FOOD- THE DISH- Orbit's replacement: Corner hot spot reaches new 'Heights'

Boylan Height owners Andrew Watson and JR Hadley have finally revived the old Orbits space, and just might revive the local music scene as well.

After four months of waiting through construction, "opening soon" signs, and the sad sight of the garage doors down on the once-great Orbit Billiards, Corner aficionados can be cheered by the migration of lunch and nighttime crowds back up University Avenue with the opening of Boylan Heights, a gourmet burger bar.

The brain-child of Mellow Mushroom's Andrew Watson, JR Hadley, and Toad's Place's John Adamson, Boylan Heights– named for the 1987 album by the Carolina-based Connells– is more than just an alternative to the Gus Burger. Replacing a long-standing Corner hotspot, BH has quite a bit to live up to– no problem for the burger joint, as the bar has been hopping non-stop since its opening last Wednesday, August 27.

"We're hoping to live up to what Orbit did for the past eleven years– it was the most successful bar on the Corner," Hadley says. "It's flattering to be thought of as ‘the new Orbit.' Over the weekend, we set capacity records at Mellow and surpassed them here."

BH offers Corner-goers a new twist on the restaurant/bar double so prevalent in Charlottesville: a boarding school theme. With servers and bartenders donning school-girl-and-boy duds and a Scantron sheet menu (evoking fond memories of #2 pencils and standardized testing), BH gives off a vibe that distances it from memories of its predecessor.

"We love it– no one on the Corner has a theme," Hadley says. "By default, we're going to be a college bar, but we want to create something unique."

With a non-smoking dining room downstairs and a "romp room" upstairs, complete with projector, stage, lounge, pool tables, thirteen flat-screen, high-def TVs, and shuffle board, BH has certainly mastered the art of one-stop-shopping.

Throw in a late-night menu, and there's no reason the bar won't continue to break capacity records. The menu– full of create-your-own burgers and four house recipes– includes locally-raised beef from the Organic Butcher in the West Main Market, buns from Albemarle Baking Company, and a prize-winning veggie burger recipe from a Virginia chef.

And as if gourmet burgers weren't enough to satisfy you, the potential music venue could. With the upstairs stage and lounge, BH has already booked several bands for the middle of September, including The Morning Pages from New York and Central Virginia's William Walter & Co.

Hadley also loves BH's location farther up University Avenue.

"We have houses and apartments right down the street– that's not something you get with other towns, says Hadley. "Elliewood was a '90s spot– this decade, the Corner's migration has moved up here."

Despite a swinging weekend, BH's opening was marred by the hospitalization of a homeless man in front of their doors. Around 1:15 am Sunday morning, August 31, a homeless man was escorted out of the bar for causing disturbances with customers, and allegedly threatening to kill a bouncer. After disappearing for a few minutes while police were being called, the man returned with a broken bottle and allegedly attempted to stab a passer-by. A friend of the bouncer's tackled the man from behind and threw him to the ground, causing the homeless man to be hospitalized.

"I feel awful that someone did get hurt," Hadley says. "It's horrible for our opening weekend, but we'll do everything to protect the people in our restaurant. Unfortunately, the man was here, and it happened in front of BH, but it didn't have anything to do with our employees."

Weekend woes aside, the future for BH looks crowded, if the past few nights on the Corner have anything to do with it.

City Market goes to UVA

In why-didn't-anybody-think-of-that-before news, vendors from Charlottesville's City Market set up shop on Grounds at UVA on Monday, September 1, introducing students to the locally grown produce that Saturday market goers have enjoyed for years. The event was organized by members of the Student Council's Environmental Sustainability Committee, formed just last year to help guide the University's sustainability efforts. Remarkably, many of the students who visited had never even heard of the City Market (Just in case you thought students at UVA were less insulated from life in Charlottesville), according to vendor Wendy Harrison of Red Hill Farm. And that was something organizers hoped to change.

"If nothing else," says Committee chair Ben Chrisinger, who declared the event a success, "we certainly got the word out about the [City] Market on Saturday mornings."

So might a regular Monday Grounds Market be in our future?

"Everyone was asking," says Chrisinger. "So we're definitely thinking about trying to do another event similar to Monday's."

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