“[Danzigers Coffee]” in Durwood Barbour Collection of North Carolina Postcards (P077), North Carolina Collection Photographic Archives, Wilson Library, UNC-Chapel Hill

Edward Danziger, or “Papa D.,” as he was affectionately known by his customers, made a dynasty out of Franklin Street from his arrival in Chapel Hill, creating a legacy of popular restaurants and bars lasting into the mid 2000’s. In 1939, Danziger, a man of Jewish faith, made the decision to flee Nazi Germany in order to avoid being sent to a Nazi concentration camp. In Vienna, he had owned a successful candy factory and had some store locations across Europe. The Quaker Community of Chapel Hill gave Danziger a $500 grant, allowing him to come to Chapel Hill and create new, diverse, and racially inclusive (as much as the Jim Crow era allowed) business, beginning with Danziger’s Candy Shop, which later became Danziger’s Old World Restaurant[1]. Danziger’s presence in the town alone brought an unfamiliar taste of World War II and the events occurring in Germany, but he made himself even more of a difference-maker as an immigrant in the Jim Crow south; he embraced controversy and welcomed any good student or adult of any color or background to work in his restaurants – of which employed 125 people at one point[2]. The year 1939 in the US occurred amid a changing political landscape pre-entry of WW2, and in the thick of segregation. A surprising thing happened, though, in a place where only 6 years before, UNC President Frank Graham fired a medical-school dean who refused to end a Jewish quota for the school[3]; Danziger, a marginalized individual – an immigrant, a Jew, a progressive-thinker, and new to town – championed the stomachs and the hearts of small, southern Chapel Hill. Danziger’s emergence into the Chapel Hill food scene aided in a process of change to the social landscape of the town, and this was all possible through the avenue of food – fostering a new sense of community-mindedness by feeding and caring for his new home.



[1] “Edward and Theodore Danziger.” Chapel Hill-Carrboro Business Hall of Fame. 2013. Accessed November 07, 2018. https://businesshalloffame.weebly.com/edward-and-theodore-danziger.html.

[2] “Edward and Theodore Danziger.”


[3] “North Carolina.” Suleyman. 2018. Accessed November 07, 2018. https://www.jewishvirtuallibrary.org/north-carolina. 


Elaine Nix