Grand opening for gourmet burger joint

Boylan Height owners Andrew Watson and JR Hadley have finally revived the old Orbits space, and just might revive the local music scene as well.
PHOTO BY WILL WALKER

After four months of waiting through construction, "opening soon" signs, and the sad sight of the garage doors down on the once-great Orbit Billiards, Corner aficionados can be cheered by the migration of lunch and nighttime crowds back up University Avenue with the opening of Boylan Heights, a gourmet burger bar.

The brain-child of Mellow Mushroom's Andrew Watson, JR Hadley, and Toad's Place's John Adamson, Boylan Heights– named for the 1987 Connell's album– is more than just an alternative to the Gus Burger. Replacing a long-standing Corner hotspot, BH has quite a bit to live up to– no problem for the burger joint, as the bar has been hopping non-stop since its opening last Wednesday, August 27.

"We're hoping to live up to what Orbit did for the past eleven years– it was the most successful bar on the Corner," Hadley says. "It's flattering to be thought of as 'the new Orbit'. Over the weekend, we set capacity records at Mellow and surpassed them here."

BH offers Corner-goers a new twist on the restaurant/bar double so prevalent in Charlottesville: a boarding school theme. With servers and bartenders donning school-girl-and-boy duds and a Scantron sheet menu (fond memories of high school testing abound), BH gives off a vibe that distances it from memories of Orbits.

"We love it– no one on the Corner has a theme," Hadley says. "By default, we're going to be a college bar, but we want to create something unique."

With a non-smoking dining room downstairs and a "romp room" upstairs, complete with projector, stage, lounge, pool tables, thirteen flat screen, high-def TVs, and shuffle board, BH has certainly mastered the art of one-stop-shopping. Throw in a late-night menu, and there's no reason the bar won't continue to break capacity records. The menu– full of create-your-own burgers and four house recipes– includes locally-raised beef from the Organic Butcher in the West Main Market, buns from Albemarle Baking Company, and a prize-winning veggie burger recipe from a Virginia-based chef.

And as if gourmet burgers weren't enough to satisfy you, the potential music venue could. With the upstairs stage and lounge, BH has already booked several bands for the middle of September, including The Morning Pages from New York and central Virginia's William Walter & Co.

"Elliewood was a 90s spot– this decade the Corner's migration has moved up here," Hadley says of BH's location farther up University Avenue. "We have houses and apartments right down the street– that's not something you get with other towns."

Despite a swinging weekend, BH's opening was marred by the hospitalization of a homeless man in front of their doors. Around 1:15 am Sunday morning, a homeless man was escorted out of the bar for causing disturbances with customers, and threatened to kill a bouncer. After disappearing for a few minutes while police were being called, the man returned with a broken bottle and attempted to stab a passer-by. A friend of the bouncer's tackled the man from behind and threw him to the ground, causing the homeless man to be hospitalized.

"I feel awful that someone did get hurt," Hadley says. "It's horrible for our opening weekend, but we'll do everything to protect the people in our restaurant. Unfortunately, the man was here and it happened in front of BH, but it didn't have anything to do with our employees."

Weekend woes aside, the future for BH looks crowded, if the past few nights on the Corner have anything to do with it.

1 comment

sstopped here and got a loaded burger last thrusday it was one of the best I have ever had. Got a refreshing club soda over ice with a lime slice just the thing to cool down with in C'ville in August. Will be returning here again for sure great vibe here