Shoppers exodus: China King moves to Hibachi Grill

The gigantic China King Buffet is the latest tenant to vacate the increasingly empty store-fronted Shoppers World, moving down the road to the Hibachi Grill on Seminole Trail.

China King owner Gui Chen says Shoppers World wouldn't renew the Buffet's lease.

"They tried to get everyone out," says Chen, whose large eatery of sushi, grilled meats, and vegetable dishes occupied the site of the once-popular Katie's Country Club nightspot until the last days of December.

In 2011, the 169,000-square-foot shopping center also lost such tenants Whole Foods, Super Shoes and Ragazzi's. And with the upcoming opening of Stonefield, and the apparent glut of commercial real estate in nearby U.S. 29 shopping centers, such as Albemarle Square and Seminole Square, the big question is what owner Federal Realty Investment Trust, which also owns Barracks Road Shopping Center, has planned.

The Rockville, Maryland-based real estate investment company bought the aging Shoppers World for $27.2 million in 2007, and a recent shuffling of tenants Advance Auto and Massage Envy suggests that the company may entice a big box.

"I can tell you that Federal Realty is currently in conversations with a number of retailers for Shoppers World that would bring a very attractive range of goods and services to the Charlottesville market," says marketing director Andrea Simpson. "I cannot share the names of the retailers but look forward to making the announcements as soon as the commitments are finalized."

"Maybe they're biding their time to redo the whole thing," says real estate expert Richard Spurzem. "The location is pretty strong across from Fashion Square Mall, and Federal Realty knows what they're doing."

On January 1, after a less than three-day shut-down, the new entity known as the China King Buffet and Hibachi Grill opened for business in a building with a history of buffet dining. The nearly 12,000-square-foot structure that once housed Golden Corral has been touted as the largest restaurant in town.

Chen says he purchased Hibachi Grill from Patrick Li, and will provide about 250 dishes seven days a week from 11am to 10:30pm.

"Their food is my food," says Chen. Lunch is around $7, dinner around $10.

Correction 1/10/12: The original version erroneously put the 2007 sales price of Shoppers World at $7.2 million. That was the price of two parcels. Two other parcels were $20 million, making the total price Federal Realty paid $27.2 million.


the fish dish is delish


A Super shoes salesperson said right before Christmas that they were moving to next/near Big Lots this month (Jan 2012).

"may entice a big box."

Staples is still there and the last time I checked, it was a "big box" store.

Super Shoes is moving into the Northwing of Seminole Square.

@Hook: Check your sales price for Shoppers, they purchased two of the 3 parcels for $20,000,000. I believe the other parcel was bought over $7,000,000 (for a total of over $27MM). Your sales price listed is the assessment on one of the three parcels. The total assessment of all three parcels is approx $20,000,000.

olive garden and trader joe's
but what did thy know


building permits this week show 4 "units " being demoed & all combined to 1 store. See daily progress Monday jan 2nd. business.

I hope it's Dart Drug.

know it all,

Also find a permit later for "removal and replacement of storefront system" later in the same list.

I'd like to welcome our new earth tone overlords to the area across from the mall.

I'm a little concerned. China King had started to slip a little. The buffet wasn't up to par anymore and the grill had become lackadaisical and stale. The crablegs had become so pathetic that paying 11 dollars for it seemed like a ripoff. Hibachi Grill had become the place to go to for variety and they had coconut shrimp. I'm hoping the new owners don't ruin what had become a good family eating place.

Didn't Cville have an Olive Garden years ago... no wait, just Red Lobster twice. Why not ressurect something cool, like A&P. I like the Dart Drug idea, as well.

I don't get what the fuss was about for China King. I went there once years ago and was not impressed. Tried it one more time a couple of months ago and it was still crappy.

And Hibachi Grill? Don't even get me started. Bigger does not automatically mean better. We went there only once, and it was tacky and not one food item (that I ate) was done better than what I've experienced at other buffets. They do a whole lot of things.............*but they don't do any one thing really well.* And that's the problem. There wasn't one thing that was a standout in terms of flavor or quality. In fact it was all pretty subpar.

I think too many people here are bumpkins who don't know any better.

Costco.....enough said.


As long as ASIAN FUSION and EAST GARDEN ARE around there is no need to go near China King.