>>>A CHAPEL HILL GAS STATION
BUILT IN 1929 HAS NEW LIFE THESE DAYS AS AN EXCEPTIONALLY
WELL-KNOWN LUNCH SPOT. BOB GARNER RECENTLY VISITED
MERRITT’S, AND HE SHARES SOME OF THE STORY OF ITS TRANSITION IN
TONIGHT’S “HOUSE SPECIAL.”>>FOR OVER 60 YEARS, MERRITT’S
WAS A LOCAL FILLING STATION WITH A PHILOSOPHER’S BENCH, A
GATHERING SPOT BRINGING TOGETHER TOWN AND UNIVERSITY WITH COUNTRY
FOLKS. BOBBY BRITT ON THE LEFT AND
WIFE, ROBIN, TOOK OVER IN THE EARLY ’90s, GRADUALLY TURNING
THE PLACE INTO A BREAKFAST AND LUNCH DESTINATION.>>FOOD-WISE, IT’S, UM — IT IS
ABOUT SIMPLICITY AND, UH, GOING BACK TO YOUR ROOTS AND SORT OF
CONJURING UP FLAVORS OF YOUR CHILDHOOD AND ALSO KEEPING
THINGS LOCAL. UH, I THINK, UM, MY PARENTS HAVE
BEEN DOING THAT FOR THE PAST 23 YEARS WITHOUT KNOWING THAT
THAT’S THE THING TO DO, BUT IT JUST SORT OF MADE SENSE TO THEM,
AND SO THAT’S, UH — THAT’S WHAT THEY STARTED WITH, SO WE REALLY
GO AFTER, YOU KNOW, EVERY WEEK, FINDING THE BEST TOMATOES FOR
THE WEEK, UM, LOCALLY SOURCED BREAD, UM, WORKING ON LOCALLY
SOURCED MEATS AND, UH, JUST KEEPING IT SIMPLE AND KEEPING
THE QUALITY CONSISTENT.>>THIS IS THE TURKEY, BACON,
GUACAMOLE SANDWICH ON A NICE MARBLED RYE. OOH, LOOK AT THAT. THAT IS UTTERLY FANTASTIC! AND YOU KNOW WHAT? THERE’S SOMETHING THAT MAKES IT
EVEN BETTER. THIS IS A LITTLE-KNOWN ITEM SORT
OF INVENTED BY THE CAROLINA LACROSSE TEAM THAT REALLY ISN’T
ON THE MENU. IT’S THE SPICY GREEN SAUCE. IT’S A GREEN TOMATILLO SAUCE. PERFECT FOR THIS KIND OF
SANDWICH. MM-HMM. I’M NOT GOING TO LIE TO YOU. THAT HAS A LITTLE KICK TO IT. IT ISN’T FOR THE FAINT OF HEART,
BUT IT ISN’T TOO FAR OVER THE TOP. THE GREEN TOMATILLO SPICY SAUCE. NOW, YOU DEFINITELY HAVE A THEME
GOING ON HERE, AND THAT’S LOTS OF TOMATOES, LOTS OF BACON. THIS IS THE PIMENTO CHEESE
VERSION OF THE BLT. NOW, THIS IS A NICE THREE-SEED
BREAD WHICH REALLY SHOWS OFF THAT BEAUTIFUL PIMENTO CHEESE TO
WONDERFUL ADVANTAGE. AND THAT PIMENTO CHEESE ACTUALLY
HAS A LITTLE BIT OF BITE TO IT, BUT NOT TOO MUCH. THAT IS WONDERFUL PIMENTO
CHEESE. CHICKEN SALAD MADE FRESH EVERY
SINGLE DAY. THIS IS SERVED ON YOUR CHOICE OF
BREAD AND SANDWICH FORM, OR YOU CAN GET IT AS A SIDE. MMM. THAT ISN’T FLAVORED LIKE MOST
CHICKEN SALAD YOU’LL TASTE. MMM. NOT QUITE SURE WHAT THEY DID
WITH THAT, BUT IT REALLY BRINGS OUT THE RICH FLAVOR OF THE
CHICKEN. IT ISN’T ALL MAYONNAISEY. OH, MY, THAT’S GOOD! THIS, FRIENDS, IS THE GRANDDADDY
OF THE MOST POPULAR OF ALL THE MERRITT’S SANDWICHES. THAT IS THE TRIPLE BLT. IF YOU GET A MERRITT’S T-SHIRT,
THEY HAVE ONE THAT SAYS SOURDOUGH, BACON, BACON, BACON,
LETTUCE, TOMATO, SOURDOUGH. ALL THE LAYERS OF THE SANDWICH
RIGHT THERE ON THE T-SHIRT. I HAVE IT RIGHT HERE IN MY
HANDS. OH, I’M A HAPPY, HAPPY A FELLA. YOU KNOW, THEY PROBABLY DIDN’T
PLAN IT THAT WAY, BUT THAT IS DEFINITELY THE SANDWICH THAT
MADE MERRITT’S FAMOUS. YOU CAN’T BEAT IT. IT’S SIMPLE. IT’S ABSOLUTELY INCREDIBLE! MMM, MMM. THERE ARE INTERESTING DRINK
CHOICES, INCLUDING COFFEE, AND THE BANANA PUDDING IS THE ICONIC
DESSERT OF CHOICE. ROBIN BRITT DIED RECENTLY AFTER
A BATTLE WITH CANCER, BUT FOR 10 YEARS BEFORE HER DEATH, SHE
BECAME WIDELY KNOWN FOR BUILDING RELATIONSHIPS AND A WELCOMING
SPIRIT AT MERRITT’S.>>THIS WAS HER MISSION FIELD,
TO — TO JUST PULL OUT LOVE ON THE PEOPLE THAT WALKED THROUGH
THE THRESHOLD AND JUST LOVE THEM AS MUCH AS POSSIBLE THROUGH, YOU
KNOW, SIMPLE FOOD, SIMPLE CONVERSATION, AND — AND A PAT
ON THE BACK. AND SO FOR HER, IT’S — IT
REALLY IS A GATHERING PLACE AND A MEETING PLACE AND USING THAT
AS A TOOL JUST TO — FOR HER IT WAS ABOUT SHARING GOD’S LOVE
WITH — WITH ANYONE AND EVERYONE THAT SHE COULD INTERACT WITH.>>MY BET IS THAT ATMOSPHERE AT
MERRITT’S WON’T CHANGE. FOR “NORTH CAROLINA WEEKEND,”
I’M BOB GARNER.