Former lawyer creates haven for recovering addicts through Carolina Krave lounge

By Sara Raja

It was Elizabeth Gardner’s birthday, but she didn’t feel like celebrating. She was an attorney and had court in the morning. Her friend, however, was insisting they go out.

“I’ll take you anywhere,” her friend said. “Tell me where you wanna go, and we’ll go.”

Gardner was starting to give in, but she didn’t want to go to a traditional bar.

“I really can’t stomach looking at any more broken lives [having] a celebration moment,” she said.

She typed “bar alternatives” into Google and Purple Lotus Kava Bar popped up. So, they went.

The bartender explained to them how tea made from the root of the kava plant could have relaxing and euphoric effects. 

Even more than the tea, Gardner was impressed by the sense of community in the bar. 

“All the people knew each other by their first name,” she said. “And they were all talking to me, welcoming me, explaining what it’s about to me.”

Eleven years later, Gardner owns Krave, a Kava Bar and Tea Lounge, with three locations in North Carolina. 

Her life’s goal has always been to combat drug addiction. 

She used to do it as an attorney in Florida, but now she does it by providing a drug-free space where people can find community.

Gardner quickly became a regular at Purple Lotus and eventually became the owner’s lawyer. 

When she received her inheritance, she moved back to North Carolina with the goal of opening a kava bar.

Breaking out of her shell 

As a child, Gardner said she was shy a wallflower even.

She’s also a Hillsborough, North Carolina native whose grandparents worked in the textile mills. 

She attended UNC-Chapel Hill in the 1980s and was a member of Sigma Sigma Sigma sorority. 

Although she was a reserved college student, Gardner was appointed social chair of the sorority. 

Suddenly, she was meeting with fraternity brothers and organizing mixers. That time was pivotal in her life.

“It forced me to be me, and I’m so grateful for that experience,” she said. “It’s the discomfort in life that has led to my biggest growth.”

In college, Gardner wasn’t sure what career path she wanted to pursue and she sat down with a friend to pour over the list of majors at UNC-CH. 

Together, they envisioned the type of career that would come with each.

She settled on law and enrolled in a prep class.

“I thought ‘If it’s meant to be, it’s going to happen,’” she said. “Gonna throw the spaghetti on the wall, see what sticks.”

Law stuck. She went on to attend law school in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, eventually becoming a defense attorney. 

Her goal was to combat drug addiction by using the power of the court and improving the rehabilitation process.

For Gardner, addiction hits home

Gardner has an older cousin who still struggles with addiction. He has to rely on his mother, because he isn’t able to be independent.

A lot of other people in her family deal with addiction as well — with many of them becoming addicted after being prescribed opiates by a doctor. 

Gardner realized the problem was all around her. Most people were using prescription or illegal drugs, or at least drinking alcohol.

“Everything’s designed around it,” she said. “If you celebrate, you drink. If you are having a bad day, drink. You don’t realize that over time it’s killing your liver.”

She often represented clients struggling with addiction who got in trouble with the law. She hoped to use the court system as a way to help people turn around their lives. 

“You can force them to look at another way, and in their sober mind, they might choose to use that to make a better life,” she said.

She remembers spending a Thanksgiving sitting in jail with a woman, who was a prostitute that used drugs.

One person walked in to thank Gardner for sitting with the woman. “To me, [that] was worth all the other hundreds of people that I never saw again,” she said. 

She loved being a lawyer, from the thrill of the jury being seated to the trial beginning. 

But she didn’t enjoy the administrative work of running her own practice. So, when she received her inheritance, she set her sights on returning to her home state. 

By now she had met her husband, Joshua Pardue. They were introduced at a live-action role-playing vampire event.

She spotted him across the room and asked her friends who he was. 

Building a community of love

In 2015, they moved to North Carolina together to open the Carrboro location of Krave.

The building is on Main Street. When you walk into the dimly lit front room, you’ll see patrons chatting at the bar while the bartender serves a range of kava and kratom teas. 

Pieces of art, many of them created by patrons of the bar, cover the walls. 

In the back room, there are comfortable places to sit and calming, somewhat psychedelic images are projected onto one wall. 

A mural of a purple lotus on the opposite wall is a nod to the place Gardner first discovered kava. 

The bar staff welcomes anyone who walks in, ready to explain the effects of kava tea. 

A variety of people can be found at Krave. 

Gardner said the bar tends to attract creative types of all ages. Some patrons have struggled with addiction in the past and use kava as an alternative to drugs or alcohol. 

Arod Rodriguez is one example. He said kava helped him quit using drugs. Rodriguez met Gardner at Purple Lotus back in Florida. 

Now, she is like a sister to him. 

Gardner helped him through a breakup and he ended up moving to North Carolina to work in one of her bars. 

He described her as the type of person to take the shirt off her back to help keep someone warm.

“There isn’t one wall she can’t climb or can’t encourage you to climb,” he said. “She’ll encourage you to overcome anything.”

Gardner is proud of the communities that form at her bars. Some patrons have been coming for years.

When something happens to a member of the community, such as a drug or alcohol relapse, everyone is deeply affected.

“I’ve seen people get jobs, spouses, roommates,” she said. “It’s a nice network of support.”

Jordan Browning has been a bartender at Krave’s Carrboro location since 2018. He said Gardner makes an effort to cultivate community in the bar.

“I’ve always seen Liz as someone that a lot of folks… have who’s good to talk to,” he said.

Since 2015, Gardner has opened two more Krave locations in Greensboro and Raleigh. 

The Raleigh location opened just a few weeks ago with a big celebration featuring DJs and Hawaiian dancers.

Gardner was excited to finally open the new location and pleased with the large turnout at the celebration.

She said she’s an example of why people should never judge others by their circumstances. 

“I’ve heard a lot of people say ‘Who would have ever thought you would have been a lawyer?’” Gardner said. “Maybe it’s because I’m from West Hillsborough, or maybe it’s because my family worked in the mills, or maybe it’s because I’m shy.”

“But don’t ever discount the underdog. We have a lot to offer the world,” she said.

Editing by Brianna Atkinson and Brooke Dougherty


Tennessee native and activist uplifts UNC community as co-president of Campus Y 

By Guillermo Molero

Sometimes they’re blue. Other times they’re green — a little corduroy number stretching from head to toe. Or maybe burnt orange or bright yellow, like leaves falling from trees.

Whatever color they are, Megan Murphy always wears overalls. 

For the co-president of Campus Y, a student-run advocacy group at UNC-Chapel Hill, they’re more than just a fashion choice. Overalls have long been a symbol of her willingness to take charge and do what she must to get things done. 

The Nashville native was always involved in something.

Murphy’s road to activism

When she was a young girl, her mother, a local chaplain, founded an initiative to help women who had been the victims of violence and trafficking. 

These women were all around Murphy during her childhood. They were her babysitters. They watched her and her friends build makeshift towns out of old cardboard boxes and other junk in her yard.

They were farmhands, by her side as she tilled the soil in her overalls. They were at Thanksgiving, passing mashed potatoes and cranberry sauce along a crowded table. 

They were family and Murphy did everything she could to help them.

“I was 8 years old with a very complex understanding of injustice, inequality and systemic reasons why people would end up in the situations that they were in,” Murphy said.

“And it made me really fiercely angry, honestly.”

That fire kept burning all throughout high school, even if she wasn’t the liveliest kid when she first started there. She was an aspiring ballerina, whose most distinguishable trait was her good posture — that is, to those who didn’t know her better. 

“I wouldn’t say she was shy,” said Spindel, a friend that Murphy met in seventh grade.

“This is still Megan Murphy we’re talking about.”

Spindel, who prefers to be referred to by their last name, talked about how Murphy eventually garnered a reputation for activism, even if she was quieter than most. 

A baby radical in a sea of plaid-skirt conservatives, Murphy found herself blacklisted by the “cool girls.” They often made group chats to make fun of Murphy’s more “liberal” beliefs. 

They added insult to injury by including her friends in these toxic text groups. 

After being cast aside because of her body type at an audition, Murphy permanently stepped away from ballet. It was difficult for her, she said. 

But the dance she once thought so beautiful and graceful had become repetitive and repressive. 

Murphy’s pointe shoes felt like shackles; her tights were suffocating. She needed to break free. 

And through her activism, she did.

The 2016 election came around the same time as that audition. Spindel talked about how the moment marked a turning point for Murphy. It was almost an enlightenment.

Murphy had become fed up with the toxic rhetoric of that election’s eventual winner. She was shocked by the apathy displayed in those supporting him and how they treated disadvantaged communities. 

She couldn’t just stand by as the world around her became nastier. Murphy had to do something. She had to help them. 

She had to make a change — and she had to do it right then and there. 

“The thing that’s unique about her is that it’s not about her at all,” Spindel said. 

“It’s not about Megan Murphy.”

 And it wasn’t.

It was about those battered women she had helped as a child and who she still works with today. Murphy is committed to helping them move on from their painful pasts and start a new life that is filled with love. 

It was about the victims of gun violence. She helped rally 300 classmates to walk out of school during the March for Our Lives.

It was about people in Nashville struggling with homelessness, whom she went to bat for at all those Town Council meetings. She sought to help them cope with the onset of gentrification in their neighborhoods.

“And that was what I lived and breathed,” Murphy said.

“It was everything to me.”

From Nashville to Chapel Hill

Murphy eventually applied to UNC because of the Campus Y, which she saw as the perfect place to continue serving her community. 

But this time, she’d have more help doing it — help from people like Laura Saavedra Forero, who joined the group last year. 

At the same time, Murphy was in charge of recruitment for the group. Both Murphy and Saavedra Forero ran into each other often at meetings for first-years and other new members. 

Not long after, they started hanging out outside the confines of the Y and quickly became close friends.

November of 2021 saw another turning point for Murphy, this time while sitting in her home alongside Saavedra Forero. 

The two of them were eating tomato soup and grilled cheese. Murphy slightly burnt hers, but it still tasted good. 

They talked about what their experiences had been like at the Y, all of the great work they’d done so far and what they wanted to do in the future. 

Murphy shared her thoughts, good and bad, with her legs stretched out on the floor where they sat. Then Saavedra Forero. Then back again to Murphy. 

Eventually, Murphy and Saavedra Forero decided they could do more than they were doing at the time. So they both ran for the group’s co-presidency. In the spring of 2022, they won. Then it was back to work. 

Only just getting started

Saavedra Forero said the start to this year has been a dream due to the word that she, Murphy and their executive team have been able to accomplish.

They have supported their campus community and helped those seeking affordable housing in Chapel Hill.

But she also said that it’s Murphy’s kindness and her effervescent energy that has made the job all the more fulfilling. 

“She’s stepped in and showed up, especially during some of the hardest times that I’ve had, both as a friend and as co-president,” Saavedra Forero said.

When Saavedra Forero went through major surgery this summer, Murphy was always the first one to ask how she was doing and tell her she loved her.

And when her friend Sam Toenjes needed a roommate this semester, Murphy was there, too. 

He met Megan at first-year student orientation in 2019, and the two have been good friends ever since. 

Murphy’s current achievements would probably surprise many of her high school friends, but Toenjes said he knew immediately that Murphy had a knack for that sort of thing.

“I mean, the overalls at orientation were a pretty dead giveaway,” Toenjes said. 

He said living with her has been simple. Murphy always knows when to step in, whether to do chores around the house when Toenjes is studying or to ask if he wants to get coffee when he’s having a bad day.

“She’s so intuitively helpful. She can always sense when something’s off,” Toenjes said. 

“She has a sixth sense for these things.”

Murphy deeply knows what it means to help other people and is more than willing to put her ego aside to do it. She always has.

Edited by Caleb Sigmon and Brooke Dougherty


Sophomore finds home on the water: a look inside UNC women’s crew

By Ivy Young

An alarm goes off. Sophomore Chloe Schneider rolls over in bed. Her twinkle lights come on, and she forces herself to put her feet on the floor. Above her, in the top bunk, her roommate, Lydia, groans. It is 5:30 in the morning. 

After scarfing down a granola bar and changing into navy spandex, Schneider is out the door and heading to Carmichael Gymnasium. She checks her watch, only to realize that she’s running a few minutes behind. If she doesn’t run, she won’t make it.

An hour later, she is in the middle of the boat with eight other girls watching the sun rise over Jordan Lake. 

Six days a week, Chloe Schneider is up at 5:30 a.m. to practice with the University of North Carolina women’s crew team. Starting at 7 a.m., the team rows for more than an hour before returning to campus. And, after a day’s worth of classes, she will have practice again, this time lifting weights in the basement of Carmichael Gym. 

Beginning her athletics journey 

A year ago, she was an ordinary college first-year. Now, she is a Division 1 athlete at one of the top public schools in the country. 

Last fall, Schneider was walking back from a campus ministry event when she started talking to the girl walking beside her. The girl told her that the women’s crew team took walk-on athletes, and that tryouts were the week after Christmas break. 

“I said that she should let me know if she heard anything else,” Schneider said. “But I never saw that girl again.”

Prompted by the exchange, she emailed the new coach, who sent her a recruiting questionnaire and told her how to prepare for tryouts. 

Although walk-ons usually try out in the fall, the team had just gotten a new coach, Erin Neppel, the former assistant coach at the University of Virginia. Because of the change in leadership, the team’s schedule was thrown off and tryouts were held in the spring. 

Walking onto a college sports team is no small feat, but Schneider felt that she had a good chance. Because she was tall and muscular, people were always asking her if she was a rower or a swimmer. 

“I just thought it would be so cool if I could finesse my way into becoming a D1 athlete,” she said, laughing. 

Seeking community

But beyond the glamour of becoming a college athlete, Schneider was looking for something on the crew team that she was having a hard time finding anywhere else: a real community.

Her sister, Emma Schneider, graduated from North Carolina State University last year and loved every second of college. Although she lived in the same dorm as a number of her close high school friends, Schneider was having a hard time getting that same experience. 

She said that because UNC is so big, it does not always feel supportive. It seemed like students were being pitted against one another and forced to compete for limited resources and opportunities. Her mother, Lynn Schneider, said something similar. 

“N.C. State is very collaborative, but it feels like Chapel Hill is more fragmented,” said Lynn Schneider.

One benefit of being a student athlete is that UNC pays special attention. Student athletes have access to tutors, advisors and academic coaches, often without the student having to seek them out.   

There are also all the side benefits of playing a sport. Athletes walk around wearing special gear and navy backpacks, instantly recognizable. Schneider does not have to go to Lenoir Hall anymore, because she can get food from Loudermilk Hall, the dining hall specifically for student athletes. 

“I think being able to go to the Fueling Station is my favorite perk,” she said. “I get like four points a day, and every snack is a point.” 

Sitting at a picnic table outside the Student Union, Isabel Inman, one of Schneider’s best friends, said that she wishes Chloe still ate at the regular dining hall but understands why she made the change. “I’ve heard the ham sandwiches from Loudermilk are to die for,” Inman said.  

‘Courage doesn’t mean not being afraid’

Before Schneider tried out for the crew team, Inman didn’t even know that it existed. After all, women’s rowing has only been an official UNC sport for about 20 years. Before Title IX, both the men’s and women’s teams were club. Now only the men’s team is. 

The UNC women’s rowing team is one of the only D1 rowing teams that does not have its own facility. Typically, the team will practice on erg machines on the basketball courts in Woollen Gymnasium, where there is no air conditioning. Recently during practice, two girls passed out from heat exhaustion. 

The team also cannot host regattas, or rowing competitions, because it lacks the capacity to host them. Kathyrn Cummings, a sophomore on the team, said that this is one of the reasons people assume women’s rowing is just a club team. 

“There’s kind of a stigma against us, because people think that it’s not a real sport,” Cummings said. 

Lynn Schneider remembers her daughter’s high school fear of public speaking and recalls how the thought of a presentation would keep her up at night. She said that Chloe chose to pursue student government, a position that would force her to speak in public and represent her high school class. 

“She refused to let it defeat her,” Lynn Schneider said. “She’s always made me think of the saying that says courage doesn’t mean not being afraid but being afraid and doing it anyway.” 

Despite all these difficulties, Chloe Schneider has earned a spot on the team and is respected as a strong rower. Cummings said that Schneider typically sits in the middle of the boat, a place reserved for the more powerful rowers. 

And even though the other students in her ECON 410 class might not know she is on the team, Chloe likes it that way. Sitting on a bench in white tennis shoes and patterned shorts, she said that her experience in college athletics has never been about the glamour. 

“I like that I do hard things and no one else has to know that,” said Schneider.

Editing by Brooke Dougherty and Hannah Collett