Uptown tastes

Uptown tastes

Just when we were getting used to all the hip new dining joints on W. Main Street (so-called Midtown), along comes someone with an idea to up the sleek, modern, cool factor on the Corner. What’s next, a martini bar in the Meadowbrook Shopping Center? Asian fusion at the Tavern? There soon may come a day, folks, when we will have to don skinny jeans and oversized shades just to feel worthy of some grub around here, but for now we’ll work on our best ironic hipster gazes in time for the late summer opening of 1517 in the old Jabberwocky space.

The “Jab” served its last round of sliders on Saturday, July 14, and as of press time, renovations to the 4,500 square-foot space were scheduled to begin in earnest on Sunday. 1517 will be a “metropolitan experience,” says owner Andy McClure, with a more upscale menu of salads, sandwiches and entrees, a line of signature martinis and cocktails and a sophisticated new interior by STOA Design+ Construction (the firm that gave us Downtown’s cooler-than-thou spots, X Lounge and Zocalo). McClure says even the Jabberwocky façade is getting a makeover to replace the ubiquitous Corner brick frontage.

Extreme makeover: Owner Andy McClure is turning Jabberwocky into 1517, where the number of hip details and menu items will make you feel positively metropolitan.

And truly, we don’t blame McClure for wanting to do something crazy like bring a more urban feel to the Corner pub crawl scene. After all, he and his brother Patrick could only have gotten a little bored owning another Corner staple, the Southern-style UVA dive bar, the 80-year old Virginian (which they purchased in 2001), as well as the other Southern-style dive bar, West Main (the former Awful Arthur’s spot, which they purchased in 2004). And though McClure says the Jabberwocky also was doing well and generating profits, he just couldn’t ignore the nagging thought that there was an opportunity to “distinguish ourselves from anything else on this side of town.”

Does the complete overhaul and new upscale bent have anything to do with Jabberwocky’s controversial no-white-t-shirt dress code and resulting uproar? Absolutely not, McClure says. And he hopes 1517 will appeal to a broader audience as well as Jab’s former clientele—just those who are willing to pay a bit more for some gourmet fare to munch on while they play pool in the back game room or cheer on the Cavs on sleek new flat screen TVs.

McClure says 1517 will continue Jabberwocky’s “great beer list,” but other than that and the TVs and pool table, the new place will have “absolutely no relationship to the Jabberwocky concept.” Really, no crusties? O.K., there will be crusties, he says, but the cheesy, rolled up slices of pizza-like heaven will also be getting a hip, new name.  Oh, and McClure says he just can’t part with the Saturday night ‘80s dance party, so that will continue when 1517 opens in about four weeks. But amateur singers take note: You’ll now have to frequent one of the 30,000 other karaoke spots in town to get your voice on. 

Grape news

We just knew there was something robust and earthy and with just a hint of oak fermenting in the mind of Charlottesville wine man Michael Shaps. After the winemaker left his longtime position with the King Family Vineyards and, along with his partners, sold Downtown wine bar Vavino (now Enoteca) to Coran Capshaw’s restaurant empire, we worried about losing one of our grapest (we couldn’t help it) local resources. But not to fear—Shaps is working on a new winery project with Philip Stafford (one of the founders of C&O and the Market Street Wineshop) in Keane. We can’t tell you much more than that while the ABC license is pending, but stay tuned for more juice on this story.

Got some restaurant scoop? Send tips to restaurantarama@c-ville.com or call 817-2749, Ext. 31.

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