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Triangle Offers Quick Dinner Solutions for Healthy Family Meals


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"Mooom, I'm huuuungry," my 3-year-old wails at me at 6 p.m.  With a toddler and an infant, work, and a house to take care of, getting a healthy, hearty dinner on the table is usually not a high priority.  Until, of course, that little hunger rumble starts somewhere in the area below my tummy, or more specifically in the area rolling around on my kitchen floor.  As I rummage through the freezer looking for another Stouffer's meal I think, "There has to be a better way."  Turns out, there is.

Throughout the Triangle, local companies and chefs are willing to help families like yours and mine create healthy, well-rounded meals to use on the busiest of days.  Here's a detailed look some of the services offered by a few companies. See the listing below to contact them and to find more resources. And see Fast Meals for Busy Parents for more tips.

Personal Chef Services

You may think that bringing a personal chef to your home is too posh.  But believe it or not, having a personal chef doesn't mean you're an aspiring Hollywood A-lister. On the contrary, you're simply a smart parent taking advantage of the talents of a group of Triangle professionals who want to help you succeed in creating delicious, healthy meals as efficiently as possible.  Depending on your budget and what you need, these chefs will tailor a program just for you.  Want them to put together a list and grocery shop for you?  They'll do that.  Want them to prepare a week's worth of meals for your fridge?  Sure.  Want them to teach you how to do it yourself with hands-on lessons?  They'd love to.  Cary Dinner Fairy is operated by "fairy" chef Jenny who specializes in helping families with dietary restrictions.  Chef Joe at NC Chef for Me says his service provides you with more time to spend with your kids.  With both of these personal chefs, price is varies widely depending on what you request, what you need, meals prepared, and what services they provide.  Your best bet is to contact them directly.

An option that you may find cheaper ($100 for five made-from-scratch meals) but less customizable is the Family Dinner plan from Foster's Market. Both Foster's locations, in Durham and Chapel Hill, offer an order-ahead family meal plan for the week.  Get your request in on a Friday before 2 p.m., and the next Monday you can pick up a week's worth of delicious gourmet meals that just need to be heated and mixed according to the directions provided.

Meal Preparation

If you are more of a DIYer, you may like a meal prep option that lets you prepare healthy, delicious freezer meals for your family.  Dinner Savvy in Apex is a place where busy folks like us can take one night out to place precut ingredients into freezer-friendly storage according to instructions laid out on easy-to-follow recipe cards.   Entrees feed between four to six people and cost from $22 to $34 each, with a minimum of three meals required.  At the end of the night you leave with weeks' worth of freshly made frozen meals, and you didn't have to grocery shop, recipe hunt, or even chop!

Takeout Delights

If you are not the type of person who plans in advance or if your family feels the fierce calling of a particular craving some nights, you no longer need to pack up the kids in the car and fight boredom and "is my food ready yet" whining at a restaurant.  A number of Triangle companies can help you get what you want.  Thanks to Tar Heel Takeout, Durham Takeout and Raleigh Takeout, food from hot spots such as Shiki Sushi, Satisfaction, Mediterranean Deli,  Shaba Shabu, The Q Shack and more can show up at your door. Just call the appropriate takeout service for your area, pick your restaurant, and order.  With a minimum $10 food order and a $4.99 delivery fee, the staff will do all the restaurant waiting and get your food for you.   919Dine offers the same service for families in Garner, North Hills, Triangle Town, Downtown Raleigh, Brier Creek, Cary, Apex, Morrisville, and Durham.  The delivery fee for 919Dine varies anywhere between $3.99 and $6.99, dependent upon how many miles you live from the restaurant of choice.  However, not only will 919Dine bring you an order from Champas or The Big Easy but you can also get dessert from Cold Stone.  Get 919Dine's app on your phone to make it even easier.

Grab and Go

Of course, gourmet and specialty food stores throughout the Triangle offer cases of pre-made, delicious, and nutritious food for a quick stop to fit any budget.  Fresh Market serves up some remarkable and creative pasta, meats, casseroles, vegetables, and more goodies that you can buy in bulk.  Chapel Hill gourmet behemoth A Southern Season has a similar case filled with delectable eats. Whole Foods Market has a fabulous family dinner option in its refrigerated prepared foods section. Use it to pick a main entrée and side salad to feed a family of four for as little as $14.99. Just reheat and toss for a healthy, well-rounded meal. If you place the food in your own serving ware, no one has to know you didn't cook it yourself!

Whichever service works for you, remember that fresh, healthy meals are only a phone call or click away.  Treat your family, make things easier for yourself, and, above all, remember that you are worth more than frozen lasagna every night.

Personal Chef Services
Cary Dinner Fairy carydinnerfairy.com
Chef Joe at NC Chef for Me chefforme.com

Order-Ahead Family Meal Plan for a Week
Foster's Market fostersmarket.com

Meal Preparation
Dinner Savvy in Apex dinnersavvy.com

Take-Out Delights
Tar Heel Takeout tarheeltakeout.com
Durham Takeout durhamtakeout.com
Raleigh Takeout raleightakeout.com
919Dine 919dine.com)

Grab and Go
The Fresh Market thefreshmarket.com/
A Southern Season southernseason.com
Whole Foods Market wholefoodsmarket.com

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Calendar

August 2016

Enjoy water slides, bounce houses, water gun fights and food. All ages. Service will begin at 9:30 a.m. with festivities immediately following.

Cost: Free

Where:
Driven Church
5511 Avent Ferry Rd.
Raleigh, NC  27606
View map »


Sponsor: Driven Church
Telephone: 919-307-9801
Contact Name: Christopher Murray

More information

Take part in a class that teaches individualized ways to foster motor development for your child. Learn about tummy time alternatives, best positions for your baby, how to help your child learn to...

Cost: $18

Where:
Open Arts
1222 Copeland Oaks Dr.
Morrisville, NC  27560
View map »


Sponsor: Babies On The MOVE
Contact Name: Rebecca Quinones
Website »

More information

Kids ages 5-11 and their adult companions enjoy a 30-minute tour. Meet at the West Building Information Desk.

Cost: Free

Where:
N.C. Museum of Art
2110 Blue Ridge Rd.
Raleigh, NC  27607
View map »


Telephone: 919-839-6262
Website »

More information

Take part in a class that teaches individualized ways to foster motor development for your child. Learn about carry positions, best positions for your baby, how to help your child learn to crawl,...

Cost: $18

Where:
Open Arts
122 Copeland Oaks Dr.
Morrisville, NC  27560
View map »


Sponsor: Babies On The MOVE
Contact Name: Rebecca Quiñones
Website »

More information

Enjoy the captivating story of a band of underdogs who become unlikely heroes when they stand up to the most powerful men in New York. This rousing tale is about fighting for what’s...

Cost: $35-$80

Where:
Durham Performing Arts Center
123 Vivian St.
Durham, NC  27701
View map »


Website »

More information

Take a look at the monsters and beasts that inhabit our dreams and folktales by peering through different lenses to explore the beauty, monstrousness and magic of these creatures as Paperhand...

Cost: Suggested donations are $8 for kids, $15 for adults

Where:
Forest Theatre
123 S. Boundary St.
Chapel Hill, NC  27514
View map »


Telephone: 919-962-0522
Website »

More information

Enjoy the captivating story of a band of underdogs who become unlikely heroes when they stand up to the most powerful men in New York. This rousing tale is about fighting for what’s...

Cost: $35-$80

Where:
Durham Performing Arts Center
123 Vivian St.
Durham, NC  27701
View map »


Website »

More information

Take a look at the monsters and beasts that inhabit our dreams and folktales by peering through different lenses to explore the beauty, monstrousness and magic of these creatures as Paperhand...

Cost: Suggested donations are $8 for kids, $15 for adults

Where:
Forest Theatre
123 S. Boundary St.
Chapel Hill, NC  27514
View map »


Telephone: 919-962-0522
Website »

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Explore the wonders of the great outdoors and create fun, nature-inspired crafts. Take a lunch, snack and water bottle. Ages 6-11. Meet at the Cypress Shelter. Registration required.

Cost: $20/person

Where:
Harris Lake County Park
2112 County Park Dr.
New Hill, NC
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Telephone: 919-387-4342
Website »

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Meet other moms at the Durham Mothers Club open playdate. New and prospective members learn more about the DMC and make new friends. Meeting take place in the nursery; young kids play with...

Cost: Free

Where:
Pilgrim United Church of Christ - Nursery
3011 Academy Road
Durham, NC  27707
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Sponsor: Durham Mothers Club
Contact Name: Jennifer Johnson
Website »

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Take the fast track to nature in this hands-on study of ecology. Ages 8-12. Registration required.

Cost: $12/resident, $16/nonresident

Where:
Stevens Nature Center/Hemlock Bluffs
2616 Kildaire Farm Rd.
Cary, NC
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Telephone: 919-387-5980
Website »

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Learn how people made flour and cornmeal long ago and try out a variety of ancient-style hand mills. Survey milling history and learn about equipment that has been used around the world to grind...

Cost: $4/child

Where:
Historic Yates Mill County Park
4620 Lake Wheeler Rd.
Raleigh, AL
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Telephone: 919-856-6675
Website »

More information

Local community heroes from the Chapel Hill Police Department show that they are also “Reading Role Models” by reading a story or two with kids and answering questions about the work...

Cost: Free

Where:
Chapel Hill Public Library, Programming Room
100 Library Dr.
Chapel Hill, NC  27514
View map »


Sponsor: Chapel Hill Public Library
Telephone: 919-969-2036
Contact Name: Daniel Siler
Website »

More information

Hunt for clues and investigate the mystery of milling with real historical artifacts inside Wake County's only remaining water-powered gristmill. Ages 7–14. Registration required.

Cost: $4/child

Where:
Historic Yates Mill County Park
4620 Lake Wheeler Rd.
Raleigh, NC
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Telephone: 919-856-6675
Website »

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Take part in the KaBOOM! Playground Build at Crest Street Park in Durham. Durham Parks and Recreation, Keep Durham Beautiful, the Duke Durham Neighborhood Partnership, the Crest Street Community...

Cost: Free

Where:
Crest Street Park
2503 Crest Street
Durham, NC  27705
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Sponsor: Keep Durham Beautiful
Telephone: 919-560-4197 x21269
Contact Name: Monica Ospina
Website »

More information

Take time out to spend with your little one as you crawl, explore and bounce in a safe environment exclusively for children ages 12 mos-3 yrs. Parents play free; admission is $5 per child....

Cost: $5/child

Where:
BounceU of Apex
3419 Apex Peakway
Apex, NC  27502
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Website »

More information

Tinkergarten is an early childhood education experience in the best classroom you could ask for: Nature! Tinkergarten offers play-based learning for children ages 18 mos-5 yrs, and is all...

Cost: Free

Where:
Apex Community Park
2200 Laura Duncan Road
Apex, NC  27523
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Sponsor: Tinkergarten
Contact Name: Kelci Mukherjee
Website »

More information

Local community heroes from the Chapel Hill Police Department show that they are also “Reading Role Models” by reading a story or two with kids and answering questions about the work...

Cost: Free

Where:
Chapel Hill Public Library, Programming Room
100 Library Dr.
Chapel Hill, NC  27514
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Sponsor: Chapel Hill Public Library
Telephone: 919-969-2036
Contact Name: Daniel Siler
Website »

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Meet a staff member at the information desk to visit one of the museum galleries. Have a look around and listen to a history-related story. Ages 3 and older with adult.

Cost: Free

Where:
N.C. Museum of History
5 E. Edenton St.
Raleigh, NC  27601
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Website »

More information

Explore animals in art. Learn about animals in the museum and enjoy activities. Ages 2-5 with caregiver. First come, first served. Sessions take place at 10:15 a.m., 11:15 a.m. and 1:15 p.m.

Cost: $3/member, $6/nonmember

Where:
N.C. Museum of Art
2110 Blue Ridge Rd.
Raleigh, NC  27607
View map »


Telephone: 919-839-6262
Website »

More information

Local community heroes from the Chapel Hill Police Department show that they are also “Reading Role Models” by reading a story or two with kids and answering questions about the work...

Cost: Free

Where:
Chapel Hill Public Library, Programming Room
100 Library Dr.
Chapel Hill, NC  27514
View map »


Sponsor: Chapel Hill Public Library
Telephone: 919-969-2036
Contact Name: Daniel Siler
Website »

More information

Johanna leads preschoolers on a storytime adventure.

Cost: Free

Where:
Flyleaf Books
752 Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd.
Chapel Hill, NC  27514
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Sponsor: Flyleaf Books
Telephone: 919-942-7373
Website »

More information

Assist park staff with invasive species removal in the educational gardens. Learn about harmful invasive species and tackle the task of removing these plants. Take a water bottle and wear clothes...

Cost: Free

Where:
Harris Lake County Park
2112 County Park Dr.
New Hill, NC
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Telephone: 919-387-4342
Website »

More information

Enjoy "Back to the Future" outdoors. Food trucks available. Take lawn chairs and blankets. Movies shown on the back lawn of the Garner Performing Arts Center; gates open at 7 p.m....

Cost: Free

Where:
Garner Performing Arts Center - Back Lawn
742 W. Garner Rd
Garner, NC  27529
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Sponsor: Garner Revitalization Association
Telephone: 919-773-4402
Contact Name: Mari Howe
Website »

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Enjoy an energetic, musical storytime with Amy Godfrey, who was a Durham County librarian for six years. Babka and challah will be served as...

Cost: Free

Where:
Levin JCC
1937 West Cornwallis Rd.
Durham, NC  27705
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Website »

More information

Go nutty for nature as children satisfy some of their curiosity about the world around them and parents share in the joy of discovery. Ages 3-5 with parent. Registration required.

Cost: $10/resident, $13/nonresident

Where:
Stevens Nature Center/Hemlock Bluffs
2616 Kildaire Farm Rd.
Cary, NC
View map »


Telephone: 919-387-5980
Website »

More information

Enjoy a kid-paced hour featuring music, play and dancing with toddler stars singing on the mic at Cotton's gently amplified and participatory music show. Children delight in active,...

Cost: Free with admission

Where:
"Pump it Up" Briercreek
10700 World Trade Blvd, #112
Raleigh, NC  27617
View map »


Sponsor: Pump it Up
Telephone: 919-828-3344
Contact Name: Owner/manager Kellie Paterson McHugh
Website »

More information

Local community heroes from the Chapel Hill Police Department show that they are also “Reading Role Models” by reading a story or two with kids and answering questions about the work...

Cost: Free

Where:
Chapel Hill Public Library, Programming Room
100 Library Dr.
Chapel Hill, NC  27514
View map »


Sponsor: Chapel Hill Public Library
Telephone: 919-969-2036
Contact Name: Daniel Siler
Website »

More information

Spread a picnic blanket for garden stories and crafts. Meet at the Bobby G. Wilder Visitor Center. Ages 3-5 with adult. Dress for the weather as this program is held outdoors. Activities are moved...

Cost: Free for members, $5/nonmembers

Where:
JC Raulston Arboretum
4415 Beryl Road
Raleigh, NC  27606-1446
View map »


Telephone: (919) 513-7011
Contact Name: Elizabeth Overcash
Website »

More information

Kids spend a night out in nature making memories and new friends in an old-fashioned, camp-style program. Ages 8-12. Registration required.

Cost: $18/resident, $23/nonresident

Where:
Stevens Nature Center/Hemlock Bluffs
2616 Kildaire Farm Rd.
Raleigh, NC
View map »


Telephone: 919-387-5980
Website »

More information

Families gather for an overnight experience complete with a naturalist-led night hike, a light Dutch oven dinner, s'mores for the kids, breakfast, and time for fishing and boating in the...

Cost: $20 adults, $15 youth

Where:
Durant Nature Preserve
8305 Camp Durant Rd.
Raleigh, NC  27614
View map »


Telephone: 919-870-2871
Website »

More information

Take a look at the monsters and beasts that inhabit our dreams and folktales by peering through different lenses to explore the beauty, monstrousness and magic of these creatures as Paperhand...

Cost: Suggested donations are $8 for kids, $15 for adults

Where:
Forest Theatre
123 S. Boundary St.
Chapel Hill, NC  27514
View map »


Telephone: 919-962-0522
Website »

More information

Roast marshmallows over the fire and go on a short night hike to see who is out and about. Marshmallows and roasting sticks provided. Take a camp chair and water bottle. All ages. Meet at the...

Cost: $1/person

Where:
Harris Lake County Park
2112 County Park Dr.
New Hill, NC
View map »


Telephone: 919-387-4342
Website »

More information

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After basic instruction, explore the pond's many features by canoe. Canoes, paddles and life jackets provided. Ages 6 and older with adult. Canoes fit 2 adults and 2 children. The first session...

Cost: $10/boat

Where:
Historic Yates Mill County Park
4620 Lake Wheeler Rd.
Raleigh, NC
View map »


Telephone: 919-856-6675
Website »

More information

The Lazy Daze Arts and Crafts Festival celebrates its 40th anniversary by expanding the one-day festival to two days. Enjoy arts and crafts from vendors from across the Southeast, festival foods,...

Cost: Free

Where:
Town of Cary Town Hall Campus
316 N. Academy St.
Cary, NC  27513
View map »


Website »

More information

Mix, mold and decorate a stepping stone. Children must be accompanied by an adult. Registration required.

Cost: $5/child

Where:
Logan's Garden Shp
707 Semart Dr.
Raleigh, NC  27604
View map »


Website »

More information

Ages 3-5 and caregiver celebrate  little ruby-throated hummingbirds with stories, craft, play and hands-on exploration in the summer blooming garden. Register online.

Cost: $8/member, $10/nonmember

Where:
North Carolina Botanical Garden
100 Old Mason Farm Rd
Chapel Hill, NC  27517
View map »


Sponsor: North Carolina Botanical Garden
Telephone: 919-537-3770
Contact Name: Elisha Taylor
Website »

More information

Kids ages 5-11 and their adult companions enjoy a 30-minute tour. Meet at the West Building Information Desk.

Cost: Free

Where:
N.C. Museum of Art
2110 Blue Ridge Rd.
Raleigh, NC  27607
View map »


Telephone: 919-839-6262
Website »

More information

Fish the old-fashioned way with a cane pole. Equipment, instruction and assistance with identifying fish species provided. Ages 5 and older with adult. Registration required.

Cost: $1/person

Where:
Historic Yates Mill County Park
4620 Lake Wheeler Rd.
Raleigh, NC
View map »


Telephone: 919-856-6675
Website »

More information

Explore moon lore as it relates to agriculture, the autumnal equinox and the harvest season. Head into the park to gaze at the full "Green Corn" or "Grain" moon. Ages 5 and...

Cost: $1/person

Where:
Historic Yates Mill County Park
4620 Lake Wheeler Rd.
Raleigh, AL
View map »


Telephone: 919-856-6675
Website »

More information

Features food trucks, more than 20 local businesses, games for the entire family and more.

Cost: Free

Where:
Downtown Fuquay-Varina
322 S. Main St.
Fuquay-Varina, NC
View map »


Website »

More information

Families enjoy a free craft, workshop, giveaway, photo download and activities.

Cost: Free

Where:
Bass Pro Shop
801 Bass Pro Lane
Cary, NC  27513
View map »


Website »

More information

Little ninjas learning how to kick, punch, yell, jump, and roll, and then put their skills to the test on a Ninja Warrior-inspired obstacle course, followed by board breaking time lead by a master...

Cost: $18/first child, $12/additional children

Where:
Original Strength Institute
101 S. Main St.
Fuquay-Varina, NC  27526
View map »


Telephone: 919-576-5526
Contact Name: Danae Canna
Website »

More information

Take a stroll in the creek to search for frogs, fish and more. Ages 10-13. Registration required.

Cost: $12/resident, $16/nonresident

Where:
Stevens Nature Center/Hemlock Bluffs
2616 Kildaire Farm Rd.
Raleigh, NC
View map »


Telephone: 919-387-5980
Website »

More information

Learn how you can help conserve this valuable state symbol. Meet Lake Crabtree's adopted turtle, Shel Silverstein, and join park staff on a box turtle survey. Enjoy an opportunity to search for...

Cost: $1/person

Where:
Lake Crabtree County Park
1400 Aviation Parkway
Morrisville, NC  27560
View map »


Sponsor: Lake Crabtree County Park
Telephone: 919-460-3355
Contact Name: Carol Cunningham
Website »

More information

Enjoy live music, fresh cooked seafood, barbecue and more. Healthy, locally sourced cuisine from participating chefs, food trucks and restaurants will be served throughout the day featuring fresh...

Cost: $8 advance tickets, $10 at the door. Ages 12 and younger admitted free.

Where:
Raleigh Beer Garden
614 Glenwood Avenue
Raleigh, NC
View map »


Website »

More information

Discover the American Tobacco Trail's new GeoArt project and learn the basics of the high-tech treasure hunt. Learn what geocaching is and search for some newly placed geocaches along the...

Cost: $1/person

Where:
American Tobacco Trail
1309 New Hill-Olive Chapel Rd.
Apex, NC  27502
View map »


Telephone: 919-387-4342
Website »

More information

Families gather for an overnight experience complete with a naturalist-led night hike, a light Dutch oven dinner, s'mores for the kids, breakfast, and time for fishing and boating in the...

Cost: $20 adults, $15 youth

Where:
Durant Nature Preserve
8305 Camp Durant Rd.
Raleigh, NC  27614
View map »


Telephone: 919-870-2871
Website »

More information

Kids ages 7-17 take part in a hands-on magic workshop. Learn the performance art of theatrical magic from local masters on the second and fourth Saturday of each month. Details available at...

Cost: $10

Where:
The Magic Corner Magic Shop
3684 Capital Blvd.
Raleigh, NC  27604
View map »


Sponsor: Ring #199,The Int'l Brotherhood of Magicians
Telephone: 919-272-6465
Contact Name: Roger Way
Website »

More information

Enjoy an evening walk to learn about owls. Listen for owl calls and coyotes’ howls as we search by ear, as well as sight, for some of the night’s early risers. Turn logs and search for...

Cost: Free

Where:
Johnston Mill Nature Preserve
6001 Turkey Farm Road
Chapel Hill, NC  27514
View map »


Sponsor: Triangle Land Conservancy
Telephone: 919-908-0054
Contact Name: Barbara Goldentyer
Website »

More information

Take a look at the monsters and beasts that inhabit our dreams and folktales by peering through different lenses to explore the beauty, monstrousness and magic of these creatures as Paperhand...

Cost: Suggested donations are $8 for kids, $15 for adults

Where:
Forest Theatre
123 S. Boundary St.
Chapel Hill, NC  27514
View map »


Telephone: 919-962-0522
Website »

More information

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