Get your Kiki's: Cool café near hot yoga

Since I've been making weekly visits to the orange structure many call the "pumpkin" building on Fifth Street SE for over a year now (yes, Dish likes her yoga as hot as a habañero!), I find it funny that mentioning it makes barely a blip on the radar of many people I meet.

Do we inhabit the same universe? Am I just a restless urban soul? Granted, it's hard to keep up with all the newness in and around town– and downtown's baffling street-numbering system doesn't make navigation any easier.

But if the current inhabitants of this colorful, contemporary building– Bikram Yoga Charlottesville, The Hip Joint, and the fun vintage store next door, Antics– haven't lured you to Fifth Street Southeast yet, then their newest neighbor just might.

Kiki Café and Bar is slated to open shortly after Thanksgiving in the spot briefly occupied by BazCones. The Kiki concept– a snazzy little bar and café open for lunch, dinner, and late-night– is the brainchild of Charlottesville resident and caterer Jeannie Brown, who told Dish the idea came to her in the middle of the night.

"I just knew that the east end of the Mall needed a zippy little bar and that I had to open Kiki," she says.

Brown co-owns and will co-operate Kiki with partner Michael Fitzgerald, who says he makes the best mojito in town. Brown and Fitzgerald haven't finalized the menu yet, but we can expect lots of fresh salads, soups, sandwiches, and an ample selection of thirst-quenchers-­ both alcoholic and non.

"A lot will depend on the yoga studio next door," Fitzgerald says. "We may open earlier in the mornings if there's a real demand."

Lizzie Collier and Michaela Curran, co-directors of Bikram Yoga Charlottesville, certainly see the benefit of having Kiki next door. "It will be fantastic to have a café so close to our studio," Collier says. "Our students will likely be able to order before class and pick up right after."

In charge of Kiki's cool look is architect Mike Stoneking, co-owner of the Pumpkin Building and Brown's husband. Stoneking says he's going for a "clean crisp look with lots of texture."

An upholstered banquette and a row of tables and chairs will run along the large front windows, which offer views of sky, street, and the swank new Holsinger building (still under construction). Across from the banquette will be a long, brushed aluminum bar, but don't expect bottles on the wall­ instead, there'll be a texturized wall decorated only with a flat screen TV. But don't expect football games and poker tourneys­ the screen will likely display silent images of surfing competitions, fashion shows, nature scenes, and the like.



 Diners may not have noticed the effects of high gas prices on the food industry, but restaurateurs surely have­ in the form of fuel surcharges. Chefs who order from small farmers come out ahead, however, because­ unlike purveyors from farther afield– local growers tend not to use big, diesel-drinking tractors, and fewer gallons are consumed for deliveries. Gas prices are one more reason to buy local.

Chef Howie Velie of Magnolia Restaurant in Scottsville will be just one of the experts sharing tips on how to incorporate local and seasonal foods into daily meals and life at the Slow Food Tasting Workshop and Vintage Virginia Apples Harvest Festival on Saturday, November 5 from 10am to 5pm at the Rural Ridge Orchard in North Garden.

Learn more about the international Slow Food movement and its local chapter at this free, family-friendly event, which will feature numerous tastings, activities, and seminars (at 11, 12:30 and 2pm) by experts on apples (Tom Burford), cheese (Kate Collier) and herbs (Margaret Shelton). Info and directions:

These signs will soon hang outside the "pumpkin" building at 117 Fifth St SE.