Meet-less: Toodle-oo, Tavern?

Come year's end, it looks like students, tourists, and townpeople may have to find a new place to meet.

After a 30-year run, it appears The Tavern on Emmet Street will close on December 31, 2011, unless Tavern owner Shelly Gordon and property owner Clara Belle Wheeler can come to terms on the possible extension of a closed-end, five-year lease the two signed in 2007.

Gordon says the extension deals he's been offered are too expensive. Wheeler declined to comment on the negotiations because she says it's a private legal matter. Meanwhile, Gordon says he's been checking out new locations for the place where "students, tourists, and townpeople meet," one he'd like to be close to the University, have decent parking, and be safe for his older clientele. Of course, that might be a tall order, considering how pricey University-area real estate has become.

Wheeler says she has a lot of affection for The Tavern, having eaten there with her father– who developed the Meadowcreek Shopping Center– when she was a kid and when it was a place called Gus' Tavern, and later Sarg's

Back in the summer of 2008, Gordon weathered some bad publicity when The Tavern was cited for numerous "critical repeat" health code violations, including being the source of 10 confirmed cases of salmonella poisoning. Gordon voluntarily closed The Tavern down and was quick to address the problems.

"After this is over, we'll be the most compliant restaurant in Charlottesville," Gordon told the Hook, "but right now we're not."

And when The Tavern re-opened, it passed inspections with flying colors. Indeed, the local food blog Mas to Millers has a review that pretty well sums up The Tavern experience.

The Tavern's ordeal may have led to greater public safety. As one health official told the Hook, "If you look at the Health Department's inspection records [which are available online], there are quite a few restaurants with violations."

As Wheeler points out, the circa-1950s building itself has some health issues, most notably a roof that could use replacing. Asked what she plans to do with the building should Gordon leave, Wheeler says, "I really have no idea."


Overrated *clap* *clap*, *clap* *clap* *clap*

Yeah, hope they put a PF Chang's or Cheesecake Factory there, so we can be just like Short Pump.

It would be such a tragedy if we lost the Tavern. Love it or hate it, it's a Charlottesville institution and personally I have to agree with the blog review about the pancakes. Nobody else in town comes close. Hang in there Gordo!

Stupid backwards ampersand.

The landlord may want to think twice. If they leave she will surely have to upgrade and with an old building like that who knows what the city will find when they go for a new occupancy permit.

I suppose the land is worth something if they tear down and rebuild, but that is a risk too.

Maybe she should learn a lesson from Ms Kluge and enjoy the bird in the hand.

Not a big fan. Been there a few times over the years and it's okay. But good example of the C'ville greed factor at work. Greedy landlords abound and have been part of the C'ville saga for a long time. Get rid of a mainstay and bring in some shi-shi eatery, or in this case probably tear it down and build a Neiman Marcus.

Even old traditions sometimes have to go. I graduated from UVA six years ago, and still live near Cville. That place was a dump back then, and still is, I'm sorry to say. I'm sure the owners are perfectly nice people, but the waitresses there are unpleasant, which is part of why I never take people there anymore. Move on.

Despite the improvements the Tavern still doesn't seem, to me, to be clean enough that I've been comfortable eating there. I also think the food is overpriced for what you get. There are simply other breakfast joints I prefer.

For a southern lady, Clara Belle Wheeler is the Shylock of all time. Meadowbrook Hardware was forced to move,too, by this "money conscious" southern gentle lady. Surely she is rich enough to live out her life without squeezing the tavern to death. Come on.

Follow the fat people in town and chances are, you'll also find either the most tastiest eats and/or best buffet values around. The Tavern HAS been one of those. I oughta know cause some of my greatest breakfasts were ate there. Oh, that is despite the surly staff too (which for awhile once, was also tauted as a big attraction draw.) Beat me, feed me and make me pass counterfeit currency.

Anyhow, I have a suggestion.... maybe Gordon could move his outfit over into Fry's Spring Beach Club. Yeah, the Fry's Spring Neighborhood would have an uproar with that. Hard to tell which is more of a local landmark (or is that benchmark), the business or the building.

Dahmius is right about there being an inclined greedy landlord factor and it being integrally woven into the C'ville landscape. As for Wheeler not knowing what she'll do with her building when the tavern vacates? I'm sure the city's Board of Archectectural Review (comparative to the Child Catcher character from the movie Chitty Chitty Bang Bang) will be forthcoming with some readily immediate idea.

The landlord has a perfect right in doing just as she wishes. Some are obviously jealous because she maintains control in the situation. The landlord is well-respected and admired by A LOT of people. Get a life and make your own pancakes.

Well respected? Hah, what a joke. Maybe she wants to try and get the YMCA to build there.

I think City Council or some other government entity should step in and tell the landlords what exactly is fair rent, and make them charge that amount.

Has that been tried before anywhere?

Yeah Mark, it has...In Communist Russia. Maybe you can buy him out with some friends and run it as a collective progressive pancake house with organic buckwheat and tofu omelets. Now, having said that I think it is a shame that old traditional places are priced out of business. Good breakfast. I like the "ambience" and have never needed an ambulance :) unlike the time I found a roach in some eggs at the old Shoney's

To "Fair Rent" - Mark is being sarcastic, trolling for tea party rants probably.

The market sets the rent and there is nothing wrong with the landlord raising the rent if she wants to, just like an employee can try to find a better-paying job, or a restaurant patron can try to find better food for a particular price or the same food for a lower price. I think calling her greedy or a shylock is just silly. For the people who don't like it, why don't you sell me some of you possessions for less than they are worth? That's what you're asking her to do. For the people that lament the departure of the Tavern, don't sweat it. Wait ten years and have fond feelings for whatever replaces it. Or, if you are really upset, buy the business and pay the landlord what she's asking. And above all remember that in the long run, the building will be dust just like the rest of us. Go out and love somebody.