Opening the pot

Bringing a restaurant into this world is no simple task. Just ask Chad Hornik, whose adventures in fending off Charlottesville’s architectural earnestness we detailed about a month ago. Hornik, the owner of soon-to-open fondue franchise The Melting Pot, hit a snag in June when the Board of Architectural Review nixed his restaurant’s proposed wall sign. City Council got involved; feelings were bruised;  principles were defended. In the end, Council voted to allow Hornik his sign, BAR-offending logo and all. Now it’s July, and the Pot is a hive of activity. We bring you these vignettes from a recent visit to the nearly completed space in the Holsinger Building: A guy vacuuming corners with great precision. One employee carrying two silver fondue pots and another with a piece of cheese on the end of a stick. A woman in a chef’s coat running through the restaurant announcing, “We have hot water!” to enthusiastic applause. Another woman, one of six trainers visiting from other Melting Pot locations to get staff up to speed, delivering a pep talk to a group of black-clad servers about to take Quiz Three.  Then there was Hornik’s official tour. He showed us the special wine room, to be filled with 375 vintages once the ABC license comes through, and the cozy, private “lovers’ lane” tables—including one with an actual curtain you can pull shut (!). He showed us the induction burners built into each table that warm your pot without burning your paws. And he showed us the extremely shiny kitchen.

So there you have it, cheeseheads. To our highly discerning eyes, the Melting Pot looks pretty swanky. You can get your melt on—with the curtain pulled tight—starting this week.

Salad days

Restaurantarama feels that we can say, without compromising our highly secret identity, that we often find ourselves Downtown at lunchtime. And so it’s not only with a professional interest that we have watched, over the last several months, as the lunch options here on the Mall have proliferated. To review: We got Eppie’s, the “fast casual” salad/chicken/pasta place. We got Vavino’s noontime nosh. We got a Downtown Five Guys, which was big news for burger lovers. Even a longtime Mall denizen, the former Sylvia’s Pizza, got a major facelift, added pasta to its lineup, and renamed itself Vita Nova.
Most recently, we gained the ability to browse a buffet of curries at Himalayan Fusion. And still the madness continues! In a couple of months, Restaurantarama and all of our Downtown brothers and sisters will—in addition to bisque at Revolutionary Soup and tacos at Atomic Burrito and spinach crepes at The Flat—have YET ANOTHER CHOICE. That
choice, friends, is green and leafy and full of vitamins. Salad Creations, a Florida-based chain, will open a store in the same building as the Melting Pot; franchisee Vaughn Haynes says he’s shooting for an opening around the first of September. The idea here is make-your-own—or at least watch and bark out ingredients while a Salad Creations employee makes it for you. You’ve got your salads, your wraps, your smoothies; you’ve got your iceberg, romaine or spring mix. Haynes, who will run the joint along with his
brother Ron, promises “humongous” portions; he also promises the franchise will multiply like rabbits in coming years. He’s already opened a Salad Creations in Northern Virginia, has his eye on a couple of other Charlottesville locations, and harbors a long-term
plan to open 50 stores around Virginia in the next seven years. Wow! If he can pull that off, we’ll buy him a steak. Er, salad.

Got some restaurant scoop? Send your tips to or call 817-2749, Ext. 48.

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