Charlottesville Breaking News

Eating out's in: City meals tax revenue rebounds

With the recent announcement that Charlottesville and Albemarle County are expecting double-digit increases in meals tax revenue for 2013, it looks like our flair for gastronomy is an indicator of economic recovery.

"The tax has been doing much better as the economy has improved," says Charlottesville Commissioner of Revenue Lee Richards, "and we have picked up some new accounts that have really helped." (He just picked up a biggie on March 19 when Cook-Out opened.)

What a difference a few years can make. Back in July 2009, Richard said it was the "worst I've seen it in 35 years," with meal tax revenue falling and restaurant owners struggling to pay their bills.

Richards says the recovery began in 2011 when revenue hit a five-year high of $6.8 million. For 2012, Richards estimates that revenue will be a whopping $7.3 million. For 2013, revenue is expected to be $7.7 million, however, $229,000 of that would be due to a proposed tax due date change from the last day of the month to the 20th of each month.

Richards's tax information came just a few days after Southern Living magazine released the resu...

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Meet the meat: Cook-Out backs up Charlottesville artery

"They can wait," barks the man directing traffic in the parking lot of Charlottesville's newest fastfoodery as he directs this reporter to pull up and thereby block a vehicle trying to exit. "I've got cars," he explains, "out on the road."

Indeed, in the days since North Carolina-based Cook-Out opened at the former site of Long John Silver's, it's been the rare mealtime when cars didn't block, or at least slow, the traffic on Emmet Street, Charlottesville's central vehicular artery.

Arteries carrying blood may find that they too could get blocked if the staples of Cook-Out– mostly various forms of grilled meats– remain too popular for too long. Still, the quiet launch on Monday, March 19 was a pretty snazzy debut for a site whose over 60 marked parking spaces and room for a snake-line of about a dozen or more cars in the drive-thru lane no longer suffice for the food cooked within.

"Everyone's happy for the Cook-Out," says City planner Read Brodhead, who approved the signage and the red roof. "Cheap burgers and milkshakes."

Indeed, when a reporter made his second visit shortly before 2pm that first Saturday, the act of scooping up four trays worth of burgers, including eight mostly meat-based side-items and a trio of Ch...

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Wine tale: Veritas makes State Department debut

Last week, the folks at Veritas Vineyard & Winery in Afton had a challenge and an honor– serving up their wine at a State Department luncheon with the Prime Minister of England David Cameron, Vice President Joe Biden, and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton

"Veritas Wines were used in a toast to Prime Minister Cameron, which we are pleased as punch about," says winemaker Emily Pelton

The daughter of Veritas owners Andrew and Patricia Hodson, Pelton has won a gold medal in the Governor's Cup for her 2010 Vintner's Reserve, but she was really bedazzled by what happened in Washington

"It was a breathtaking event, and I was terribly proud to have my wine served," she says. "My parents are both from England, so it was doubly special to be there."

As Veritas Viognier 2011 and Claret 2010 were served, Pelton says she spotted former Secretary of State Colin Powell and Senator John Kerry and had a chance to speak to Biden and Clinton, but it was an exchange she had with Biden that she treasures. 

"Dad was taking pictures, and it was kind of obvious," recalls Pelton, "so I apologized to Vice President Biden and said, 'I’m so sorry; that is my Dad.' He stopped and told me a very detailed st...

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FunStuff: Charlottesville events March 29 and beyond

The scent of a neighborhood
One of Charlottesville's oldest neighborhoods, Belmont is known as one of its most colorful places as well. Now comes photographer Peter Krebs, a recent transplant from Brooklyn who spent two years capturing that color by shooting people and places along Monticello Road from Spudnuts to Moore's Creek. With on-the street portraits and impromptu photo booths set up inside businesses (such as Spudnuts, of course), Krebs created "Monticello Road," an exhibition of about three dozen prints (including Bobby and Buck, shown here at Moore's Creek Family Restaurant). The exhibition's Friday night launch party will be just one event in a month of Krebs-convened Belmont celebrations, most taking place at The Bridge, an Avon Street-facing arts center at 209 Monticello Road. Other events include a morning-after screening of the documentary film Still Life with Donuts and, in conjunction with the upcoming "Architecture Week," an April 17 panel on savvy planning.
April 6, The Bridge, 6-8pm, free


Grill a...

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Unlawful assembly? Capitol steps arrests raise key questions

You can eat lunch on the steps of the Capitol, but you can't protest there.

Photos of gun-equipped riot officers massed at the seat of state government and arresting 30 protesters– mostly women– have sparked a debate about the official response, which may have included up to seven hours of incarceration. The March 3 Richmond incident followed passage of the controversial bill requiring a pre-abortion ultrasound exam.

"The protesters seemed to be very peaceful," says House Minority Leader David Toscano (D-Charlottesville). "When you see weapons on the grounds of the Capitol, you have to wonder whether it's proportional."

Toscano fired off a letter to the Capitol Police asking for a review of protocols, noting that "the images of armed State Police in full riot gear removing Virginia citizens from the Capitol steps is troubling to many of our constituents and potentially places Virginia unfavorably in the national spotlight....

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