Latecomers’ ball

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Latecomers’ ball

In last week’s rundown of all the restaurants around town that closed or opened in 2006, there were a few surprises. “Otto’s?” you might have been forgiven for thinking as you scanned the list. Or, “What the heck is McGrady’s Irish Pub?” Well, after the holiday hoopla, we’ve returned to our usual gossiping here at Restaurantarama. And so, voila: the stories of two brand-new eateries that just squeaked into the annals of dear departed ‘06. (Also, this update: the Woodbrook location of Amigos has reopened.)

Eire America


Pretty plucky: Scott Roth, shown here, and his partner J.D. Pfile bought Sharky’s on a whim and turned it into McGrady’s Irish Pub.

Everyone knows what an Irish pub serves: bangers and mash, fish and Guinness. To these Emerald Isle standards, on the menu of one McGrady’s, are appended a number of items that owe much more to the ethos of an Alabama sports bar than that of a Dublin pub. We speak of cheese fries, quesadillas and mozzarella sticks; we speak, dear lads, of fried Oreos. Manager Carl Lawson calls this “American club fare,” and we’re inclined to agree. He serves up all these appetizers and more during his daily happy hour. He’ll also gladly serve you one of 11 different burgers, or a wrap, cheese steak or turkey Reuben. Irish dishes fill the specials board and 24 beers on tap keep the conversation moving.

According to Lawson, owners Scott Roth and J.D. Pfile bought the Preston Ave. spot while vacationing in Charlottesville back in September (it was Sharky’s Bar and Grill then), gutted the place and opened McGrady’s on December 19. It now has raised booths, a rebuilt bar and spankin’ new pool tables and TVs. Lawson says that any dive-bar ghosts of the past have been banished from the premises. “It’s a nice place,” he promises. “You can bring a date here and have a nice dinner.” Wearing green is not required.

Otto-matic

On to the other newcomer, this one on Route 250W in Crozet. Otto’s is a no-frills burger joint in a new shopping center across from Blue Ridge Builders, opened in mid-December by Marianne Bechtle and Ann Gayhart. Ready for a wee pun? “People just kept saying ‘you “otto” open a business,’” says Bechtle, explaining their place’s moniker.

The pair are serving up burgers, salads, sandwiches, and house-made potato chips. Bechtle’s excited about chef Chris Pugh’s daily specials, too: beef tenderloin sandwiches, fresh chicken salad, roast beef panini. Oh, and there’s beer. This sounds to us like a pretension-free lunch-and-dinner spot where you order at the counter, sit outside in nice weather and watch the traffic come down the mountain. Then you go back inside for a milkshake. This is living.

That number you asked for

We know you spent New Year’s Eve alone at home, wondering what percentage of local restaurants are chain or franchise operations. And because we were out partying like supermodels with our thousands of cool friends, we were too busy to look into it for you. But better late than never, eh? Of the 330 restaurants in our Dining Guide, 59 are chains.

That includes multinational megabrands like McDonald’s as well as small regional chains like Sakura Japanese Seafood and Steakhouse, which has 16 locations including one in Hollymead Town Center. We didn’t count, for example, Sticks as a chain—it has only two locations, both in Charlottesville. Ragazzi’s is an unusual case: It started as a chain until local owner-operators took over each of its eight stores in the late 1990s. We didn’t count it as a chain, but we did count Greenberry’s, which began locally and will soon have stores in five states and Washington, D.C.

So, in other words, about 18 percent of our eateries are chains and 82 percent are completely local. Hope that satisfies your thirst for knowledge! (This information was locally compiled.)

Got some restaurant scoop? Send your tips to restaurantarama@c-ville.com or call 817-2749, Ext. 48.

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