DISH- Box on, box off: Miyagi, noodles succeed Atomic Burrito

Co-owner Chas Webster and bartender Stewart Burns stand in front of the larger-than-life mural of the Karate Kid's Mr. Miyagi.

The brown paper covering the former Atomic Burrito location on Second Street for the past few months– you know, the stuff on which some trickster had written "Hooters - Coming Soon"– has finally been pulled down, revealing not jiggly young ladies, but rather wiggly little noodles.

The Box features Asian-inspired cuisine such as noodles and dumplings and exotic drinks like sake and watermelon juleps. 

For the 27-year-old founder, Chas Webster, this is either a lifelong dream or a nice complement to his other business managing two Los Angeles-based bands.

"I'm trying to find out what I like best," says Webster. "I liked Atomic a lot, enjoyed the music aspect, and always wanted to open a restaurant."

The art deco environment of Atomic has been given a full makeover, with much more sensible seating arrangements, a wall-size mural of Mr. Miyagi from The Karate Kid, and a giant gong behind the register, which Webster has suggested might come in handy for last call.

It's day two of the lunch business on Tuesday, February 26, and a steady stream of downtowners spill in from the light drizzling rain outside. Alice Kim has come in to pick up food for her chef at nearby Oxo restaurant. Back in the kitchen, real estate agent and former restaurateur Stu Rifkin is boiling noodles and turning shrimp skewers on the grill.

"This is exactly what downtown needs," says Rifkin. "It's healthy and fast."

Webster, who moved to Charlottesville a few years ago after a childhood in Chicago and Greene County, says the quiet opening was Friday. Today, he says he's "just working out the kinks."

Webster excuses himself after he serves up a free plate of panko-crusted onion rings with ginger ketchup. He says that he's on his way to a three-hour nap, his first sleep in about a day.

Lovely Rita, freezer maid

Though it seems a long way off amid the cold, dreary rains of February, soon the heat will rise again off the bricks of The Corner, and UVA students and townies will be seeking frigid refreshment. While there's plenty of cold beer to be had in that particular commercial district, some might seek to beat the heat without the booze.

That's where Rita's hopes to come in.

Adding one more franchise to a chain of dozens of shops up and down the east coast, Rita's offers a bevy of frozen treats including Italian ice, frozen custard, cream ice, gelato, and Blizzard-esque blended desserts.

Calls to Rita's PR were not returned by press time, but UVA sweet teeth can't help but hope the location adjacent to the College Inn will be opening in time for warm weather.