Ivy arrival: A big fat Greek... grill
When I first glimpsed the banner announcing the imminent arrival of the "University Grill" on Ivy Road (in the former home of Hardees next to the 7-Eleven), I somehow just figured the White Spot's Dmitris and Serafim Tavampis were involved. So when insistent pounding on the boarded-up windows and bolted doors produced a smiling, dark-haired man with a strong Greek accent, I wasn't surprised.
Stavros Adamis, owner of this soon-to-open (30 days or so) family restaurant with Serafim, has been a friend of the Tavampis brothers since childhood. The trio met as boys in their hometown of Palleros, just across the Ionian from the dreamy island of Lefkada.
Though Dmitris helped his brother and friend find the prime Ivy Road location, he couldn't tear himself away from the White Spot to run it with them. Will he miss sharing the tiny diner with his brother?
"Him? I can see him anytime," he says. As for Serafim, he's ready to adjust to the enormous kitchen of the University Grill, already gleaming with brand new equipment. Serafim and Adamis are still putting the finishing touches on the menu but say we can expect lots of freshly prepared Greek specialties- egg-lemon soup, spanakopita, mousaka, Greek salads, souvlaki, lemon-roasted chicken with potatoes, and, of course, gyros with satziki (yogurt, cuke, garlic, dill) sauce.
Rounding out the breakfast, lunch and dinner offerings are staples like eggs, burgers, and pasta galore. Wine and beer will be available shortly after opening. University Grill will be open every day starting at 6am. As a beach bum myself, I only wonder how these island natives can work so darn hard.
Barracks Road says hi to two franchises, 'bye to one
Back in January, Dish reported on the likelihood that national bakery-café franchise Panera Bread would be coming to Barracks Road. Now that Our Daily Bread Co. is long gone (though still sorely missed), a sign on the window of the enormous space vacated by Blue Ridge Mountain Sports (who packed up their gear and moved next door to the former A&N space) proves the rumors were true.
Panera, which already has two locations in Richmond, plans to open some time this fall (though no start date for construction has been released). For those not familiar with the St. Louis-based company, Panera (aka "a time for bread") strives to bring the "simple pleasure" of good bread to places like shopping plazas that might otherwise be crust-less.
According to Panera spokesperson Kevin Ament, Panera dough is made daily in the Midwest then shipped fresh (not frozen) overnight to individual cafés, all equipped with proofing rooms and stone-decked ovens imported from Europe. In addition to its basic bread and bread-based menu (sandwiches, bagels, soups, salads), Panera recently announced a line of "artisan breads," made with a natural, grape-based starter and then individually hand-shaped and hand-scored.
"There's been a collective maturing of the American palate," Ament says, "and we know that if we're going to compete with mom-and-pop bakeries, we'd better have great bread."
Just next door to Panera, a baker is gearing up to open a franchise of his own in the space vacated by Chesapeake Bagel Bakery. UVA alum and former Alexandria bakery owner Bill McKechnie hopes to introduce the popular, family-founded Five Guys Burgers and Fries in October. As for Chesapeake's other location, on the Corner, management at the Red Roof Inn say they have not yet found a tenant to fill the space.
University Grill Owners Serafim Tavampis, left, and Stavros Adamis br>PHOTO BY JEN FARIELLO