La Taza owner Melissa Easter has recently struggled with a big decision: Should she close her restaurant of the past 13 years or expand? Ultimately she decided it was time for a lifestyle change, and she and her ex-husband, Jeff, sold the restaurant and building to new owners.
“I’ve been thinking about it for a while,” says Easter. “My daughter is having a baby in September and I was just ready.”
“The new owner is pretty cool” and seems to be embracing the area, says Easter, adding that the restaurant will likely become a breakfast, lunch, and dinner spot. “I’m still a Belmont neighbor, and the first thing I asked is ‘will there be coffee?’ I don’t think it’s going to change a lot but I think they want to do their own thing. They like that it’s a community seat, and I believe they’ll make it better,” says Easter. She adds that the new restaurant will likely take over the Cabinet Solutions space, next door to La Taza, as well, ultimately expanding the venue.
Gilie Garth, a server for the past two years, says she’ll forever be grateful for how LaTaza and Easter helped her get back on her feet when she was struggling.
“I was pretty devastated to hear it was closing because this place has a great deal of meaning to me. I’m a drug addict in recovery from addiction. I got clean a little over three years ago, and Melissa Easter, my employer and beloved friend, gave me the opportunity to work again as a server at the age of 47. It has enabled me to become financially independent and has been a huge boost to my self-esteem,” says Garth. “The people here, both employees and customers, are family to me. It’s going to be a great loss for the community and a huge personal loss to me.”
Garth plans to return to her nursing career by the end of the year, but employment at La Taza was a great stepping stone for her to get her life back together.
La Taza’s last day will be September 16, and Easter says the new owners plan to re-open October 1.
Let’s do lunch
While The Haven regularly provides meals to community members facing homelessness, they will once again also offer home-cooked meals in a weekly pop-up café every Wednesday from noon until 1:30pm, starting September 12. The three-course meals—there are always vegetarian and carnivore options—include a beverage and are available with a suggested donation of $10, which benefits The Haven.
Eat food, do good
Meals on Wheels of Charlottesville/Albemarle will hold its annual food and beverage tasting event, Taste This!, from 5:30-8:30pm, Tuesday, September 18, at the Boar’s Head Resort pavilion. The event is the primary fundraiser for the organization, which provides homebound neighbors with food and social contact, and will feature food from a cornucopia of local restaurants and food purveyors, including Chimm, Ivy Inn, Little Star, Junction, Oakhart Social, Orzo Kitchen & Wine Bar, Prime 109, Common House, PVCC Culinary School, Travinia Italian Kitchen, Vivace, and, of course, the Boar’s Head. There will also be cheese tastings from Caromont Farm and pastry snacks from Iron Paffles & Coffee and MarieBette Café & Bakery. And to drink? Beverages from Starr Hill Brewery, wine from Market Street Wine, cold brew and hot coffee from Grit Coffee. There will also be a cash bar available.
Jazz group Bob Bennetta & Friends will provide music, and there will be a silent auction as well. Tickets are $75 per person and can be purchased at cvilletastethis.com or by calling 293-4364.