FOOD-THE DISH- Fuel Co. future? 'Labor of love' due new concept

What's in Fuel Co.'s future? Kluge and company aren't saying, but they plan to come up with a new concept for the one-of-a-kind gas station.

The sudden closure of Fuel Co. came as a shock to lots of folks, prompting a variety of theories about what could have happened, according to Kluge Estate Winery and Vineyard spokesperson Kristin Moses. But she says it's really very simple.

"There's no great mystery about why," says Moses, who happened to be away on vacation when the pumps and wine stopped flowing June 30. "When we started out, the vineyard was only 12 acres; now it's 200. Then there's the new Vineyard Estates development, as well various charity projects. It got to be problem to give Fuel Co. a hundred percent attention."

Indeed, the Kluge vineyard has grown considerably since it was founded in 1999, and the first luxury home at Vineyard Estates, named Glen Love, will be unveiled August 15. Kluge plans to build 24 of these luxury homes– which come with 24/7 concierge service– on her 2,000-acre vineyard property near Carter Mountain. Half the homes will have vineyards on the property, allowing owners to view and become involved in the winemaking.

Oddly enough, the idea is similar to Fuel Co., which sought to bring people, fine wine, and gourmet food together in a familiar setting. However, unlike a gas station, not everyone will find the elaborate homes at Vineyard Estates familiar, priced as they are between $6 million and $23 million, and featuring high-style  Georgian, Federal, Gothic, and Beaux Arts designs.

Still, Moses says there are no plans to sell the Fuel Co. property, although they've already received some offers.

"We actually have a myriad of possibilities," she says, remaining tight-lipped as to what those might be. "We're going to come up with a new concept for the space." 

So will the funky gas station remain? The other-worldly purple lights? Moses says she's not sure.

"Fuel Co. was a labor of love for them," says Moses of Pat Kluge and husband, Bill Moses, who happens to be her dad. "That was always Pat's big thing– that wine should go with food. Right now, they don't want to make a knee-jerk decision about what to do."

Artini after shocks

For the second year, Second Street Gallery's Artini did not disappoint. Like the underground dance scene in the Matrix-Reloaded (absent the coupling of Neo and Trinity, of course), gyrating bodies crowded the bombed-out Frank IX building July 20 in a sexy revelry of Artini-fueled deca-dance. 

Bikini-clad painted dancers (and one shirtless boy) served drinks in between podium grinds, while circus performers spun fire and whirled hoola-hoops. Around a harem-like white gossamer tent with a small pool and fountains, party-goes lounged on impossibly white beds, resting between dances and assaults at the bar, where sweating bartenders could barely keep up with the demand.

Indeed, despite having 20 cases of liquor, 30 cases of beer, and 12 cases of wine on hand, the bar went dry at 11:30pm, a situation that had quite a few party-goers grumbling. According to organizer and OXO Restaurant owner Alice Kim, planners had about 4500 drinks on hand at the start of the evening.

"Somehow that amount of alcohol was consumed by 11:30," she says. "We're still trying to get a perspective on that. We did have more drinks back within about 30 minutes, but we definitely apologize for the problem." 

Unlike last year, the party also featured a VIP area for high-end sponsers, which some party goers found off-putting. 

"Last year we felt the artists, judges, high-level sponsors, and donors were lost in the mix of the party," says Kim. "We wanted a place to feature them. Since the bulk of the people attending the party were all about drinking, dancing, mingling, and being wild, we didn't think they would miss out on that area." 

Some female revelers also found the bikini-clad dancers off-putting, and felt they gave the space a strip club atmosphere. The majority of male attendees, however, seemed to have no problem with that. 

In keeping with last year's "sexy, elegant, white, Miami vibe," Kim says, they brought back the white beds, which last year's thunderstorms prevented people from enjoying, and added the fountains and the girls in bikinis. 

"The girls, and boy, were body painted with colorful designs, as well as names of our high-level sponsors," says Kim. "We wanted to create an environment, ambiance, and vibe of a nightclub that would be found in a major city."

Indeed, "Is this Charlottesville?" was a refrain Dish heard more than once during the evening. 

Unfortunately, this was the last Artini party to be held in the Frank IX building, as it appears the City is playing party pooper.

"I was told by the City that this was the last event of any kind to ever be held in that space," says Kim.

Waynesboro chili challenge

Are you the best chili chef on the planet? That's what Waynesboro's Downtown Development authority is asking area cooks as it prepares for its Chili, Blues, 'N Brews Cook-Off on September 8. Register now by calling 540-949-6705 or going online at and you could win some big prizes– or at least show off your chili chops. 

In addition to a hot competition, the event will serve up blues with Eli Cook & the Electric Holy Firewater Band, as well as other notables like Mojo Cookies, Deep Blue Jones, and Jon Abell. And it's all for a good cause: the proceeds will help benefit the Waynesboro Boys & Girls Club. 

Speaking of cooking competitions...Jacie Dunkle at Fellini's #9 says last week's mention of the "Chef Ten" competition between West Main's Ian Donahue and Fellini's #9's Chris Humphrey has local chefs thumping their chests.

"Other chefs are calling and challenging our chef for another competition," says Dunkle.

Stay ready to rumble over those 8-burner Vikings!



I loved the Fuel French Fries (especially when they were free on Fridays) and miss them.

Why, why, why no more Artini at IX???