FOOD- THE DISH- New openings: Do good things come in threes?

In March, Andy McClure faced folks up in arms about a dress code he had implemented at his Corner restaurant, Jaberwoke, which re-opened as "three. a kitchen and lounge" five months later.

Last spring the Corner restaurant then known as Jaberwoke was the subject of a Hook cover story ["Dressing down: Was this bar speaking in code?" March 22], a distinction only Bodo's could previously claim ["Waiting for Bodo: Slow and savvy wins the race... if you ever finish," March 28, 2002]. 

In fact, Dish can think of only a few instances in recent years when a story about a restaurant graced the cover of any newspaper in town. A flowery literary homage to Will Richey at Revolutionary Soup (in another paper) comes to mind, as does a feature on restaurant veterans Tim Burgess and Vincent Derquenne– who brought Metropolitain and Bizou to the Downtown Mall. But it's a rare instance when a story about a restaurant rises to the level of real news. (Although one could argue that the 10-year wait for the Corner Bodo's amounted to a public crisis.)

However, dress codes banning various articles of clothing (baggy pants, big white t-shirts, certain kinds of hats– items generally associated with hip-hop fashion) at Jaberwoke and at the owner's two other restaurants, The Virginian and West Main, ignited a grease fire of controversy.

Local NAACP president Rick Turner called the dress code racist. "You really don't want black people in your bar," Turner told co-owner Andy McClure during a meeting McClure organized at Jaberwoke to address the controversy. Nearly 50 students showed up, mostly African Americans, to give McClure a piece of their minds. For his part, McClure declared he didn't have a "racist bone in his body" and offered to end the dress code. But the controversy seemed to assume a life of its own, one that McClure felt powerless to control.

"It seems like no matter what I do, I'm going to be attacked," he told the Hook. "It's really, really disconcerting."

Eight months later, McClure seems to have put the controversy behind him, helped in large part by a name change and a change of concept for the former Jaberwoke space. 

In July, another weekly reported that McClure was renovating the interior and calling the place 1517, but near the end of August, McClure and his partner/brother, Patrick, opened three. a kitchen and lounge (the weird typography is not a typo) in the Jaberwoke space. McClure says he chose the name "three" because it's his third restaurant.

Asked why they decided to change the name, McClure is quick to dispel rumors that it had anything to do with what happened at Jaberwoke.

"To even insinuate that three's opening or the Jaberwoke's closing had anything to do with the dress code is preposterous," he says. "In fact, Jaberwoke's sales actually went up after the issue went public. I'm only upset at the slander of my name."

As for three, McClure says they "wanted to bring a more metropolitan product to the less than metropolitan Corner area," and describes the menu as "American with old school twists like the hot dog, served with a knife and fork... and high end martinis for $7 to $9." Not surprisingly, McClure says, his customers have been older than he expected. 

So how's it been going since the change? 

"It's been fantastic, the food is excellent but not stuck up," says McClure, "and the customer response has been extremely positive. I have never had a restaurant grow so quickly."

Will there be a dress code at three. a kitchen and lounge? 

"Three does not have a dress code," McClure says.

New Arch's on Emmet

In 2005, Rob and Sandy Archer of Arch's Frozen Yogurt, with a long-time location on Ivy Road and another more recent one on the Corner, bought the Donut Connection at 1232 Emmet Street for $660,000. Since then, they've been working on plans to build Arch's most impressive location yet, an under-stated two-story modern affair fronting the street and with two outdoor eating balconies. The new building (they demolished the old one) will also have eco-friendly and energy efficient SIPS roof panels and a stainless-steel trellis for ivy to twine up, and will be painted tan and earthtone red– all courtesy BRW Architects, known for their renovations of Congregation Beth Israel, the Downtown Rec Center, and the Mall side of the Water Street parking garage. 

Although the Archers could not be reached by press time, store manager Jason Petty says the new store will most likely open in May or June of 2008, and will model itself more after the Corner location, which serves sandwiches, salads, and other lunch fare along with its frozen yogurt.

Crush, your friendly neighborhood wine shop

If all goes according to plan, it looks like a new wine shop will be opening up in Historic downtown Belmont this weekend. Paul Coleman, one of the partners who opened Orzo in the West Main Street Market, says he plans to open Crush in a small building across from Saxx Jaxx Club and La Taza (next door to an as-yet-unnamed new restaurant we reported on recently), with his wife, Nan, and his partner, Gregg Oxley. 

"We want to be a friendly neighborhood wine shop," says Coleman, "with a real emphasis on customer service." 

While there'll be no restaurant on-site, Coleman says there will be a wide selection of cheeses, breads, and other goodies patrons can enjoy with the wine selections. They'd also like to sell wine without all the pretension. 

"We'd really like to take the snobbishness out of the wine mystique," says Coleman, "and create a place where people feel comfortable checking out wines."

South River is for Virginia wine lovers

Congrats to the South River Restaurant and Wine Shop in Waynesboro for being named the "Virginia Wine Retailer of the Year" by the Virginia Wineries Association last month. Dan Myers and Bryson Posey, South River's wine specialists, accepted the award on behalf of the restaurant and its owner Linda Roland. 

Since last summer's passage of a new state law that prohibited Virginia wineries from self-distributing, operations like South River have become more important than ever to the state's wine industry.

According to Roland, South River sells over 80 Virginia wines from more than 35 wineries and holds wine dinners monthly at the restaurant.

Indeed, the Waynesboro Chamber of Commerce may want to give Roland an award too– for all the attention.

The design for the new Arch's on Emmet Street.