General stores: Alive and well here and there<B>
FOOD- THE DISH- General stores: Alive and well here and there
Visitors to Batesville today might find it hard to believe that this tranquil hamlet 15 minutes southwest of Charlottesville was once a bustling center of commerce. You see, way back when (we're talking a century or so), Plank Road was the main thoroughfare between Staunton and Scottsville's James River. People transporting goods to and from the James simply had to pass through Batesville for an evening, which is why the village once supported a total of five general stores.
Well, even now, when Batesville is a quiet and quite diverse residential community, it apparently needs a general store, a place to pick up a carton of milk, a bunch of bananas or baby greens, a sandwich, or a bottle of cola or sauvignon blanc.
Established in 1913 and operated by the Page family until 1994, Page's Store recently re-opened to satisfy those desires, and with some impressive 21st century upgrades.
Instead of selling it to someone else, realtor and long-time Batesville resident (though he now calls Afton home) Norm Jenkins decided to buy the building and the business from client Charlie Page last October. Following extensive, historically respectful renovations (new heating and AC, a new walk-in, new and refinished flooring), expansions and upgrades (the original store was in a lower key), Jenkins re-opened the new take on an old genre on March 20.
From the deli case to the beverage shelves, the store's supply reflects the general and unique needs of this community of farmhouses, estates, humble homes, and new developments located miles from a supermarket or restaurant.
"We have a very diverse socio-economic population and everyone from John Grisham to migrant workers stops into Page's," Jenkins tells Dish. "That's why I need to stock gourmet salad dressing and Kraft dressing. I have Veuve-Clicquot and I have Boone's Farm wine, and I've already sold both."
General Restaurant ? West Main has it all
Impeccably restored and ready-for-occupancy, Fellini's is still searching for an enterprising restaurateur to bring it fully back to life. Mason Graham of Downer Realty tells Dish that several parties (local and soon-to-be local) have expressed serious interest– but it could be months before the deal is done...
Meanwhile, things have fallen into place with impressive speed at another historic location just a few blocks away. Three months shy of signing the lease at 333 West Main, Andy and Patrick McClure opened their second eatery, West Main: a Virginian Restaurant on Friday, May 20. Compared to the shot-gun size of their historic corner eatery, the Virginian, this multi-level, multi-mood structure seems like a vast new landscape. And it seems the McClures are taking full advantage of the possibilities.
In fact, since we're on the topic of general stores, West Main could perhaps be best described as a "general restaurant," with its selection of casual (booths, TVs) and romantic (red walls, fireplaces) dining spaces, and its downstairs pub and music hall, its broad-appeal menu (from turkey reubens to rainbow trout) and its "come-one, come-all" hours (11am-2am, 7 days).
How appropriate, too, since, in one of its former incarnations, the 150 year-old building was once home to a general store called Inge's.
Gleaming scales are back in action at Page's Store.
PHOTO BY CHRISTINA BALL