Pop the Cap Black Friday Beer Fest

Plus: Rita's Ices opens in Morrisville; Sugarland coming to Chapel Hill

| November 21, 2007

Happy Thanksgiving, everyone! I'm thankful for family, friends and pie. And, needless to say, our area's fun, rich food scene.

Now, far be it from me to suggest that being with your loved ones would drive you to drink. No, no. The idea to stage a beer fest on the day after Thanksgiving comes from those cool cats over at Pop the Cap (popthecap.org) who are hosting a Black Friday Beer Fest. "We're looking to start a Black Friday tradition, a way to escape the crowds and the so-called bargains," says organizer Sean Wilson. "Battling for early-bird specials? Fighting for a parking spot? No, thanks. We'd rather drink beer."

Bravo, Sean! A new tradition, then. And this one, to be held from 3 to 7 p.m. at Rigsbee Hall (208 W. Rigsbee Ave., Durham), features several dark beers, food from Rue Cler and Pop's restaurants, a poker tournament, and Xbox 360 on the big screen. "Nothing says 'Work off a couple of pounds of that Thanksgiving meal' like a round or two of Guitar Hero," Sean says. Cost is $25 at the door, or $20 if you bring a new, unwrapped toy donation for Toys for Tots. All proceeds from the event benefit Toys for Tots.

Morrisville is now home to a franchise location of Rita's Ices, Cones, Shakes and Other Cool Stuff, "the nation's largest Italian ice chain" (4141 Davis Drive, 463-7881, www.ritasice.com).

Rita's in Morrisville is owned and operated by Kelly and Andrew Lum, a mother and son team who first tasted Rita's Ice in New York. "I thought it would be another cold slushie—but it was creamy, fresh tasting and absolutely delicious," Kelly says in a statement announcing the store opening.

Rita's Italian ices are made daily and available in more than 30 flavors. Old-fashioned frozen custard can be served in either a cone or cup. Rita's famous gelati provide frozen dessert fans with the best of both worlds with its layers of Italian ice and frozen custard. Rita's "misto" is a blend of Italian ice and creamy custard. Rita's also offers cream ices for those who prefer a treat that is smoother and richer than Italian ice, but not as heavy as traditional ice cream.

Oh, and Santa is going to be good to me this year. Yes, he is. For me and the denizens of Franklin Street in Chapel Hill, Santa is bringing Sugarland (104 E. Franklin St., 929-2100, www.sugarlandchapelhill.com), a locally owned bakery. Owner Katrina Ryan says she's going to have loads of good stuff: croissants, beignets, 24 flavors of gelato, a hot-cookie happy hour in the afternoons, lunch paninis, coffee from Durham's Counter Culture Coffee, and an Illy espresso machine (painted Carolina blue, of course). Sugarland will be open early to help out the college kids and stay open late serving wine and specialty pastry for theatergoers. Ryan said she's putting final touches on things, but look for an opening in mid-December. Can't wait.

Know about a special food happening in the Triangle? Send it to Now Serving at food@indyweek.com.

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