FOOD- DISH- Ciao tutti!: Area welcomes <i>beaucoup</i> additions
In most restaurants, the kitchen is the last place the owners want patrons to see. What goes on back there is generally hidden from view, the swinging doors a veil between the managed serenity of the floor and the controled chaos of the prep area.
For Lisa Moses, who opened Ciao Station about a month ago in the Woodbrook Shopping Center behind Kohr Brothers, the kitchen is the first place she wants customers to see.
"People are floored by the kitchen," she says. "It's very colorful, and it's spotless. People can't believe I cook in it."
Apparently, what comes out of the kitchen isn't bad either.
"Originally, I just wanted to do dinner carryout," says Moses, "but then I added a few tables and chairs... and now suddenly my lunch business is booming."
The carryout dinner idea, says Moses, was a way to serve a need and save a passion.
"I loved the restaurant business, but hated the hours," says the former Blue Bird Café chef. "Now I can just spend the day cooking and hand meals off to people in the afternoon." In addition, she hopes the idea will appeal to Charlottesvillians too tired or too busy to cook dinner.
For now, though, Moses has hungry lunch-goers to take care of. And that she does. In addition to a pork loin barbecue, gourmet turkey sub with warm brie and cranberry mayo, and her signature chicken cream cheese crepes, she offers up a heapin' helpin' of enthusiasm.
"I wanted it to be a fun, exciting atmosphere in here," she says. "My kitchen is so gorgeous! I'm so proud of it!"
Happy Days at Henry's lounge
Henry's on the Downtown Mall just opened a non-smoking "'50s-style" lounge in the former Lush Life space on Water Street. According to co-owner Debbie Hackett, she and her husband, Henry, started working on the space in June and finally opened on Monday, September 4.
"It's just been word-of-mouth so far," says Hackett, "but we've been fairly busy because of regulars who knew about it."
The new addition appears to be a sign that Henry's has exorcised the "cursed space" demon from its subterranean location under the Milgraum building, which, over the years has been home to The Pasta House, Brazil-Brazil, Lafayette, The Mogul, and most recently, Immigrant Soul. Perhaps it's the Hacketts' talent for reincarnation. They've owned three Henry's over the years, including one on the Mall in the early '80s and one on Fifth Street.
Or it could be the Hacketts' long reputation for serving up from-scratch Virginia homing-cooking, that kind of old fashioned comfort food– meatloaf, chipped beef, chili, macaroni and cheese, chicken-noodle soup– that seems to outlast all culinary trends.
Minor's in Moon spot
Yet another new "old fashioned" lunch and dinner spot has sprouted up in Scottsville. Back in May, Minor's Diner took over the old China Moon spot on Valley Street. According to Morgan Minor, who owns the place with her husband, Clifton, not a whole lot of planning went into the idea. "We came across an ad in the paper for the space and just decided to do it," she says.
However, they knew exactly what they wanted it to be.
"My husband wanted to take it back to the old diner," says Minor, "homemade chicken salad, burgers... good food at a good price."
So far, business has been good as the Minors try to make their name on Valley Street a landmark. Apparently, if they don't, it won't be for lack of hard work.
"We've had a good response," says Minor, "and I think that's because my husband is there every single day... he's very hands-on."
Indeed, a fine quality– and we're sure the ladies will agree– in both a businessman and a husband!
According to company spokesperson Katherine Smith, the new Chipolte's going up in front of Harris Teeter in Barracks Road Shopping Center should be open by mid-October– if the construction goes smoothly, that is.
The taco and burrito chain, a kind of hip Taco Bell, boasts that it uses naturally raised meats, free-range Bell & Evans chickens, and even incorporates some green architecture in its store designs.
Smith says the company also takes pride in being a fun and responsible member of the community, so be on the lookout for fundraisers and special events– even a possible free taco day-– as the opening approaches.
X Lounge a sell-out?
Dish hears that a certain rock promoter is buying the X-Lounge, the restaurant/bar/lounge across the tracks in the Glass Building, only a few months after the oh-so-trendy spot made its debut. Stay tuned...
Ciao Station in the Woodbrook Shopping Center offers carryout dinners for the weary and gourmet lunch for the famished.
PHOTO BY DAVE MCNAIR