FOOD- THE DISH- Fuel Co. facelift: meanwhile, Chick's roost and Feast! pops!

Brace yourself, fancy gourmet gas station lovers: Fuel Co.'s bistro and café will be closed for renovations the week of November 12-19. 

 "The tradition of local food with a gourmet twist and the sleek look of Fuel Co. will remain, but we're making some adjustments to the space," says owner, vintner, and philathropist Patricia Kluge in a prepared statement. "Instead of painting and working small projects around meal times, we thought it best to close so that the dining experience is not disrupted." 

The "Grand Re-Opening" is set for Friday, November 24, but the Bistro will re-open  for dinner on Tuesday, November 21 (lunch in Bistro & Café begins Wednesday, November 22). In addition, The Fuel Co. Café will open the day before Thanksgiving so you can buy those tasty side dishes.

Going to the Chick-fil-A opening, dude?

After 26 years, we're finally getting a stand-alone Chick-fil-A restaurant. Walter Owen, who opened the Chick-fil-A in Fashion Square Mall in 1979, plans to hatch the new Chick near Lowe's and the Rio Hill Shopping Center at 350 Woodbrook Drive on November 9. If you're lucky enough to be reading the Hook hot off the presses, you might still have a chance to get a year's supply of the fast-food chicken!

 As a special promotion to celebrate the opening, Chick-fil-A is giving the first 100 people in a line on Thursday a year's supply of combo-meal coupons. Granted it isn't fine dining, but if you have a weakness for the salty nibblets, you might want to grab a warm blanket and head over to Woodbrook Drive. 

You'll need the blanket because you're going to have to jockey for position. As Chick spokesperson Cindi Pickett reports, the popular promotion has attracked "groupies" who travel the country like Grateful Dead fans. "I know of about 20 folks who are coming down from Maryland for the Charlottesville opening," she says. 

Pickett says people can begin camping out 24 hours before the November 9 giveaway starts at 6am. "It usually becomes a big tailgate type party with games, prizes, dances, food, midnight ice cream," says Pickett, who has camped out at more than 55 of the openings. "If you come Wednesday night, the parking lot will be filled with tents, sleeping bags, chairs. It's almost as if the year supplies are just the cherry on the whole sundae."

Feast pops! 

Feast!'s business manager, Jennifer Blackwell, reports that the popular gourmet shop in the West Main Market has been selected by marketing expert and author Pam Danziger as one of America's "shops that pop" in her new book, Shopping: Why We Love It and How Retailers Can Create the Ultimate Customer Experience.  

"Since opening Feast! we've tried to be an alternative to corporate groceries by developing a unique character," says Kate Collier, who opened the shop with Eric Gertner in 2002. 

Now it appears that character has been recognized.

"Fewer than 20 retailers are designated as shops that pop in my new book," Danziger says. "Feast! shares great company with national chains like Saks Fifth Avenue and Barnes & Noble, as well as small independent retailers across the country."

Feast! was recognized for evoking shoppers' curiosity, expressing an authentic concept, creating a "convergence" between atmosphere, store design and merchandise, and other marketing accomplishments. 

Of course, for Dish it's all about the hard-to-find tasty cheeses and specialty meats! But hey, there's nothing wrong with a little crowing.

And the winner is...

And while we're on the topic of crowing, Lafayette Inn owner Alan Pyles informs Dish that the popular Stanardsville landmark was recently awarded "Restaurant of the Year" at the Virginia Food & Wine Association's annual banquet held in Richmond on October 30. The award recognizes the Inn's creativity in supporting Virginia wines with their wine dinners and special wine events. "We didn't even know they had a "Restaurant of the Year" category, so it was a total surprise," says Pyle. 

"To say we are pleased and honored," he adds, "would be an understatement."

Just gas. Fuel Co.'s other fill-ups will be unavailable while the popular gourmet filling station gets a "nip and tuck."