FOOD- THE DISH- Cawffee tawk: So long Java, hello Joe
Following up on rumors that the Downtown and Ivy Road Java Java coffee houses were closing, Dish decided to give downtown owner/manager Ervin Santiago a call. In 2007, Santiago cut a local franchising deal of sorts with Ivy location owner and former McIntire School of Commerce business prof John Leschke after the space downtown next to the Nook was lavishly renovated. So what was going on?
"Hello, this is Masood," a man said after we'd asked to speak to the owner.
"I bought the Java Java downtown in the beginning of February," Masood Ayat explained.
And the Ivy Road location?
"Yes, it is closed; it was something they just did overnight," said Ayat. "They sold it to Shenandoah Joe."
This was getting interesting. Just a few weeks ago Leschke was identified and quoted as the co-owner of the Downtown Java Java in a C-Ville Weekly story about the Java Java rumors.
The Hook's attempts to reach Leschke were unsuccessful, as the phone at the Ivy location was out of service.
The Iranian-born Ayat explained that he owned an Italian restaurant in Virginia Beach for 21 years before moving here three years ago to be with his daughter and her children. "I wanted to do something that didn't have anything to do with food," admits Ayat, "but I couldn't really find anything. And this opportunity came up."
Ayat says he plans to modify the name, calling it Java Java Café, because he eventually wants to start serving sandwiches, soups, and salads.
Ayat admits it hasn't been an ideal time to step in as an owner with a $7.5 million renovation of the brick surface underway.
"It's hurt us a little bit, and the weather has been tough this winter." But he's optimistic about the project and hopes to have his outdoor café space back come spring. "The workers are moving very fast," he says.
As for Shenandoah Joe owner Dave Fafara, he was definitely caught off guard when we called. "Part true," he said when we asked if he'd bought the Ivy Road Java Java. "Yeah, we did, but things are not finalized yet."
"So you are buying it?"
"The chances are high that we will be buying it, yes."
Resigned to the fact that the word was out, Fafara revealed that the Ivy Road Java Java should be open under the Shenandoah Joe name in three weeks if everything goes according to plan. He also says "things will be a little different" over there, with an emphasis on handcrafted estate coffees from personal farms. After roasting coffee since 1995, Fafara opened his existing café location on Preston Avenue in May 2007.
Man, even Dish has trouble keeping track of the restaurant scene these days. But we're glad the Java Java case is solved. And make sure you stop in and give Masood a warm welcome!
Dish recently walked the Saunders-Monticello Trail, a two-mile bike and pedestrian trail that slowly winds its way up the south-side of Route 53 all the way to Monticello's new architectural wonder–a 42,000 square-foot, $43 million "green" visitor's center. Dish has been a fan of the trail for a long time, what with its beautiful wooden bridges and kindly graded slope, but the addition of the visitor's center has added something really special to the journey. Where else can you take a beautiful two-mile hike in the mountains that ends with a cappuccino made with Escalara espresso and a mouth-watering raspberry shortbread bar, enjoyed in the almost zen-garden-like space that is Monticello's new visitors center? We almost feel reluctant to mention it, as we'd like to keep this secret foodie outing to ourselves.
Faulkner comes to town
On February 27, the Albemarle Charlottesville Historical Society will host the first installment of its "An Evening with...!" fundraiser series with a visit from novelist and one-time writer-in-residence at UVA William Faulkner. Along with a speech by Mr. Faulkner (a re-enactor, of course), there will be lectures by Faulknerian experts, as well as elegant hors d'oeuvres and "spirits." According to organizer Clara Belle Wheeler, it's going to be a "swishy" event. Tickets are $30 each, or $50 for a pair, and must be purchased in advance. Visit the Society's website or call 296-1492 or stop by 200 Second St. NE downtown to purchase your tickets. The event starts at 7pm.