Baldi's a wanted man

When most people return from a vacation, all they need to worry about is a heaping pile of laundry. When (and if) Jim Baldi gets home, it won’t just be dirty socks he’s dealing with.

As of Monday, December 6, it’s official: Baldi is on the lam. An Albemarle County grand jury handed him indictments for two counts of embezzlement in his absence. Accordingly, his fugitive status has gone from “whereabouts unknown; maybe on vacation” to “running from the law.”

Followers of this story will recall much Baldi drama from the past year, beginning with complaints from Belmont residents about loud noise coming from his restaurant, Bel Rio. The groans sparked heated noise ordinance debates in the city and resulted in a lowered decibel level of 55 for Belmont and two other mixed-use neighborhoods. 

In July, the venue appeared closed to hungry patrons, citing vacation time and kitchen renovations despite reports to the contrary from building owner Jeff Easter. Shortly thereafter, Baldi, who also owned an accounting business, split town. The recent indictments against him, prompted by one of his clients, Albemarle-based rug cleaning company Duraclean, are added to his growing rap sheet. 

Baldi is the subject of a $300,000 fraud lawsuit filed by Bel Rio partner Gareth Weldon and in August, the county issued a warrant for Baldi’s arrest, citing more accusations of embezzlement from Proffitt Managment and W&K Foods, which oversees the local Wood Grill Buffet. Baldi also owes about $18,000 in Federal and state taxes. 


Tasty bits

A few things happening in the restaurant biz this week: Toshi Sato, former chef at Tokyo Rose and current Japanese wedding coordinator at Keswick Hall, is planning to open his own sushi restaurant behind Monsoon. Says Sato, who’s having to adapt the space to be restaurant-ready, “There’s still a long way to go.”

Restaurantarama wants to wish Jinx Kern a happy birthday. His East Market Street pork barbeque joint, Jinx’s Pits Top, rounded its 10th anniversay this month. We wonder if Kern went hog wild to celebrate.

Richmond BizSense reports that a McAlister’s Deli franchise is in the works for late next year. Franchisee Glenn Miller recently opened his sixth soup-salad-sandwich location in Virginia. He couldn’t be reached for comment.

Good news for happy hostesses: The Local will soon offer catering. 


Vintage reviews

Restaurantarama’s been hearing some great things about Vintage, the new 50-seat restaurant and tavern at the newly renovated Inn at Willow Grove in Orange. In addition to high marks on travel sites like Trip Advisor—one diner even said it ranks “right up with there with the Inn at Little Washington”—the spot boasts a farm-to-table menu prepared by Executive Chef Jason Daniels. If you’re the type who likes to book early, Vintage is offering a four-course dinner for two (plus champagne!) for $150 on New Year’s Eve. Call (540) 672-7001 for more information.

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