FOOD- THE DISH- OXO auctioned off: A sign of things to come?

Only five people showed up for the public auction held last week to sell off OXO Restaurant's assets, and only two made bids. In the end, the building's owner, Allan Cadgene, got it all for $3,000.

OXO's Restaurant's furniture, office supplies, kitchen equipment and other assets were auctioned off last week, going for about as much as you might pay for a used car or a new leather sofa. A lawyer representing Allan Cadgene, the downtown developer who owns the building on Water Street and was OXO's landlord, opened the bidding at $1000. Music titan Coran Capshaw's restaurant group manager, Micheal Keaveny, bid $2,000, then Cadgene's lawyer bid $3,000. Going once, going twice (Hot Cake's Keith Rosenfeld was there, as was Henry Hackett from Henry's Restaurant, and Tyler Teass from l'étoile, but they remained silent)...sold to Cadgene for $3,000!

The list included thousands of dollars' worth of equipment– four gas stoves, refrigerators, an espresso machine, two computers, cash registers, cooking equipment, stereos, and nearly 140 pieces of furniture, to name just a few of the items.

In fact, we were tempted to bid ourselves. But according to Hackett, we would have lost.

"I've seen this before," he said after the auction. "There was no use bidding."

Indeed, as we've previously reported, the public auction was a way for OXO's owners, Alice Kim and John Haywood, to deal with their outstanding debt. According to Hackett, Cadgene's lawyer was ready to up the bid after any others to make sure the equipment stayed in his building. Although the price sounds cheap, Hackett says it would be too problematic and expensive to haul the stuff out of there– and used restaurant equipment "only brings about 10 cents on the dollar."

Since Cadgene owns the building and most likely plans to sell the restaurant as a turn-key operation, he could afford to bid higher than the others. Basically, Cadgene got a ready-to-go restaurant for $3,000, which he can likely turn around and sell for many times that. One imagines that this will take care of any money Kim and Haywood might owe.

"Everybody thinks you get rich in the restaurant business, but you don't," says Hot Cake's Rosenfeld, who was there hoping to score some catering equipment. "It's often more a labor of love and a way to have a job that let's you stay in Charlottesville."

However, according to 33-year Charlottesville resident Rosenfeld, its become a tougher playing field.

"We used to have very few good restaurants," he says. "... but now we have many, plus tons of chains.  In my opinion, Charlottesville has been over-restauranted for some time and I'm afraid we may see more of these auctions before the economy turns around."

Cadgene's lawyer, Michael Derdeyn, said he was unable to discuss his client's plan for OXO, but promised to pass along our inquiry. In the meantime, it's safe to say the restaurant space on Water Street, complete with any necessary equipment, will soon be up for sale.

Some folks were claiming that Capshaw was interested, which might explain Keaveny's bid. He could have obviously outbid Cadgene's lawyer, but then Capshaw might have had to remove all the equipment before working out a sale/lease agreement with Cadgene. The single bid, we imagined, was a little good-natured ribbing between the two businessmen. After all, even the wealthy music mogul wouldn't want to see Cadgene getting too good a deal.

But that's just a fiction, according to Keaveny.

"I was actually bidding for Hank, my repair man who showed up late," he claims. "He buys equipment, repairs it, and resells it for profit. He gives me very good deals for used equipment."

Mountfair Vineyards opens

There's a new winery in town... Mountfair Vineyards. And it appears that its owners, Chris Yordy and Fritz Repich, are dreamers.

"We had the land and we had the dream – we didn't have the bank account to match our enthusiasm. So, we started slowly, educated ourselves, and used our sweat equity to move us forward" says Yordy.

The result, thanks to a little help from local wine guru Brad McCarthy– three newly released red wines and a small  tasting room at the foot of the Blue Ridge near White Hall.

Tastings and tours are held on Sundays (12-5) or by appointment. Phone: 434.823.7605. The tasting room is located four miles north of White Hall on Fox Mountain Road, just off Brown's Gap Turnpike. Website:

 Nights of music at La Taza

Last summer's spat between some Downtown Belmont residents and area eateries over allegedly noisy outdoor music seems to have blown over, as La Taza announced a "Night of Music" recently with a DJ spinning records next door at Saxx Jazz Club until 1am. Given the fact that some Belmont residents have said they've already got a problem with Friday After Five shows at the Pavilion being too noisy, this might have seemed like a recipe for disaster.

In March, the City passed a new ordinance that limits sound levels to 75 db(A) when measured outside a restaurant after 11pm.

However, according to La Taza owner Melissa Easter, the music on La Taza's patio was acoustic, low key, and stopped at 9pm. And those promoting the Saxx event say the sound outside the venue was kept at an acceptable level.

"It was really fun... patio full, good music," says Easter. " The music at Saxx wasn't really advertised, but everyone that was there had a good time... to my knowledge, there were no complaints." 

"I haven't heard anything negative since the issue last year," says realtor and Belmont resident John Sweet.  " The Easters and Ryal Thomas [of Saxx Jazz Club] were very responsive and have made big changes to what they allow."

Indeed, a music-infused fundraising event at La Taza last summer caused some problems, but this year the same fundraising event– to benefit Nuestros Ahijados (The God's Child Project), an organization headed by photographer David Kalergis that assists poverty-stricken children, to be held Saturday, July 19– promises to be much more noise conscious.

"It was just recently brought to my attention that during the last event...a noise complaint was filed," writes Kalergis in an email to the Belmont Neighborhood Association. "... this year's fundraiser will be very toned down from last year. We plan on starting off the event around 2 pm and ending promptly at 10pm. We will have our sound levels at appropriate DB's, and hope to keep everything within compliance of being respectful to the neighborhood."

According to Kalergis, there will be live music, food provided by nearby Belmont BBQ, and all proceeds will be split 50-50 to aid the God's Child Project and a environmentally friendly solar coffee farm in Guatemala. For more information about the event you can contact Kalergis at or 434-409-6521.

All this food news was first reported online. Check it out at