Blue Christmas: Diner not ready to reopen

Six Hundred West Main, an apartment complex being constructed behind Blue Moon Diner, is also running behind schedule. Courtesy of Six Hundred West Main Six Hundred West Main, an apartment complex being constructed behind Blue Moon Diner, is also running behind schedule. Courtesy of Six Hundred West Main

When we last heard from the owner of Blue Moon Diner in May, she said she was closing the West Main Street institution for renovations until early 2018. Now, as the new year is upon us, Laura Galgano says it could be fall before the lights come back on at the beloved home of the huevos bluemoonos.

Not surprisingly, diner regulars are upset.

“The diner is Charlottesville’s living room,” says Dolly Joseph, who has worked as a hostess during weekend brunch at Blue Moon for the past couple years. When her mom came to town last week, the former employee says they talked about how much they missed Blue Moon for its affordable food and good company. “The diner was where I knew I could always find a familiar face,” she adds.

Joseph, Galgano and Ellen Krag run a nonprofit called Building Experiences, and Joseph says the diner is their home base for mentoring young adults. While Rapture on the Downtown Mall has served them well as a temporary location, the team is eager to go back home, she says.

“All my favorite people are waiting for the diner to open again so we can see each other for Wednesdays with Jim Waive, or a weekend brunch or a study group with BE,” says Joseph.

Likewise, local country-blues-rock musician Susan Munson says she misses her regular gigs at the diner.

“I was so bummed when it closed,” Munson says. “I don’t play as much now during the week, just mainly on the weekends. It actually became one of my favorite places to play, even though it was a tight fit.”

Galgano, who has held several Blue Moon pop-up brunches since the diner closed, says its reopening is “somewhat” dependent on the construction of a six-story mixed-use apartment complex going up behind it, which is also taking longer than expected.

“We have had several approval delays that, quite frankly, are the boring parts of complex development,” says developer Jeff Levien. His team anticipates that construction on the project called Six Hundred West Main will begin next spring, and will be completed by mid-2019.

The apartment complex “merges two historically significant street-front buildings with new construction in the form of a mixed-use, distinctly modern, luxury rental residence,” Levien says in a press release. “It is being purposefully integrated into the most vital, diverse and connected neighborhood in Charlottesville.”

The 65,000-square-foot building will have 53 studio, one- and two-bedroom spaces for rent, with private terraces, eight-foot windows, high ceilings and a “meditative courtyard,” according to the release. It’ll also have retail spaces, and Levien says he may lease some offices above Blue Moon.

The developer describes his project as “upscale, without having lost its edge,” and says it’s the “creative result of the old economy raising itself up with new favor to become an urbane playground.”

He compares it to composing a song, where the team is the band and the music is the building they’ve created.

Says Levien’s wife, Ivy, who’s had a hand in designing the project, “Is it a little rock ‘n’ roll? Definitely. But it’s where rock ‘n’ roll goes to kick back.”

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