Sound familiar? McClures take Virginian up the street
When the Roanoke-based owner of Awful Arthur's vacated the historic Inge building on morphing West Main street in January, I sixth-sensed that it wouldn't be long before a new, locally owned restaurant took its prime place. But little did I suspect that the new tenants would turn out to be the current owners/operators of the oldest restaurant on the Corner- The Virginian.
Should've figured it'd be the brothers McClure.
You see, when I first met 25-year-old Andy McClure and his older brother Patrick McClure (26) over a year ago, they did drop a hint about plans to take their tried-and-true restaurant concept– all-American comfort food, in an environment that's fun and casual, and at the same time romantic and slightly upscale- to a second location.
It was only a matter of time– 1.5 years, to be precise– before everything clicked and the restaurant they'll be calling West Main– a Virginian Restaurant found its home (and, of course, it's classic name) on West Main. By late spring, the doors should be open for business.
"We looked at numerous locations all over town, but this particular one appealed to us right away because of its history and its versatility," Andy says. Accustomed to their rather petite, shotgun spot on the Corner, the team immediately recognized the potential of the relatively large, tri-leveled West Main building.
"This space gives us the chance to offer customers several different experiences simultaneously– a couple could be celebrating their anniversary dinner in the intimate upstairs dining room, while friends dine in the casual main-level bar, and sports fans cheer wildly downstairs," says Patrick.
What, you may ask, is so unique about the "Virginian" concept that makes it worthy of replication? Nothing- and that's precisely the point.
"We love a lot of restaurants here, and we think it's great that you can get tapas one night, French dim-sum another," Patrick says, "but we feel there's room in Charlottesville for a high-quality restaurant that appeals to everybody."
So don't expect too much in terms of fusion, frou-frou ingredients, or fancy sauces on the West Main menu. Do expect everything from burgers and sandwiches to steaks and seafood (more on the menu coming soon). Andy's explanation of their choice of a name also speaks to the part they'll soon play in the dramatic Downtown restaurant scene. "West Main may not be as hip as Bang! or Blue Light, but it's simple, conservative, and classy," he says.
The fact that they're calling West Main a "Virginian restaurant" suggests we should expect more from this dynamic duo in years to come. Especially considering their dual-devotion to restaurants and the Charlottesville community.
Native Virginians (from Alexandria) Patrick and Andy both graduated from UVA, in philosophy and finance, respectively. Andy worked at The Virginian while a student, and the team bought and started transforming the famed, but oft-in-transition establishment two and a half years ago. Since then they've totally revamped the menu, figured out how to feed business lunchers, lovers, and co-eds under one roof, and computerized what had been an all-paper management operation.
It's not always easy working with relatives, but these two have struck what seems like a perfect balance. Andy handles the numbers and keeps the big picture in mind, while more flamboyant Pat, a former ski instructor, excels at micro-tasks like training employees.
Both, however, are showmen, "people people," and it's clear that their desire to make customers happy is fueling their ambitious business plans.
"We love this community and the people in it," Patrick says. "That's why we want to start our business here rather than someplace else."
Andy and Patrick McClure at West Main– A Virginian Restaurant
PHOTO BY JEN FARIELLO