anywhere in Chapel Hill using Nyfty. **Note – Food only. Alcohol delivery unavailable.

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Kyle Eng
Kyle Eng is a senior at UNC-Chapel Hill who loves to learn more about the community. As an avid writer and explorer of Chapel Hill for over 8 years, he has developed a great sense of familiarity and uniqueness to local business.


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