Fry's Spring Service Station takes shape

Fry's Spring Service Station takes shape
First the bad news, Buddhist Biker Bar & Grille on Elliewood Avenue has closed.  No word yet on new tenants—we’re just heartened to hear that Charlottesville Comedy Roundtable’s monthly Buddhist gigs have found a new venue at the 12th Street Taphouse. As for the rest of it, neighbors The Biltmore and Coup DeVille’s can certainly serve up similarly tasty burgers, cheap beer and Corner charm and likely would love the overflow. Elliewood has had quite a chaotic year with The Biltmore changing ownership and Martha’s Café, Sublime and Zydeco closing in 2009 and being replaced by Cantina, an outpost of Marco & Luca (coming soon) and Sushi Love, respectively. Kudos to newbie Para Coffee and old-timer Take It Away Café for keeping up during the recession. 

Robert Sawrey, co-owner of Fry’s Spring Station, and its general manager, Caroline Oliveira, stand outside the restaurant, which will seat approximately 100 people inside and will include some patio seating, too.

Now the good news. After renovations over the holidays, La Taza Coffeehouse in Belmont will reopen soon as Roast, “a gourmet eatery and espresso bar.” As of press time, Roast’s debut scheduled for Wednesday, January 20, was delayed due to last-minute construction issues. When it opens, Roast will boast the same worldly and socially responsible beans as La Taza, plus an expanded menu of sandwiches on bread baked fresh daily, salads and soup.  
Also, Fry’s Spring Service Station at 2115 Jefferson Park Avenue is close to becoming the restaurant that’s been rumored to be going in there for almost a year now. Well, maybe not the restaurant. At one time, former Just Curry owner and now Jefferson Theater Restaurant executive chef Alex George was involved in the project and even applied for an ABC mixed beverage license for the location over the summer. Shortly after the Jefferson Theater Restaurant opened in December, however, George told us he was no longer involved in the Fry’s Spring venture. 
All the while, property owner Terry Hindermann, along with architect Dave Ackerman of Wolf Ackerman Design, have been negotiating renovations to the property with the city’s Board of Architectural Review—a notoriously prolonged process even when a site is not listed on the Virginia Landmarks Register as the 70-year-old gas station is (with its unique blend of Spanish, Jeffersonian and Art Deco architecture). With the adaptive reuse nearing completion, a new tenant has emerged. Robert Sawrey and his partner, Steve Parry, owners of the Downtown Grille on Main Street, are planning to serve individual pizzas, pastas, entrees and salads under the name Fry’s Spring Station. The concept is similar to that of two other pizza restaurants the partners’ restaurant group owns in Lynchburg and Richmond called Waterstone and Sette, respectively. Both were also built out within historic buildings, says Sawrey. 
Sawrey says he and his partner started pursuing the opportunity in September because, “We saw the space and met the landlords and saw how aggressively they were renovating the property and how much care they were taking.” 
Fry’s Spring Station will be a full-service outfit with a wine list of 30 or so Italian labels plus draft beer (no bottles). Some of those taps will be outfitted with local brews and a few from Sawrey and Perry’s Lynchburg brewery, Jefferson Street Brewery. 
Sawrey says interior renovations should be completed in time for a late March opening.