Juicy fruit


The Kiki’s cat is out of the bag—yes, it has been sold by Jeannie Brown to her former partner, Michael Fitzgerald. The latter helped launch the swank spot for late-night lounging and sipping of naturally fruity cocktails back in 2005, but he left the business after about six months and has spent the last few years taking long vacations, managing and bartending at Il Cane Pazzo (at the former L’Avventura space), and “annoying my wife,” he says. Fitzgerald first re-emerged in the restaurant ownership scene late last year, when he partnered with Chas Webster and John Adamson to purchase Atomic Burrito (which, as of press time, is about to reopen as an Asian noodle bar and grill called The Box). And then when Kiki came calling, Fitzgerald and his wife, Relana, a professor and researcher at UVA Medical School, had to jump on it. “It was my first foray into the restaurant business,” says Fitzgerald. “I physically helped build this bar,” he adds, patting the brushed aluminum top.

When the opportunity came to purchase Kiki, Michael Fitzgerald and his wife, Relana, had to jump on it. No word on whether their dog Bridget had any opinion on the matter.

Kiki has been quite ripe (no pun intended) for gossip lately. You may recall that the departure of Andreas Gaynor, who operated a juice bar and lunch spot by day out of the restaurant, caused a bit of a stir last November. Then, late night revelers noticed that Kiki had gone dark about a week ago, and rumors began flying. When the chatter got a bit too personal on the blog cvillain.com, Fitzgerald—who says that some pretty unsavory comments were made about him by some conveniently anonymous bloggers—decided to chime in, end the speculation and announce the purchase.

As for what kind of food Fitzgerald will offer, well, he’s still keeping mum about that, but does offer that the “food will be quite a focus.” And yes, the cocktails will be fun and crazy, too—Fitzgerald says that at least one of Kiki’s bartenders will be staying on. With all the usual caveats, look for the new place to open by the end of March.


Restaurantarama has a bit of an ego—we have this sense (totally unsubstantiated, of course) that this column is the first page that you C-VILLE readers turn to when you pick up each Tuesday’s edition. And that y’all pour over every witty and informative word to feed your need for restaurant dope. So it was quite shocking to discover that occasionally, the attention of our own staff wanders. Last week, an incorrect photo caption was added to our story about Martha’s Café’s new full-service bar and late-night hours. The caption suggested that Martha’s will serve only beer and wine, when in fact, as the column points out, they already are doing that. The news is that Martha’s is getting ready to offer up all the hard stuff, too. Sincere regrets to owners Mike and Carrie Payne for the confusion. For the love of God, people, you can get your liquor at Martha’s!

Chain of fools

Speaking of our bruised ego—apparently, the folks at NBC29.com have been skimming our column, too. In a piece entitled “Restaurant Reality Check” posted on the site last week, the writer suggested that Central Virginia is suffering from a lack of chain restaurants and that many of you feel starved being sans Olive Garden. Seriously?  Do the four long pages of dining listings in our paper not satiate?  According to the article, the biggest news in nosh may be the pending addition of a Richmond-based chain Topeka Steakhouse to Pantops. Now, we have nothing against Topeka, but there are, like, lots of tasty places to eat around here—places whose owners, chefs and, for that matter, food, are locally grown. Nobody’s starving. But if chains and franchises are your thing, well, we understand that too—there’s something comforting in knowing that the fare is predictable from Fresno to Fluvanna. The point is, there’s plenty of that here, too. We ask you—does Ruby Tuesday not count?

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