FOOD- DISH- No skids: Southern Culture closes

Yes, its truethe long-time West Main Street icon Southern Culture has been sold and closed.
Fifteen years ago, partners Tom Zipper Lippman and David Elkins opened the Cajun-style eatery on a very sleepy West Main in a very sleepy Charlottesville.

Along with its neighbors at the time, the Cotton Exchangeand Blue Ridge Brewing Company (now Starr Hill, which for years was run by William Faulkners grandsons, Paul and Bok Summers)– and later on, Continental Divide– Lippman and Elkins helped turn that strip of West Main into the center of Charlottesville nightlife.

Dish recalls the crowds undulating in and out of Blue Ridge, Southern, and Continental as if they were all one bar. Dish remembers the Elvis nights at Southern and its wonderfully relaxed dcor. The crowd would be three rows thick at the bar at Blue Ridge on UVA game days, and sometimes the Brewery's trout won-tons actually garnered as much attention as that soon-to-be famous fiddler hammering his violin in the front corner.

As for Southerns fabulous Sunday brunches, they were a great spot to suck down Bloody Marys and Mimosas while watching church let out across the street.

Although in recent years classic places like Southern have been lost in the stampede of new arrivals, its passing still feels like the end of an era. [The old fogie Hook editor recalls that similarly-motifed Tennessee Waltz over on Emmet shut its doors mere weeks after the opening of Southern Culture–editor.]

New owners Upstream Associates havent decided what Southern Culture will become, but spokesman Christian Kelly tells Dish, It will probably be a similar southern theme, but which part of the south we dont know yet.

Kelly, who just recently left his position as the Clifton Inns executive chef, says plans are still very broad in terms of deciding when to open, though he predicts sometime in the fall. In the meantime, Kelly and his partner, Peter Castiglione, are going to take their time cleaning and renovating, maybe even putting in a new bar. Until then, well have the chance to drive by and wax nostalgic about the golden days of West Main.

Of course, we cant forget that the Blue Bird Caf was part of those days, too. In fact, one of Blue Birds present owners, Brent Pye, tells Dish that theyve hired a new chef and general manger, Rod Lee, formerly of The Brick Cafin Scottsville, and a graduate of the prestigious Johnson & Wales Culinary School in Rhode Island.

We're very excited to have Rod on board, and he has a lot of work to do, says Pye. The Blue Bird is facing some very tough competition these days, and Rod has a lot of great ideas. Indeed, with so many restaurants in town now, its not enough anymore to be good; you gotta be great!

Nelson Round Up

A few more spots join the growing number of Nelson eateries dotting that beautiful landscape. On April 8, The Mark Addy Innstarted offering dinner again. New owners Leslie and Raf Tal plan to continue the tradition of fine dining with a new international menu, including French, Italian, and Mediterranean dishes.

Across from the Valley Green Shopping Center the new Grill 151 serves up breakfast all day, including owner Juan Delgados killer pancakes. They're also claiming their Angus burgers are the best burgers east of the Mississippi.

Finally, the Dogwood Caf is scheduled to open in the old Rockfish Valley Elementary and High School building in late May. Owners Kathy and Dennis Hart, who own the other Dogwood Caf in Amherst, plan to be serving up the same kind of comfort food that made the first incarnation so popular.

It will probably be of a similar southern theme, says one of the owners who bought Southern Culture recently, but which part of the south we dont know yet.