As a fifth generation Tar Heel, it is safe to say I am from a Tar Heel family. I live for the Tar Heels. There was nothing I loved more than UNC sports growing up. One weekend every fall, we would visit Chapel Hill to attend a UNC football game; and during the winter, we would make countless trips to Chapel Hill to attend multiple basketball games. The Chapel Hill experience is not complete without visiting Franklin Street, which holds all the popular restaurants and shops for UNC students and visitors, so each visit we would have numerous places to enjoy a meal. Our favorite places were Spanky’s, Mellow Mushroom, and Pepper’s (which sadly closed down.) As a student, during my first two months being in Chapel Hill I have found Sup Dogs to be my new favorite restaurant on Franklin. I have gone to Sup Dogs to watch the first two UNC football games with my friends, and I have fallen in love with the place. The sports atmosphere, great food, and great waiting staff have me coming back over and over again. Due to my love for Sup Dogs, I wanted to learn more about its sports, food, and alcohol culture within the restaurant and its impact on the greater Chapel Hill community.
Sup Dogs has two locations, one in Greenville, NC and one in Chapel Hill, NC. The restaurant in Greenville is the original Sup Dogs, and the Chapel Hill location is an expansion of the original spot. The Greenville location opened in 2008 and the Chapel Hill location opened in June of 2014. Sup Dogs is a sports-oriented restaurant and bar. One of the many ways you can create a sense of community is through sports, as you create a sense of belonging with fans who cheer for your same team (Legg et all 2018.) This sense of belonging is what many feel while watching games at Sup Dogs. This sense of belonging is felt everywhere, especially in Wisconsin. A study examined tailgates for a Wisconsin football game, and in their observations, they saw a tight-knit community comprised of many people who had never met before but bonded over their common support of Wisconsin football (Aden et all 2009.) These are the same connections sports fans make at Sup Dogs through their love for their teams.
Observational and Analysis
On September 30, I went to eat with three of my friends at Sup Dogs, where we were greeted with a smile by our waitress as she directed us where to sit. Tonight, was game one of the NBA finals, so as I walked through Sup Dogs, I noticed about half of the crowd wearing either Los Angeles Lakers or Miami Heat apparel. On the other TVs, they were showing a monster truck rally and MLB baseball games. In the background, they were playing popular songs from the 2000s and early 2010s. Even though it was a Wednesday night, Sup Dogs was bustling. Every table was full, with the large majority being college-aged students. Out of all of the tables taken, only two tables comprised of non-college aged fans. Within the community at Sup Dogs this night, there was a diverse community comprised of different races, genders, sports team affiliations, and many others bonding over food, sports, and for some, alcohol.
Today, Saturday, October 3, is game day. It is the second game of the Tar Heels’ young football season. Three of my friends and I went to watch the first half of the game at Sup Dogs, where we arrived thirty minutes before kick-off. Once again, we were greeted with a friendly face and seated outdoors this time, but we could still see the game. This time around, the restaurant was filled with Carolina blue (which was a given since it was a football game day.) Even though we had a new waitress today, she still had similar mannerisms and a warm feeling as our waitress on Wednesday night. As the game went on, people began interacting between tables by talking about the game, their favorite plays, and favorite players. Soon, the whole restaurant, even with six feet between each table, was bonding over food, sports, and if they were of age, alcohol. This observation of the connection within the UNC sports and Sup Dogs community shows the impact Sup Dogs has on the greater Chapel Hill community.
Sup Dogs is not just a random restaurant on Franklin Street in Chapel Hill, North Carolina, it is a hub of sports and student life in Chapel Hill. It is the host to many game day watch parties, celebrations, and some casual dinners. Sup Dogs welcomes all customers. Now, you may get a few weird looks if you are wearing Duke gear, but you would still be welcome. Through my observations, Sup Dogs is the perfect place for any sports fan, no matter who you pull for or who you are.
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Mitchell, I., & Ruggerio, A. A. (2009). Communities of cornhuskers: The generation of
place through sports fans’ rituals. Qualitative Research Reports in Communication, 10(1),
Legg, E., Rose, J., Tanner, P. J., & Newland, A. (2018). Exploring sense of community in a
relocated sports fan group. Sport in Society, 21(9), 1319–1336.