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.