Get in line: 'Hometown hero' snubs Applebee's?
When I heard that the new Applebee's at Rivanna Ridge in Pantops was devoting an entire wall of memorabilia to Dave Matthews as Charlottesville's "hometown hero," I was somehow expecting more than a few posters hidden away on the restaurant's barely visible rear wall. So was Applebee's manager Amy Porter.
Porter, who's been with the chain for over nine years, told Dish they were intending to fill a larger, more visible wall with Matthews' memorabilia. That is, until a band rep allegedly declined the restaurant's request for donated material.
"They basically told our design group that Applebee's doesn't fit their image," Porter says, "which is funny since at least two of the band members eat here regularly."
Porter, working with Atlanta's Acme Designs, decided, instead, to decorate the wall with a UVA sports theme, similar to displays at the Applebee's on Branchlands Boulevard. She intends to use her personal connections (she's friendly with bassist Stefan Lessard's sister, and her husband works on Dave's house) to supplement the current collection of Matthews posters from the Internet.
But that probably won't be necessary. According to the Director of Marketing for Red Light Management, Patrick Jordan, the band did agree to supply Applebee's with some Matthews swag.
"We were surprised by the unusual request, but we clearly agreed to participate in some way with Applebee's," he says. Jordan tells Dish that a series of other obligations– including the band's recent tours– has simply delayed the deal beyond the restaurant's October 4 opening. Another contributing factor is that the restaurant's corporate office requested early, Trax-era stuff– a difficult order to fill since those items are privately held.
"I simply wouldn't know how to find those things," Jordan says, "but I do intend to visit the restaurant this week to get an idea of what sorts of items we could provide them with instead." Not an Applebee's regular himself, Jordan did mention that the Pantops location is on the way to the band's studio.
Though the 20-year-old franchise makes a point of celebrating local groups and individuals on its visually impressive wall displays (Albemarle Fire and Rescue and Police gear decorates the entry vestibule, for instance), the "hometown hero" idea was introduced this year by the Applebee's corporate office.
Burrito and taco fans no longer need to leave their desk or dorm room to enjoy the tortilla-wrapped goodies. Atomic Burrito, the groovy little taqueria and bar that opened in April on Second Street, now delivers menu items as well as beer to the Downtown and UVA areas.
"We thought it was time people had an option other than pizza and Chinese (not that those aren't great too)," says co-owner Andrew Vaughan. Since the burritos, quesadillas and tacos can be assembled in a matter of seconds, the time between order and to-your-door delivery could be close to microscopic. In case of traffic, heat bags will keep your coconut rice and marinated steak warm- day or night.
Station's break over
After a mysterious month-long closure, it looks like Station is ready to re-open "refueled and pumped" as their ads say. When I spoke to chef Chris Humphrey on Thursday, October 14, he told me the West Main bar and restaurant was planning to start serving dinner the following evening. As for the results of the month-long hiatus, customers can expect a completely new menu with Italian undertones lasagna Bolognese, osso buco, rosemary-roasted pork loin, tiramisu– and a new (more affordable) wine list.
Dining with Dave
PHOTO BY JEN FARIELLO