Business is good: new Mex, cheap sushi, and a Glass Haus

In the last few months, we haven't been able to turn a corner without finding a new eatery opening. Since August, we've counted 16 places that opened, recently opened, or are about to open, so it was no surprise when we walked into the former Fuel Co. restaurant/gas station on the corner of East Market and Avon Street to find a deli place called Subworks, and a fast-food type chicken place called Chester's, had already been operating for awhile.

Add to that Champion Brewing Company, which will be opening Downtown soon, and the places that will occupy the new Stonefield development, and… well, you get the picture.

So what is going on? Results of some kind of economic recovery?

"Business is good, and lots of people like being in the restaurant business," says realtor and restauranteur Stu Rifkin, though he thinks the area is pretty saturated with fine dining places. "Many more chains/franchises coming as well."

There is also some re-purposing going on.

Last Saturday night, October 13, was the last dance at the X Lounge, which brought fine dining and clubbing downtown to the Glass Building in 2006. Indeed, it wasn't uncommon to experience a big city-type urban vibe in the place, helped along by one of downtown's most edgy and elegantly designed interiors, plus a mixed crowed from all sides of the tracks. The place had been sputtering in the last several months, closing for lengths of time and switching to a private parties-only concept, but now it appears that partners J.F. Legault and François Bladt, along with chef Ian Boden of Staunton Grocery fame (and more recently the chef at Blue Light), have decided to create a whole new concept for the space. Glass Haus Kitchen, which will serve "inspired American Cuisine."

"We were looking to get back to our roots, which lie in chef-driven, customer-centric dining and hospitality experiences," says Legault in a statement. "We quickly picked up on Ian’s culinary passion. That provided the impetus for the new project."

“My goal with The Glass Haus Kitchen is to offer a great culinary experience in Charlottesville, just like I did in Staunton,” says Boden. "From Spring to Fall, I am confident that we can achieve a 90 percent local and regional food source.”

Look for the Glass Haus Kitchen to open near the end of October.

Over in Waynesboro, too, new places are opening. Recently, the River City welcomed Heritage on Main Restaurant and Sports Bar in the downtown area, a family-friendly, shake-your-fist at the television sports bar with an emphasis on creative burger items. 

"Toppings range from your tried and true cheddar and bacon, to fried pickles, onion straws, and teriyaki," says owner Mandisa Fullwood. "We'll also have turkey burgers, pork burgers, sweet potato, and even bean burgers." 

Salads, paninis, an extensive kids menu, potato skins, and some rich desserts will also adorn the menu.

"Heritage plans to show NFL, NHL, NBA, NCAA, FIFA, NASCAR and any other acronym for sportsman-like endeavors you can think up," says Fullwood.

Closer to home, El Tepeyac recently held its Gran Apertura on Greenbrier Drive, serving Mexican and Salvadorian cuisine. Just across the way, in the old Boathouse location, Virginia Beach-based Mexican chain Plaza Azteca is preparing to open. They have locations locations from North Carolina to Massachusetts, and opened one in Waynesboro not long ago. Typical chain Mex, but they do do something different: they make guacamole for you right at your table.

Downtown tip: TEN sushi just launched a happy hour menu. Decent prices at the normally pricey sushi joint on beers, cocktails, tempura, and sushi rolls from 5 to 6:30pm.

Finally, a shout out to locally-owned Bone Doctors' BBQ sauce, their Brazen Heat BBQ sauce received a seventh place finish at the 33rd Annual American Royal World Series of Barbecue in Kansas City, which included perfect scores from two of the five judges. Saucy!

–story last updated Tuesday, October 16 at 12:21pm with X Lounge/Glass Haus info


Went to Subworks the other day and had, officially, the worst sandwich of my life. Absolutely disgusting.

Subworks had a huge Romney sign out front the other day. They can count me out as a customer. Maybe the 1% can keep them afloat.

El Tepeyac on Greenbrier is absolutely fantastic, wow what a find!!

Try M&M restaurant at 917 Preston. Best kebabs in town. Not the dry crap you get at the other places. These are juicy!

Still praying for Kenney Burger to make a comeback in this area. And bring their special sauce with them! But Mr Kenney passed away recently, we'll probably never see one now.

One more to add to the list:

The X Lounge will be closing this Saturday to be replaced by an upscale restaurant, Glass House Kitchen.

Amazing to think Charlottesville can support another upscale restaurant downtown. I'm just waiting to see a list of restaurants closing. Tough business to make a profit.

Perhaps home builders should take note - no need for large kitchens, Americans are eating out.

@ Confused easily...if you think the Republican Party only represents 1% of the population; you're going to be really confused next month. BTW, thanks for not vandalizing the sign.

Happy about plaza aztec --the one in Short Pump is very tasty!