Quite a few eyebrows were raised when the Thomas Jefferson Foundation recently announced that starting this year it will rent out the grounds of Monticello for private events. Not the house itself, but places around the grounds, including the Jefferson Library, the new Thomas Jefferson Visitor Center and Smith Education Center and the Smith Woodland Pavilion. That drunken corporate holiday parties and possible wedding receptions might soil the sanctity of our UNESCO World Heritage Site has some traditionalists around town wondering about the impact of the regime change at the Thomas Jefferson Foundation, which owns and manages the plantation. Leslie Greene Bowman took over as President of the foundation in late 2008 from Daniel P. Jordan, who’d been the chief executive there since 1985. In a report last month, The Daily Progress said that Jordan declined to comment specifically on the new rental policy, but was quoted as saying, “A new administration is in place now. And I wish them well.”
Karen Laetare is diplomatic about her decision to discontinue operations at the Café at Monticello, leaving it at “it was a wonderful learning experience.”
Now, Karen Laetare, owner of Brix Terrace Café on Pantops, tells us equally as graciously that as of May she will not continue to operate the Café at Monticello, because, simply, “It’s a new administration.”
Laetare says the decision to part ways with Monticello was mutual and that her stint “was a wonderful learning experience.” She goes on to explain that the nature of her assignment simply changed in terms of the type of food she was asked to prepare and that she wants to continue in the Brix direction. Though the Café at Monticello was never a branded Brix café, Laetare strove to provide the same level of freshly made sandwiches, paninis, salads, soups and baked goods for which Brix is known.
When her contract with Monticello is up in May, Laetare’s full attention will return to high-quality, gourmet fare Brix-style, both at the restaurant on Pantops, which serves breakfast, lunch and a full-service dinner, and through her catering business. She’s already making some changes at Brix to reinvigorate her Mediterranean-inspired menu as well as to offer less expensive meals for the recession-weary. Many of her lunch items are now available through the dinner hours, and she’s planning to add full-size versions of her Mediterranean individual pizzas. She’s also added savory waffles, a Brix spin on fish tacos and free WiFi. Technically, you can camp out all day from coffee at dawn to dessert at dusk and fulfill all your work and nutrition needs.
We named Laetare as one of our 2007 C-VILLE 20 emerging players for her entrepreneurial success in launching Brix from a funky little corner store on Route 53 in 1999 to a booming catering business and freestanding flagship shop in the Pantops Shopping Center as of 2007. Laetare has since closed the Route 53 location. Right now, she says she’s focusing on continuing to build her Brix brand and make the Pantops location successful. Still, she says her “radar is always on” for additional opportunities or locations.
If a Major League Baseball pundit were to assess Charlottesville’s roster of chefs, he might compare it to one of those baseball franchises built on players acquired from other teams. Most of Charlottesville’s top restaurants, it seems, are run by chefs who came here from somewhere else. Then
Get an after-hours glimpse of Thomas Jefferson’s iconic Monticello. This hour-long small group tour winds through the historic house to give you an intimate look at 19th century holiday traditions. Through 12/30. $45, 5:30pm. Monticello, 931 Thomas Jefferson Pkwy. 984-9800.
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Get your blood pumping and work off those last lingering Thanksgiving calories with a brisk run at the Holiday Classic 5K. This annual course, beginning at the East Walk of Monticello and ending at the Thomas Jefferson Vistor Center, supports trail preservation. The under-12 crowd can get in on
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If your inner Cindy Lou Who or Charlie Brown has you feeling down about an overly commercialized Christmas, try charitable shopping on for size. Browse a variety of nonprofit booths at the third annual Alternative Gift Fair and make a donation in a loved one’s name. Past participants have
The closure of specialty seafood seller Anderson’s Carriage Food House last month probably didn’t come as a surprise to anyone who’d been in the store over the past several years. It didn’t take an engineer to see the building was in a state of severe disrepair. But there were things you wanted
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Woolen Mills barcade Firefly makes its debut It’s been a long three months for Mark Weber and Ben Quade, the masterminds behind Charlottesville’s newest dinner-and-drinks spot. Weber bought the two-story Woolly Mammoth space at the corner of Market Street and Meade Avenue in July of this year,
One loves to cook, the other loves to bake. It was a match made in heaven—or, in culinary school. Patrick Evans and Jason Becton met at the International Culinary Center in New York in 2007, just before graduation. Seven years, a marriage, and two kids later, they’re doing something they’ve
Beauty queens, marching bands and Santa himself herald the fast-approaching holiday season at the sixth annual Wells Fargo Holiday Heritage Parade. This family event might be jumping the gun the weekend before Thanksgiving, but is it really ever too early for old-fashioned cheer? Saturday
Close-Hart keeps big plans ‘quiet for now’ Melissa Close-Hart has been gathering awards as head chef at Palladio restaurant in Barboursville for the past 14 years, so news that she’s striking out on her own has the local food world buzzing. “I was ready for a new challenge or adventure,” said
Be the first to welcome a new nonprofit to the area at the launch party for Apprenticeship Connections. Part of the UVA Darden iLab Incubator Program, this start-up organization matches underemployed young adults with local entrepreneurs to introduce a new generation to traditional skills from
Everything feels the same. You walk across the City Market parking lot. You spy the old black South Street sign on the building across the way. You open the door to the somewhat dreary anteroom next to South Street Brewery. You open the next door, this one to your trusty old neighborhood
In these parts, fall is wedding season. And, if it’s wedding season, that means it’s anniversary season, too. Those of us who once had the good fortune of being married in Charlottesville’s most pleasant season now have the good fortune of celebrating in it. In our 13th year of marriage, my
Apples are iconic in our culture; they have been for years. As American as apple pie. The apple of my eye. An apple a day keeps the doctor away. How ’bout them apples? Comparing apples and oranges. Colonists in the 17th and 18th centuries drank hard cider like water (literally—the water wasn’t
The guys at JM Stock Provisions don’t seem to be able to sit still, and now their restlessness is expanding into Richmond. Since Matt Greene and James Lum opened their whole animal butcher shop on West Main Street last October, they’ve added lamb to their butchery menu and beer and wine to
Grab some Thanksgiving inspiration at a cook-off geared for greens. Whether you’re whipping out grandma’s trusty recipe or testing the waters with something new, crafty cooks can doctor up this Southern staple to take home the collard crown. Saturday 11/8. Free, 3pm. Jefferson School African
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