Saturday sadness: Staff and diners prepare for Tavern closing

We sent photographer Tom Daly to the Tavern, the Emmet Street breakfast place where "students, tourists, and townpeople meet," to try to capture some flavor as the venerable diner prepares to close down. Business owner Shelly Gordon and property owner Clara Belle Wheeler haven't come to terms on extending the lease, so Gordon has set the restaurant's departure date as Saturday, December 24. Daly shot his photographs on Saturday, December 10.


is this the same Clara Belle who is a member in good standing of our local Tea Party?

Another one of my old haunts goes away. I had breakfast there Saturday morning for the last time as well. Shelly's family and mine go back a long way in C'ville. His brother Bill and my uncle Ed were running buddies. I was a regular customer in the mid-'80s and used to work a couple of doors up from there.

The Tavern was at its best when Tony Harvey (recently deceased) ran it back in the mid 60s. Best hot pastrami sandwich ever. And the french fries in the little wooden bowl!. Not to mention the cold beer.

The landlord wants to tear it all down and put in a new larger pharmacy.

Just what Cville needs is another pharmacy, especially with at least two being across the street. Whatever goes up there I won't support. Some things should be left alone. It's a shame money and greed always get in the way.
I love the Tavern and will miss it.


"new larger pharmacy"?? A national chain to compete with the existing independent (and excellent) pharmacy and store?

Landlords like the checks that come from a national office and are pretty much solid. Barracks Road has tossed many a local biz for national chains.

Oh, those pesky private property rights. Ms. Wheeler is entitled to choese to do what she wants to do with property for which she has both ownership and responsibility. I know you Commons-lovers and stakeholders in Charlottesville think everything belongs to the community, but it doesn't. None of you has any money or legal responsibility invested in it.

I've eaten at the Tavern a few times with each visit spaced long enough apart in an effort to forget what I disliked about it to give it another chance. I'll say this for it - it was amazingly consistent. Dull, ancient decor. Questionable cleanliness. Unremarkable food. Lackluster service. Frankly, I'm surprised it did enough business to stay open as long as it did and I wouldn't bring anyone there with better options available.

Ms. Wheeler, best of luck with whatever new enterprise you choose to put in the Tavern's place. A year from now, Charlottesville will have long forgotten this hash haven.

What we need in that spot is a new CVS. I hate having to go into the parking lot of Barrack's to get to the CVS. If there was a nice, new shiny CVS there: it would be great.

Just a guess, but I think the landlord had already received a sweet offer from another business to either rent or buy the property. After all, why would Clara hold out for a higher rent unless there was a better offer already in her back pocket? It is entirely possible that she was quite straight forward about this in negotiating a new lease, in effect giving the Tavern an opportunity to remain in place. Too bad that the Tavern will disappear from their old haunt, but who knows? They may pop up somewhere else.

never in my life heard as much whining over a closure. gordon, pack your bags. wondering if some crybabies this story are jealous they don't own the land. owner can,will do whatever he wants and smart for property owner to make a profit.

Dear Mr. Editor,
I suggest you consider eliminating anonymous posts.
What could possibly be lost if posters had to use their real names?
Do you not find yourself perpetually disappointed by the idiocy and cruelty of many anonymous posts?
Certainly no one here, including myself, has any credibility hiding behind a made-up name.
Be interested to know your thoughts.

Big Dog, what is your own real name?

"Oh, those pesky private property rights"

I don't hear anyone questioning Clara Belles' legal rights to refuse to renew the lease. Nobody is suggesting government intervention. I hear customers upset about the loss of a tradition they enjoy and who are not interested in spending their money at another enterprise on this site. I guess if you're constantly looking for liberal entitlement you'll find it just about anywhere.

Suppose your favorite gun shop were being replaced by a yoga studio. Would you celebrate? Would you feel compelled to take up yoga in order to honor the "property rights" of the landowner? No you would complain, and that's what these customers are free to do.

re: "Suppose your favorite gun shop were being replaced by a yoga studio. Would you celebrate? Would you feel compelled to take up yoga in order to honor the "property rights" of the landowner? No you would complain, and that's what these customers are free to do."

Nailed it.

new reality, you and others continue to bang a head against the wall. won't do a bit of good, will it?go ahead, waste your time complaining.what I'm reading here is too many spoiled pancake blimps criticising the owner for using his head in making wise decision.that part I don't get.sounds like jealousy to me.

Needed : Chinese

Big Dog,
Do they call you Mr.Dog or Mrs.Dog?

Small Dog

As for the tavern, it was an alternative to the franchise theme. Not the best of food but not the worst either.

I wish there were an alternative local business that provided what the Tavern provided....but the fact is, the place is NASTY and should have been closed down by the Health Department years ago. If you ever took young kids there that needed to go to the bathroom, you know what I mean. I'm all for local business and want to support proprietors, but not necessarily those who don't do the bare minimum necessary to keep a reasonably clean and sanitary environment, especially where food is concerned. Sorry fans, but that's the fact of the place.

No, we don't need a new free-standing CVS. The current one is on the bus line, which is huge for a lot of us. Having to walk across Barracks Road would make it much more dangerous. I would, however, welcome a Walgreen's to give CVS some competition in the area.

For an old-timer, it is the loss of a tradition. A place where we ate as youth and years later took our own children. The Tavern was a point of reference on our drives to and away from Barracks Road with those bold letters on the roof and a point of reference in our lives . . . individually and collectively. Our community keeps losing these physical "references" to old Charlottesville and once it's gone you just can't get it back. It's not about the food . . . it's about community, a place that held the "textures" of so many different times. This is not about Clara Belle Wheeler so much as it is about the upcoming loss of "shared history."

It damn sure ain't about the food. Tradition is overrated.

The Tavern was my favorite dive ever,, lots of great conversations, biscuits, running into old friends and like some have said, a rare thing in the mass market world. So long old friend. ( yes its a dive, if you need shiny spotless dining go to the hundreds of other places in CV)