The Tavern, known for its famous roof-top slogan, could be gone by the end of the year.
A classic breakfast at The Tavern. Yum!
Photo courtesy Mas to Millers
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."