FOOD- THE DISH- In transit:Café opens, City Market tops $1 mil

The City Market in 2004, the year vendors sold $250,000 more in produce than the previous year.

When Dish popped into the Charlottesville Transit Center last week to check out the new Transit Café, which opened Monday, December 3, we can't say we were surprised to find caterer/restaurateur Christian Trendel behind the counter. Trendel, whose company Ciao! Catering has been serving up food at Pavilion events for some time, has turned up in the Dish on several occasions– most notably for reviving the Rivanna Grill on Route 29 North and for creating the Wile E. Coyote-inspired Acme Smokehouse and BBQ Co. in the same spot.

Now, in cooperation with the City, Trendel hopes to turn a stylish corner of the glass- and light-filled Transit Center into a little bistro serving soups, sandwiches, baked goodies, and coffees.

"This was something the City wanted to do to help support the Transit Station," Trendel says. "And I thought it could be a really nice place for a small café." 

Indeed, once Trendel gets tables and chairs– which were on the way as we were speaking– the space at the back of the station and a small outside area could easily become a relaxing spot to enjoy a coffee or a sandwich. While Trendel admits that opening in December probably doesn't indicate the most careful planning, he hopes a little coffee in Transit will catch on soon!

City Market sales top $1 million

Gross sales at the popular Charlottesville City Market on Water Street topped the $1 million mark this year, up from around $870,00 in 2006, according to a recent City economic report.

However, according to assistant market manager Kathy Koehler, those impressive figures have been par for the course over the last several years. In 1993, when the Market moved from the Downtown Mall to its Water Street location, gross sales were $193,262. Ten years later, that figure had more than doubled, to $407,000, and the following year, 2004, when the City decided to market the market, gross sales reached $666,000, more than $250,000 over the previous year. 

The homespun enterprise has been a major success (in fact, a recent $150,000 City-sponsored design competition to develop the Water Street parking lots was inspired, in large part, by a desire to give the popular market permanent digs)– so much so that another City Market– open 3-7pm on Wednesdays– was initiated this year in Meade Park. 

According to Koehler, between 50 and 100 vendors sell their goods during the season– everything from flowers and cheese to pork chops, homemade honey, and donuts. In fact, the City Market has been popular for so long that nobody seems to know when it started.

"There's an ongoing debate among the vendors on when the market started," says Koehler. "Some vendors who've been there for over 25 years says they weren't the first." 

Coffee to go: The Charlottesville Transit Center now has a fledgling café.