Blue Moon pop-ups feed the community

Laura Galgano, owner of Blue Moon Diner, hopes to have brunch pop-ups in the Snowing in Space Lab on West Main Street about every other month. Photo by Eze Amos Laura Galgano, owner of Blue Moon Diner, hopes to have brunch pop-ups in the Snowing in Space Lab on West Main Street about every other month. Photo by Eze Amos

Although Blue Moon Diner is closed during construction of 600 West Main, the six-story mixed-use building going up behind the restaurant, that hasn’t stopped owner Laura Galgano from serving her customers.

“I am a social being, and quite simply, [I] want to know what folks are up to, how their lives are and what new and fun things they’ve gotten to try,” Galgano says. It’s a reason why, in August and September, she and a few other Blue Moon staffers hosted Blue Moon pop-up brunches in Snowing In Space Coffee’s Space Lab at 705 W. Main St., serving a limited menu of biscuits and sausage gravy, pancakes and a variation on a grits bowl.

At the first pop-up on August 19, just a week after the deadly August 12 white supremacist rally, Galgano realized how much she missed her regulars. That day, there was “lots of hugging, and ‘Where were you?,’ ‘So glad you’re safe,’ etc.,” says Galgano. “Blue Moon has always been more than just a diner, and using the pop-ups as a way to check in with each other, and keep that notion of community at the fore, is very important to us.”

During one of the September pop-ups, Galgano saw four orders of pancakes for two people, and she stuck her head out of the kitchen to make sure there hadn’t been a mistake. But when she did, she saw two Charlottesville Derby Dames, Blue Moon regulars who’d come in to load up on the beloved diner staple after a training workout. “One of the skaters was housesitting for two other skaters, and planned to leave them each their own serving of pancakes to enjoy on their return,” says Galgano.

It’s been a treat for the Snowing In Space folks, too. “We are huge fans of Blue Moon Diner ourselves,” says the coffee spot’s manager Julia Minnerly, “and being able to offer such a community favorite was a big hit.”

Galgano says that more Blue Moon pop-up brunches will happen soon; the details haven’t been hammered out quite yet, but she hopes to have one every other month or so.

“I like that we’re just down the street, in the same neighborhood, and partnering with a newer business,” Galgano says. “These kinds of collaborations help to continue the sense of community that Blue Moon so values: We all succeed together.”

Lunch spot haven

On Wednesday, September 20, The Haven hosted its first weekly home-cooked lunch for members of the Charlottesville community, serving a meal that included a cheese plate or spinach salad, meatloaf or vegetarian lentil loaf, roasted herb potatoes, broccoli with lemon-butter sauce, homemade peach cobbler and vanilla ice cream.

About 26 people showed up for the inaugural meal, says Diana Boeke, The Haven’s director of community engagement, who notes they can accommodate up to 40 people for each lunch. Home cooks and regular shelter guests, who prepared and served the meals to customers, “were very excited and making sure they made everyone feel at home,” Boeke says, noting that for many attendees, it was their first time in the day shelter. “The big round tables that seat up to eight mean that you’ll meet new people, so even people that came alone became part of the community there.”

The menu will change each week (the September 27 lunch included salad, chili, cornbread and a strawberries and cream dessert), and Boeke says The Haven hopes to find a few other home cooks—perhaps people from other countries who could share specialty dishes—to help with the public lunches. The kitchen managers already plan and prepare breakfasts for more than 60 people, 365 days a year.

The home-cooked lunches are served from noon to 1:30pm every Wednesday and give members of the Charlottesville community, including guests of the day shelter (who are not asked to pay the $10 donation for the meal), the chance to get to know one another.

Do the Cheffle

Frank Paris III, who closed his downtown ramen and donut shop Miso Sweet in August, is now executive chef at Heirloom, the rooftop restaurant and bar at the Graduate Charlottesville hotel at 1309 W. Main St. on the UVA Corner. He’s currently working on a new menu.

C-VILLE’s At the Table columnist C. Simon Davidson reports on his Charlottesville 29 blog that after a yearlong stint cooking at the Michelin-starred Inn at Little Washington, chef Jose de Brito is back in town as chef de cuisine of Fleurie, located at 108 Third St. NE, and consultant to the Downtown Mall’s Petit Pois. The former Alley Light head chef and former chef-owner of Ciboulette, which inhabited a space in the Main Street Market building years ago, told Davidson he’s ready to cook French food again, which he says is his specialty.

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