More savory changes in Seminole Square

A worker cuts metal studs as part of the ongoing effort to move Charlottesville's Outback Steakhouse from Albemarle Square to Seminole Square. The popular chain steakery will take the place of Cheeseburger in Paradise, a Parrothead-friendly chain that spans 17 states.

Next door, The Boathouse Grille, a slightly upscale restaurant that opened in 2008, closed without fanfare around the end of August. A "no trespassing" sign greets passersby, the phone number rings without answer, and we didn't know where to direct efforts to learn what sank the vessel. The Boathouse made headlines in July after an employee reportedly stabbed a large snake that had slithered nearby.

Caption corrected 9/3/12


For some reason there are certain buildings in this town that never survive in business. The building across from the Putt Putt on Rio is another one, how many places has it been?

I am not sure what it is, bad feng shui? Are they cursed? What? It will be interesting to see how these changes work out.

what about the spot across from the police station?

Hawes, you need to correct the caption in the Boathouse photo.

Beth there are also some homes/estates in this area that are also "tainted" even the real estate brokers don't know of those. One estate in Albemarle County within 5 years of ownership, the male head of household dies. The last two owners have been single women so the history has faded.

Restaurants are notorious for not operating for very long.

Location, Location, Location.

I was about to say, that Boathouse building has definitely been through a number of different businesses. I remember it was Pargo's, then it was Maverick, then it was something else, and now the latest business to close there was Boat House. Not a bad location, but things just don't seem to survive there.


Location is important for sure, but Pargo's was there for a long time - and quite successful. IIRC, Pargo's was founded by an executive who had broken away from another 'casual dining' (Chili's, Outback, TGIF, etc.) corporation. Pargo's was a smaller version of this; he only stopped doing that and divested when he had to as a non-compete condition of returning to another corporation.

I believe Maverick, Boathouse, etc, fail primarily because they are overpriced for the mass-production corporate style food they produce. I never ate at Maverick, but I can't imagine their steaks were much cheaper than the Aberdeen Barn, and I would be shocked to learn they were anywhere near as good. Outback is lousy - just what I'd expect for pretentious fast-food - but it is less expensive than the barn, and probably has, as a major chain, a lower basis and higher margin than one-off knockoffs like Maverick or the Boathouse Grill.

I'm entirely unsurprised to learn that Cheeseburger in Paradise succumbed...same a down economy, a premium for a burger?

There is a reason Chipotle and Whole Foods are always crowded when other restaurants and markets are empty. People will pay more for food that is good, local, and/or ethically raised. Why pay high prices for bad, unhealthy food? You can get that at a vending machine. Chipotle at Barracks uses pork from Polyface Farm. I don't even eat pork but I will go to Chipotle over other restaurants on principal. If you want to attract a high end crowd, you need to appeal to more than just their basest instincts.

I went to the Boathouse once. I looked at the menu posted outside, peeked inside, and decided that I had no interest in patronizing the place. Maverick's was, as another poster commented, just another Outback (albeit quieter and less crowded). Pargo's on the other hand, I miss. When it first opened the correlation between quality and price was too obvious, but once it got its act together it became very popular as Everybody's Second Choice. Everyone seemed to like, but not love, Pargo's.

Pargos is definitely missed.

At least the place beside Putt Putt is not a restaurant now, maybe it will do better selling lawn equipment.

Missed the story on the snake. Got a link?

The place by putt-putt kept changing because although the operator/owners remained the same, they never paid their taxes and had to shut down each business entity...much like the Arby's "Tea Party" Entrepreneur, they didn't seem to really understand how to run a business, despite their free-market ranting.

I remember it being Bonanza back in the late 70's or early 80's, one of the first buffet places I remember.

Outback Steakhouse eclipses out back snake house?

Ask any former employee or vendor and they will tell you why the place failed. It has nothing to do with the building, the previous ventures all had the same owners. It's the owners and their shifty business handling!

@non-resident, Cheeseburger in Paradise was renting from OSI, the parent company of Outback Steakhouse. When CIP and Outback both had lease renewals coming up at the same time, OSI decided not to renew the CIP lease and chose to move Outback to its own building instead. It had nothing to do with Cheeseburger's success as a business in the area.

Isn't a Plaza Azteca Mexican restaurant going into the Boat House location?