New 'Skybar' restaurant coming to the Mall

It's been a long time coming, but it appears that Downtown landlord Gabe Silverman has finally found a long-term tenant for the old A&N building on the east end of the Mall.

Alex George, former owner of Just Curry and former partner in Cinema Taco, along with four investors, will be opening the Commonwealth Restaurant & Skybar sometime in June.

Okay, it's not the spectacular roof-top restaurant atop the Landmark Hotel that Halsey Minor promised (you may have to crane your neck to get any view of the horizon), but we'll take it.

Plans for the renovation of the building, drawn up by architect Marthe Rowen, were approved by the Board of Architectural Review recently, and George says the design firm Alloy Workshop will team up with her to design the interior. A notable addition to the building will be a roof-top terrace, which George says will have restaurant seating and a bar.

Well, it certainly looks like the International Style is alive and well on the Downtown Mall. A steel-framed canopy over the skybar recalls Philip Johnson's renowned Glass House in New Canaan, Connecticut. The other obvious exterior change will be a simple modern canopy guarding the front door, which will move from the center to the corner of the façade.

Actually, the circa-1900 building was orginally two stories, but the second story either burned or was removed in the mid-20th century. After years as the A&N building, it became the local Obama campaign headquaters in 2008 and served as an art gallery until recently.

In 2006 a Littlejohn's Deli was planned for the space, and the very next year plans for a grocery store were proposed. So the food theme continues.

Unfortunartely, folks living in the building will see their small second-story windows covered with a wall. The open-air roof-top section will inlcude two bathrooms, seating, a full-bar, and guardrails along the parapet to lean on and view the street below.  

A large portion of the brick wall on the 5th Street SE side of the building will be demolished, making way for fixed or sliding windows that will extend down to the floor level.

The menu, says George, who will be the executive chef, will feature what he's calling "new American cuisine with a South American influence."

"I want to pull from the entire continent of South America and the Caribbean to infuse color into the food," says George. He says he'll be using locally sourced food when available, but says the menu will be supplemented with foods from South America and the Caribbean. (Indeed, it's hard to find a locally grown mango.)

George says the restaurant will serve a light menu from 3pm to 5pm, then the regular menu until 9:30pm, at which time the downstairs will close and a late night menu will be served on the Skybar until closing.

Can't wait!


looks like the rooftop bar will have a great view...of the sides of the three multi-story buildings that surround it.

This sounds great, but aren't there like 20 other restaurants in town with a South American influence to them? What is going to make Skybar stand out? Not a view, certainly.

I don't think heights and alcohol mix real well.

I have been waiting for my rooftop bar ever since Halsey Frickin' Minor promised it three years ago.

At this point I don't even care about the view. I WANT my ROOFTOP BAR.

I don't know about "20 other restaurants in town with a South American influence to them". If this is done right, it could be a very welcome addition to the downtown scene. Just Curry and Cinema Taco both had a cachet and were/are quite tasty.

I wish them best of luck in this new venture.

Other than a cheap photo shop job this looks like it will become the pigeon poop loft. Northern Exposure did something similar, but that frequent belch of street-side diesel smoke ruined many a great meal. Best wishes for success with your endeavor. Just open up early for the summer concert series so we can give you a try and still get a place on the lawn. After several years of attending concerts, I have found that the downtown merchants don't seem to understand they have a venue in their backyard.

I hear Sarah Palin is coming for the Grand Opening. She will be able to see The Free Speech Wall from there.

That's a great location--right next door to the former Antics vintage clothing store (newly quadrupled in size and renamed Low). It's often open late on Fridays and Saturdays. And what a relief that that mostly empty building, an eyesore for way too many years, will finally have a tenant.

Great place to take a date... cool very cool

Views of nothing, but outside is always a plus, weather permitting. A total rehab job by restaurant novices makes for a very happy landlord.

Wonder if they can compete with the Martini Bar over in W'boro??? hmmm....just food for thought...

who wants to go to waynesboro? ugh...glad there's a mountain in-between

Free Speech,

I think the food joints know they have multiple venues in their backyard, hence the late night light supper offering. The Pavilion is hardly the only one, though apparently you think it is. I doubt this place could have survived before the City forced that over amplified ugly behemoth to blast the entire Mall to the extent that outside wait staff couldn't even take orders. Maybe when the Pavilion is forced down to the levels of Friday's After Five, the entire area might really become a place for all sorts of patrons to enjoy the music venues as well as other parts of the Mall again.


"doubt this place could have survived before the City forced that over amplified ugly behemoth to blast the entire Mall to the extent that outside wait staff couldn't even take orders."

Should read:

doubt this place could have survived before the City forced that over amplified ugly behemoth that blasted the entire Mall to the extent that outside wait staff couldn't even take orders to turn it down a few notches.

This is great news! Been wanting that place turned into a restaurant with seating upstairs for years. And the Pavilion's been a GREAT addition to this town. Tons of fantastic acts have come through.

Rooftop bar is for women and old men. Basement lounge is for true man!

Smoke free on the roof?

Or will it be a typical Miller's sort of place where they heavily promote smoking by putting ash trays on every table next to high chairs for babies?

I wonder how the noise from the rooftop bar will effect the swanky apartments nearby.
If they have any type of music up there, they will have to be quite carefully not to become bad neighbors.

Next door on the 2nd floor are 5 apartments, currently with windows providing light, air, and emergency escape. Gabe Silverman is bricking those windows over. When asked to move the wall he's erecting out just a small distance so emergency egress could be allowed through the windows, he said sure, if you want to pay $7,000 per month. He could have worked with the community, worked with his neighbors to find a very reasonable solution. Instead he showed care for nothing but money -- no care at all for the people that are his building's neighbors, and plans to seal up their air and emergency egress. How would he feel if we went to his house and bricked over his windows? No heart. Just money. Sounds like the Grinch or Ebeneezer Scrooge. spome people call him the Devil.

Covering the windows of 5 can a person be so heartless??? so careless? I wish NOTHING but the worse to this place...Money comes and goes, It's not everything in life


I completely agree that some good acts have gone through the Pavilion. However, the volume of many leaves a lot to be desired, unless you have hearing damage, and I don't think it's necessary that neighborhoods as far away as St Charles should have to hear it if they don't want to.

I stop eating at the DT Mall in large part because of the Pavilion. Early on it was so loud the waitstaff couldn't hear to take an order.

Like I said, when they turn it down, say to FAF, I will find it to be a real addition to Charlottesville.

So the owners of the apartments expected the A&N building to remain an ugly, dormant turd forever? If you want guaranteed side windows for life, don't buy a building that is in between two other buildings.

Silverman will deliver this new bar right after he finishes that paving project over at the Amtrak station.

Also, didn't Just Curry change its name to Just Closed?

That first step could be a big one........ah, our very own "Windows on the World"

The Pavilion has what, ~20 ticketed concerts a year that last past 9? Add in ~20 Fridays After Five shows for a total of 40 nights where there is a concert downtown perhaps? Is it fair to say that 200 nights a year we have appropriate weather conditions for dining downtown? So people are passing up 160 days of nice downtown dining due to some concerts at the Pavilion? Just check the schedule. If there is a concert going on, eat elsewhere. The existence of the Pavilion alone doesn't seem like it would necessitate refusing to eat on the mall.

I'm definitely looking forward to this place opening. Weather permitting, I'd always prefer to be at an outdoor or open air bar. Where exactly is it going to be? About a block off of the Pavillion? Is the plan for the customers on the rooftop part of the bar to be able to hear the Pavillion shows from there?

I hope they have micro-portions and $17 martinis! And would it be too much to ask for a wait staff full of tattooed hipsters who roll their eyes at the clientele? :D

That street needs some new retail businesses. The salad shop closed as did Ventana. Right now the only viable remaining business in that block is the store that sells cat-related items.

Sorry about the windows, But this place could be a cool spot if people GO OUT TO EAT IN CHARLOTTESVILLE. I cant believe that so many places have closed since I left a while back. If this place thinks its going to make it based on a roof top dining space it is very very wrong. I just hope the food is good, and not dressed up, pricey, and Metrosexual south american fusion ( which is kinda what it sounds like ) Maybe the guy from just curry, will just cook well cooked, not to expensive food and people will come out and eat there on days other than friday and saturday. If it goes down in flames, Halsey Minor should open a In & OUT BURGER There, people would actually Go there to eat>

Sure, open-air dining and mingling is nice. But does Charlottesville need another restaurant right now, of ANY kind? What about more brick? Yes, that's what we need. In fact, let's put those bricks over people's windows. I have a friend who lives in one of those apartments. He's going to have a hard time using that tiny skylight as an emergency escape. The long hallway with staircases at either end isn't a great option. Doesn't this violate some kind of safety code? And how much does it cost to buy—flat out BUY—a permit? If a few extra $$ can get a building permit, my career as an civil/environmental engineer will be pretty short, and my education practically worthless.


It's a bummer that the neighbor's windows are being bricked over, but it doesn't sound like they were big light-pouring-in windows anyway. Fresh air, cross-breeze, and maybe an emergency exit, yeah, it's a bum deal to lose those. But the folks living there can just vote with their feet when their leases are up, and go find a better place to live & a landlord who is more in tune with his residential customers' needs. (Or they could try to get out of their leases early with the loss of window? maybe?) I'm sure the landlord will have no trouble finding someone to take their places. Free market economy. Sux to have to move, but, thems the breaks. Meanwhile, I will drink to their happiness and well-being as I hang out on the roof drinking yummy cocktails this summer. Sounds like a fun addition to the Mall! Can't wait!

Gee. What a drag these lame posters are...personally, I'll enjoy sitting outside on a gorgeous Virginia
summer afternoon, a glass of wine, some fresh, cooling bits to eat. I guess the haters on this site will
be sitting in their SUVs inhaling fumes at the McDonalds drive thru?!

I am very excited to dine on the food of the behind-the-scenes chef once more who has over a decade of experience cooking for Charlottesville's fickle clientele. Dining outside will be a plus, but the food will be the real draw. It is a terrible shame to take away the windows of the tenants next door. But, please don't punish the restaurant and it's employees working to provide for their families because their landlord isn't a good neighbor. See you there!