Fry's Spring Service Station to get tasty tune-up

dish-frysspringstation0903The historic Fry's Spring Service Station is set to become a gourmet pizza restaurant in March.

After a 70-year run servicing cars, the historic Fry’s Spring Service Station is gearing up to begin a new era servicing area foodies. Instead of lube jobs, tire rotations, and tune-ups, the new service menu will include gourmet pizzas, Panini, Italian wines, and al fresco dining on the corner of Jefferson Park and Maury Avenues.

Last April, investors Terry Hinderman and PK Kamath bought the old station from the Houchens family, who ran the place for more that 40 years, for $800,000. They had plans to restore the circa-1931 building and develop the property, which involved getting design plans approved for one of the city’s most historic properties. In 2008, the Fry’s Spring Service Station was one of only eight Charlottesville buildings added to the Individually Protected Properties list, and its Jeffersonesque Spanish/colonial exterior and Art Deco bathrooms had already landed it on the state and national historic registers.

"We’ve spent two years navigating through the City historic review board, rezoning, and City site plan approval sign off,” says Hinderman. "No easy task."

And that doesn’t include the actual work itself.

"It’s had one owner since the 1930’s, so not a lot has been done to the building," says Hinderman.

So far, the roof has been restored, the exterior painted, the bricks re-pointed, and the site will soon have new sidewalks and an outdoor brick patio. Hinderman also says the original outdoor lighting will be brought back. Inside, a new heating and cooling system is being installed, and outside new sewer and water pipes are being brought into the building. Upon its closure last February, the old building was the subject of a Hook slideshow.

"We’re also working with the new tenant to create a truly unique atmosphere which incorporates elements of the old station," says Hinderman. For instance, the two service bay doors of the old station have been replaced with tall glass doors that retract and look like service bay doors.

The new tenants, Downtown Grille owner Robert Sawrey and his restaurant group partner Steve Parry, plan to operate under the name Fry’s Spring Station. They considered several others names, says Sawrey, but finally realized that none could compete with the original.

Earlier last year, Sawrey says they had no plans to open another restaurant, but says they were slowly drawn to the project by the commitment Hinderman and Kamath showed toward restoration and to the business potential of a restaurant in that part of town. Ironically, after being a destination for cars for so many years, Sawrey hopes the new restaurant will become a destination for the growing number of neighborhood pedestrians. Likewise, Hinderman says they were impressed with Sawrey and Parry’s commitment, mentioning that the duo have made a “significant investment” in the interior design.

They settled on the pizza restaurant concept, Sawrey mentions, based on the success of Waterstone in Lynchburg and Sette in Richmond, two gourmet pizza restaurants his restaurant group owns (they also own Shoemakers American Grill in Lynchburg), which he says are always busy. Sawrey hopes to bring that same kind of atmosphere to the neighborhood.

As Sawrey explains,  the restaurant will feature an open kitchen with a brick oven big enough to cook 22 pizzas at a time, plus a small bar area (they don’t want it to become a late-night scene) and seating for 100. Outside, there will be another 45 seats both under the elaborate porte-cochšre in front and along Maury, which will feature heat lamps for year-round outdoor dining. Of course, the Art Deco bathroom will be restored, and Sawrey says the floor is going to be laid with reclaimed heartwood pine from Mountain Lumber.

In addition to pizzas and paninis, there will be soups, salads, various specials, brew pub beer, and a selection of Italian wines. Heading up the effort will be Sawrey’s Downtown Grille sous chef Barry Binney and his Brazilian-born assistant Caroline Oliveira.

“I just want it to be a great place to hang out,” says Oliveira. “I’m very excited about the challenge.”

If all goes according to plan, Sawrey says Fry’s Spring Station should be open in March.


Did I get this right ? The review board had to OK the Bathrooms? Sounds like a lot of "crap" to go through to sell overpriced beer and pizza !

Parking? Cleanup of god-only-knows what toxic waste 70 years of car repairs leaves behind? I'll get my $7 slice elsewhere.

$800K plus renovations= a pretty hefty monthly nut for rent...

They'll be selling lots of pizza to pay for that, but God bless them..

FSresident needs to get of town more often I think.

comment Don't you think we've seen enough of those great Columns all over town. There's more to design than "COLUMNS".Just take a look at the other world outside of C-ville!

"and al fresco dining on the corner of Jefferson Park and Maury Avenues." And try to have a conversation over the relentless din of traffic at the busiest intersection in that part of town while enjoying your $7 slice!

hi crozet person - maybe you should share that thought with all the builders out there in crozetland. hate to tell you this but columns are very in right now - whether they're indoors or outdoors - in cville or outside of cville. i simply meant the location of this bldg and it's architecture blend in nicely with uva. i think students and their parents will be drawn to it. oh yeah, i've got those great columns on my house too - not everybody wants to live in a ranch house.

quote: "....seating for 100. Outside, there will be another 45 seats both under the elaborate porte-cochšre in front and along Maury...."

A total capacity of 145. This should easily generate a minimum of 50 to a maximum of 100 cars on a busy night. So... where's the parking?

If they gave $800,000 for that, I have seven acres I'll let go for $2,000,000. What a bargain.

Hey gasoline, maybe you should learn to use google, there are even references to Fry Springs being an environmental hazard at in meeting minutes and there is one pdf I found from Environmental Remediation Contractors LLC giving a half a million dollar estimate to fix everything at a Charlottesville Virginia former service station being retrofitted to a restaurant during 2010. Could that be anywhere else? Maybe, but I think they are screwed.

This restaurant won't open in March, as the EPA and Thos. Jefferson Health District are now alerted to the fact that the interior, and the underground, need to be remediated for lead, mercury, arsenic, benzene, and all manner of other heavy metals that leach from underground storage tanks and using the facility as an industrial waste area for the past 70 years. That $800K price tag just doubled or tripled.

But hey, there's a cheap restaurant, which includes parking, available, cheap, across the street.

mike: dude, you should google before you comment. you are obviously clueless about lead and, no doubt, the other chemicals/metals. best wishes

I really miss the Houchens -- they were such a fixture of good-people-ness in our neighborhood. No doubt any gas/service station that gets converted to a food prep business is going to have its share of issues re contamination to deal with, and those issues are far more serious than just leaded paint (which most of us living in Cville's older houses have dealt with on our own). Hope the new guys get it right. I do wonder about the choice of an upscale pizza/panini joint: this neighborhood is more familiar with old fashioned and humble offerings, like Wayside and Guad and Thai 99 and Yuan Ho and Anna's and Durty Nelly's and Hoos Brew. Arirang was a step in the more upscale direction, and like its predecessor Ludwig's, just couldn't command the local market of college kids and working families with young kids and retirees -- in Fry's Spring, we are not the hip, moneyed Belmont crowd. The college athletes who frequent Anna's and Yuan Ho and Subway at 7-Day Jr., for e.g., are thinking of maximum caloric intake per dollar, and are not likely to go chi chi when starving after a hard practice session. It will also be interesting to see how the new place will compete as a bar with that classic bargain, Durty Nelly's. And parking will be uniquely desperate -- there is no lawful parking on Foontain, the few spaces on Maury belong to the businesses they front, and the spaces down JPA toward UVa or along JPA Extended are taken up by residents who have only on-street parking options. As for dining al fresco, not only is there the noise from the JPA/Maury/Fontaine intersection, but eventually that old rickety bridge across the RR tracks will get demolished and rebuilt, which will be quite the local disturbance. A quite evening on that patio of Mas this will not be. But as long as the building stays up, I'm happy even if the place turns into a florists. What I'd really like to see, though, is decent Barbeque on this end of town.

LOL @ Mike "it’s funny to me that someone would move to Crozet from a god forsaken hell-hole like Buffalo and then whine about the place he has helped to wreck by moving to." Yeah Mike, but they keep coming and crying, moving and wrecking, and building box after faceless box in the fields, must be the upscale library or the ambience at Crozet Pizza. Maybe it's the selection at IGA, Could it be that 18 hole golf course on the farm? Maybe it's the 7 coffee joints. Is the Olive Garden really going to kick Jerry and the gals out of Sal's? Pass the breadstix please, while we pray. Oh well, up on the hill Ann Malleck will save us all from ourselves, as we give Freetown away to nonexistent industry and destroy what little irrelevant history remains in my town. Crozet used to be a pretty cool place to live. Now, not so much. It probably doesn't matter anyway. Gentrification rules the day. and we are just old & in the way.

Wow, that's a lot of hate on a place that hasn't even opened yet. Your lives must be boring.
Tim K: Why do you keep mentioning $7 slices? I don't believe anyone has released a menu or prices yet. You're not only incorrect, you sound like an braying jackass.

disgusted and disgusting: Yeah, because they never check for that stuff before they let a restaurant open. Perhaps you're just upset that a more upscale restauranr is going in and people won't have to eat at your "cheap" i.e. inferior place across the street?

Zinc seems to do fine as a restaurant in a former service station.

i'mn surprise they didnt bulldoze it.......seem like thats what this backward, still stuck in the war (civil), town does to its landmarks.

Paul from Paul's rental properties had the same idea years ago. His concept worked great. It was called Paul's Pizza. For many years they served the area a combination of pizza/Italian food, with beer and wine. Noting to fancy. He was located across the road from Fry Spring.
I am glad to see them putting sidewalks in. When Fry Spring was there, no boundaries were set. The guys were always busy and when a car was finished, it might be left blocking a walk way until the owner picked it up.
Thanks again for the investment in the neighborhood, and good luck.

Boon1980- This whole town is a "LANDMARK" its the Jeffersonian way! Tim k THE TOXIC WASTE is what makes the pizza worth $7. Along with the historically correct bathrooms . One more thing Boon1980 I think some people in c-ville think the war is still going on.But this time their fighting any business that wants to come hear !

Tim, people sit on the busy streets of Paris, Rome, London, and New York all the time.

Comment I don't live in a ranch house but I've seen them with columns around this town .As for being "in" that's not what I've noticed in other parts of the country . The only reason that there "in" in c-ville is because that all the powers that be will give their permission for .

i think it's a great idea and i'll be waiting in line! we grew up here and remember very well when it was a working garage - we lived out off JPA in the early 70's. always thought it was an awesome place - how many old garages have you seen with those great columns? TJ would be proud - it fits in with the UVA area!

No parking, overspent on the building, a fortune to renovate, they'll be out of business in under a year. Just the parking situation is enough to put the final nail in the coffin. PASS

This is actually a great location for this type of restaurant. I just hope they don't put the pizza parlor, around the corner on Maury, out of business. The old Schnitzelhouse Restaurant is up for auction--building and all, the most recent owners couldn't make a go with Korean cuisine ,but heard it wasn't anything to write home about. If the food is good, I'll bet this becomes a neighborhood gathering spot,and, is a huge success.

crozet person - and your occupation is what?

Parking will be an issue, but it usually is at most restaurants downtown, or in any city for that matter. I am glad that they are keeping the original building intact and restoring its art deco charm. So many of the buildings on that street are hideous. So many of the newer houses in the Fry Springs area are hideous and shame on those who let builders throw up ugly cheaply constructed brick ranches in between arts and crafts cottages. The station will probably be a nice improvement over Anna's pizza which is revolting and is in desperate need of a chef who knows how to cook pizza.

BTW, "Crozetite" needs to learn how to spell and take a few lessons in classic Greek architecture. Maybe you should step out of Crozet, visit Paris and Rome, and while you are at it, dine at an outdoor cafe with historical architecture.

Comment I'm the know-er of all things that are correct and true ! And You? In reality I'm a traveling bible salesman.

crozet person - realtor (in reality) who spends a lot of time listening to what people do and don't like and who has an appreciation for history and architecture. i think the neighborhood will benefit from the restoration of the building no matter the use it's put to. a good restaurant/gathering spot is an added plus! all they need to do is name it "Anywhere" or "I Don't Care" and my husband will be happy.

It's funny to me that someone would move to Crozet from a god forsaken hell-hole like Buffalo and then whine about the place he has helped to wreck by moving to. Probably lives in one of those ugly new boxes in a cow field and thinks every one else ought to have the same low-brow tastes. Maybe the joked about Olive Garden will go into Crozet someday to make him happy.

I'm glad we have at least one example of sensible preservation in the JPA/Fry Springs area. A lot of beautiful architecture has been lost there because UVA never took the responsibility for housing its exploding student population.

Yeah, thank god all of those agencies have full time blog reading staff to keep on top of emergencies like that, especially since the fist thing most people do when they go to a restaurant is to snack on the paint on the walls.

gas-o-line, I'm hopelessly ignorant, probably the lead that's on walls all over Charlottesville whut's done it to me. Lead from renovation/demolition that's dumped in poorly designed landfills is a potential problem for nearby groundwater, as would be lead from fuel in leaking gas storage tanks if those were leaking during the period when lead was in gasoline. Tell me though, how any of that would affect diners in a newly renovated building which draws from city water supplies. Will that heavy metal be rising up from the soil to snatch away the unsuspecting poltergeist style?