Opened in 1972 in the shadow of the University of North Carolina, He’s Not Here is famous for its 32 ounces of beer or cider served in signature blue cups. The Chapel Hill dive bar serves no wine, liquor or food, focusing on the simple things, like cramming as much beer or cider into a powder blue plastic cup as possible. Originally opened under the name Carolina Keg and then He’s Not Here on Village Green, the name settled on its current incarnation though no origin story to the new has ever been confirmed. The dive bar lists multiple potential backstories for the name, including using the phrase as a frequent response to friends, girlfriends, wives and creditors calling the bar.
In front, a small yellow awning with the name of the bar sits on the second floor of what used to be a mechanic’s garage, the two lower bays still visible in the outline of the first floor. The space inside includes a small bar and cramped quarters, but the real draw to He’s Not Here is the beer garden out back where ample space and picnic tables take advantage of the Chapel Hill weather. Concerts are held on this back patio area on a rolling basis and even James Taylor played He’s Not Here before making it big. Though the space was sold in 2012, the Chapel Hill dive bar was purchased by UNC alumni, a good sign for ensuring its long-term viability. A massive Chapel Hill mural was added to the side of the building, one of the area’s signature elements and as good excuse as any to stop by and grab a blue cup while there.