Jason's Deli: Unblanking a wall, chain readies for August opening

A representative for Jason's Deli stood before the County Architectural Review Board on Monday, May 7, hoping to hammer out details concerning the exterior renovation of the old 5,900-square-foot Raggazi's building in Shoppers World on 29 North.

Last October, Ragazzi's Italian Restaurant closed after over a decade of serving up the "taste of Italy... without the passport," as their slogan said, and there was speculation that a Jason's Deli, the Beaumont, Texas-based chain known for offering healthy food that's free of transfats, MSG, and high-fructose corn syrup, would move in. Then, in March, a Shoppers World tenant list (released when fashion retail chain Stein Mart and designer shoe warehouse store DSW went before this Board) confirmed that Jason's Deli was part of the new mix.

At issue at the ARB meeting: how to make the building less darkly cavernous as Raggazi's had been, and how to make a blank, north-facing wall less, well, blank. The regional manager for Jason's, Alex Williams, who admitted he was a novice at facing architectural boards, proposed putting large photos of food on the blank wall.

While ARB member Charles Lebo said he'd recently visited a Jason's Deli and ate the "best reuben I've ever had," he wondered why windows couldn't be installed in the blank wall.

Williams explained that the kitchen and prep areas were behind that section, so windows wouldn't bring much light into the dining area. He also said that other windows had already been added.

ARB member John Quale called the food pictures a "weird idea" and agreed with other members that it would amount to advertising. In the end, ARB members suggested that architectural elements be added to the surface of the wall that would appear to break it up into sections.

After the presentation, Williams said they were pushing for an August 2012 opening date, depending on how work with the renovation was going.

"We're really excited to be coming to Charlottesville," said Williams.


Jason's will be a great addition to the local food scene. Good, healthy food; reasonable prices and good service. That building has been ugly for about thirty years. A nice mural on the blank wall or a welcome to Charlottesville, home of Thomas Jefferson and the University of Virginia. billboard look might make it more attractive.

Deleted by moderator.

why did my comment get deleted?

Because you hurled insults.--hawes spencer

* Language stronger than "darn," insults, ethnically or racially disparaging language, and comparisons to Hitler usually result in speedy comment deletion and may get you blocked from further commenting. Ditto for posting unverified and/or potentially libelous allegations, and even off-topic digression. And to avoid spam, any comment containing more than two links gets eaten by Bigfoot.

OK, how about I prefer other delis?

sorry, I'm from NYC, I forgot how fragile peoples feelings are here

No one is making you stay. But you are in the south, not Midtown, so please bring your manners into line.

ok, jimi.... I thought you were dead?

Question for the ARB: If the wall was sufficient when it was operated by Ragazzi's, then why are we making a new operator change it? Seems like we're forcing a change just to make a change, adding to the expense of a new business in the county.

Curiously enough, I actually died closer to the Great Depression than today. Now, dont you feel old?

why would that comment make me feel old? are you experienced?

Omg love Jasons!

Sorry, it is all a haze right now.


That building had a blank wall for 20 years beore Ragazxi's moved in. The arb needs to lay off this kind of micromanaging. They are impressed with their own powers.

Almost as ridiculous as the review board trying to specify what color the exterior of Trader Joe's should be--does it need to be more 'jeffersony'

@ Dave McNair - I'll assume from the article it's the business who wants "to make the building less darkly cavernous." but is it the business or the ARB that wants to "make a blank, north-facing wall less, well, blank"?

if Mr.Lebo is wondering about windows in the "blank" wall,maybe he should have done something about that when he managed that shopping center a while back.