Odell's exit: Unfortunate events to the north
Callers to Odell's restaurant in Gordonsville over the last few weeks learned some startling news: Odell's has closed, the message reports, "because of a series of unfortunate events."
Fans of Lemony Snicket books know that a "series of unfortunate events" is never good news, but in this case it could be worse.
Steve and Becky Lynch, proprietors of Odell's, say the evil Count Olaf has not wreaked havoc on their lives like he did those unfortunate Baudelaire children. No houses tumbling off cliffs, no deadly blazes, no indentured servitude.
Instead, the website explains, blame lies with difficulties with a lease as well as a "brutal" winter.
"We were only a year-and-a-half old," says Becky, "and we weren't making any money yet. So when the building went on the market, the restaurant closed."
Could the opening of Pomme, an acclaimed eatery in downtown Gordonsville, have contributed to Odell's woes?
"Not at all," says Becky. "We were totally different. They're a small French restaurant with a bit more elevated menu."
She believes competition would have helped all the restaurants in Gordonsville.
"I think we were just a little early," she says, citing their October 2003 opening. "Gordonsville has so much potential, and if we could have stuck it out, we would have been fine."
The building that housed Odell's is actually two physical addresses with a rich history: it served as a movie theater, dance hall, museum, and town hall at various points in its past. Now it's on the market for $800,000.
Lynch says she's hopeful that Odell's isn't permanently out of the Gordonsville dining scene.
"We love all of our customers and hope to stay in touch with them," she says. "We hope to have another venue where we'll see them again soon."
Bye Bye, Bertine's
In other mournful news from the northlands, Bertine's North closed its doors back in January.
"We decided we're tired," says Christine Poticha, who opened the downtown Madison restaurant with husband, Bernard (hence the name), back in 1992 following a decade operating a guest house and restaurant on the Caribbean island of St. Martin.
Now, says Poticha, "Our son is a junior in high school; we're going to downsize and relocate."
The restaurant, which doubled as the Poticha home, is a 3,000 -square-foot Arts and Crafts style house now listed for $429,000.
The Potichas say they won't be back in the food biz anytime soon.
"It was exciting to go to a show on a Saturday night," says Christine of a recent trip out to see the Leonardo DiCaprio film, The Aviator. "We said, 'Oh my gosh, we're like normal people!'"
It's been a couple of months since the sign outside the old High Street Steak & Grill changed to read Donnie Mc's: Home of Adam's Rib and BBQ, and new owner Donnie McDaniel says he's enjoying life as a restaurateur.
"I been coming here for years," says McDaniel, who's run Adam's Rib catering across High Street for the last three years and moved the business over when he took over the High Street Steak and Grill location on February 1.
Since then he's made a few changes to the place long known for its big burgers and pool tables.
"It's more of a family place now," says McDaniel, who removed one of the two pool tables, reopened the patio, and added horseshoe pits. He'll hold karaoke on Friday nights, and is considering having a "one-man show" on the patio on Thursday nights.
While diners can still fill up on burgers, steaks, and "homemade vegetables," breakfast is now served all day. But the real specialty is the barbeque made in on-site pressure cookers.
McDaniel says he gets plenty of help running the restaurant from family and friends.
"It's kind of a mom and pop operation," he says.
Donnie McDaniel opened Donnie Mc's in the High Street Steak and Grill spot on February 1.
PHOTO BY COURTENEY STUART