Fill 'er up


While refueling your car seems to get more expensive by the day, refueling your body at a local gas station is easy on the wallet and tasty, too.

Here’s the what and where on great Charlottesville gas station food:

Peach and blackberry fillings ooze from under the flaky crust of the daily cobblers at Brown’s gas station in the former Ston-ey’s space on Avon. The potato wedges are coated with a fine veil of secret fried chicken seasoning, and they’ll fry whiting fillets to order.

The collards at the Preston Avenue Shell are southern-tender, porky, and the perfect foil to the extra-creamy mac-n-cheese and mashed potatoes.

The Birdwood sandwich at the area’s “gourmet-to-go” markets at Tiger Fuel—Mill Creek and Bellair—boasts cracked pepper-seasoned smoked turkey, pepper jack, avocado, lettuce, banana peppers and herb mayo on French bread.—Meredith Barnes

Try the fried chicken at the Preston Avenue Shell while you fill up.

Get it while it’s hot

Why did the chicken cross the road? Probably to get to the Preston Avenue Shell station to become what many call our town’s best fried chicken. We’ve heard enough raves about this unlikely fried food mecca that we just had to learn the trick to the crispy on the outside, juicy on the inside, finger-licking goodness.

Station owner Wes Jones got his chicken recipe from a secret source (his mouth might have been full of lunch from the station, but his lips were sealed) and has kept it the same for all 11 years that the food counter’s been open. Lindsay Feggans, Jones’ cook (who’s been frying up the breasts, legs, wings and thighs fresh every day for three years), was a bit more forthcoming.

“The secret is using fresh grease and lots of seasoning salt,” shared Feggans. He dips each piece of chicken into an egg wash and then into the seasoned breading before frying them in a big kettle filled with his fresh grease of choice—peanut oil. The chicken is always hot and always cheap (buy three pieces for $4.49), but Monday night’s special of two pieces of chicken with one side (which include down home delights like mac-n-cheese, green beans with bacon, mashed potatoes, potato wedges, and apple cobbler), a biscuit and a 16 ounce drink for $3.99 takes the sting out of fueling up on gas too.—Megan Headley

Full-service stations

Gas may no longer be on the menu at Fry’s Spring Station or Zinc, but fueling up on delicious food at these stations-turned-restaurants is still a full-service proposition. At Fry’s Spring Station, enjoy a beer and some fire-roasted pizza at the indoor/outdoor bar that was the service station’s roll-up garage door for the 70 years it was in the biz.

At Zinc, belly up to the central bar or grab a seat on the courtyard patio for a cocktail and some of Executive Chef Justin Hershey’s seasonally-driven, locally-sourced fare, which is far more appealing than pumping gas.

Fill 'er up!


 The recent revision to Belmont’s noise ordinance may have lowered the legal decibel level (to 55, that is), but things in the neighborhood are still heating up. Bel Rio, the food and music venue credited with kicking off the noise debate, could get a new tenant.

Cassis is just one of the options for budding restaurant owners. But get your offer in quick: Co-owner Tim Burgess says there are currently three interested parties.

The building’s owner, Jeff Easter, says that C&O owner Dave Simpson, a onetime Bel Rio partner, and Gareth Weldon, who remains a partner of Bel Rio LLC, paid the August rent for the site that was abruptly shuttered last month when Bel Rio owner Jim Baldi disappeared, trailing lawsuits and legal charges behind him. Both Simpson and Weldon are signers of the lease. Now, in Baldi’s (unexplained) absence, they’re searching for subletters.

While calls to Simpson were not returned, Easter says six parties have expressed interest in the space so far. “Mostly on the restaurant side of things,” he says, noting that keeping the space as a restaurant is reasonable, given the current set-up.

Of those six, the leading contender wants to turn the venue into a family-friendly pizza place. “If it’s going to be a restaurant,” Easter says, “that’s what I’d want it to be,” adding that it would be good for the neighborhood. About the most noise you can expect from a pizza joint is the satisfied “mmms” to be heard when people smack their lips around a fresh slice. That, and maybe a few tunes coming out of the radio in the kitchen. And, at any rate, Easter figures a pizza place would wrap up business by 11pm. That ought to make the neighbors smile.

Over at the Downtown spot once occupied by Cassis, which closed its doors in April, site co-owner Tim Burgess says he and business partner Vincent Derquennes currently have three parties interested in opening a restaurant in that Water Street location. The duo—who also own and operate Bizou and Bang!—had set a deadline of August 1 before they would turn the venue into an event space themselves. But, they relaxed that deadine because, says Burgess, “with three parties interested, I wanted to give them every opportunity.”

Brew news

Cheers to this, readers: The Brew Ridge Trail, the award-winning collection of breweries in Nelson and Albemarle counties, is adding one more to the roster. Wild Wolf Brewing Company, from the mother-son team of Mary and Danny Wolf, will open a Nellysford home-brew shop next month. The company’s own pub space won’t be ready for another two years, but the shop will offer beer and winemaking supplies, brewing demos and classes at its temporary spot at 2773A Rockfish Valley Hwy.