Smoked food cart returns to downtown

Justin van der Linde (right), owner of Smoked BBQ Co. food cart and Smoked Kitchen and Tap in Crozet, says requests from customers to bring his barbecue back to the Downtown Mall solidified his decision to return. Photo by Rammelkamp Foto Justin van der Linde (right), owner of Smoked BBQ Co. food cart and Smoked Kitchen and Tap in Crozet, says requests from customers to bring his barbecue back to the Downtown Mall solidified his decision to return. Photo by Rammelkamp Foto

Remember how sad you were in August, when the Smoked BBQ Co. food cart ran out of ’cue on its last day on the mall, and how you had to wait until December to eat it again, after a drive to Smoked Kitchen and Tap in Crozet?

Well, you can forget all about that, because Smoked is returning to the Downtown Mall. I repeat: Smoked is returning to the Downtown Mall.

Starting the first week in April, the Smoked cart will settle back into its usual spot near the glass elevator on the far end of the mall and again dish up its beloved sandwiches, pulled pork and other barbecue specials on weekdays, says Smoked owner Justin van der Linde.

Pitmaster van der Linde and his sous chef, Kent Morris, have spent the past few months “getting things stabilized” at Smoked Kitchen and Tap, located at 2025 Library Way in Crozet’s Piedmont Place building.

Once the restaurant was up and running, the decision to return the Smoked cart to the mall was an easy one for van der Linde. He says customers kept requesting they bring the cart back, and the Smoked crew wanted to keep a presence in the city.

Food hall fantasy

The Yard—a 10,000-square-foot food hall and meeting area with patios, benches, Wi-Fi and restaurants aplenty—is being planned for 5th Street Station. “Charlottesville has such a foodie culture—a great sense of place, good food and places for people to gather,” and The Yard will embrace that, says Jeff Garrison, a partner in the 5th Street Station property who is spearheading the project. He notes it’ll be similar to Atlanta’s Krog Street Market, one of the country’s best-known food halls. Garrison says they’re considering some Charlottesville-based food truck-type concepts, plus concepts from Richmond’s Carytown and elsewhere, but nothing is official. Garrison says The Yard will be the “finishing touch” to the 5th Street Station complex, and will open next to Alamo Drafthouse Cinema in late summer.

So long, Nude Fude

Nude Fude, the restaurant that served fast farm-to-table food at 2800 Hydraulic Rd., closed its doors following service on Saturday, March 4, after a little less than two years of service. Owners Ken and Dani Notari used sustainable, locally sourced ingredients to create their dishes. “We are tremendously proud of the effort we put into providing real, sustainable, nourishing and tasty food to a broader audience at reasonable prices and expand it beyond the domain of the white tablecloth [farm-to-table] restaurants,” says Ken. “It takes incredible effort and commitment and we were fortunate to have such awesome partners in local farmers, suppliers and artisan providers—that made the challenge fun!,” he continued, adding that while Nude Fude “developed a considerable following, slower than expected growth forced us to focus on our higher priorities. As much as we’ve enjoyed being a part of the shift in food culture, our family is the most important thing to us.”

But the Notaris aren’t saying goodbye to local food forever—they’ll reengage at some point, says Ken. “We do believe more people are realizing the benefits to eating (and operating a restaurant) this way to human health, the natural world and our communities. Eventually as more people continue to champion the move to clean food, the demand will tip and drive it mainstream. It is coming!”

Green machine

For the second year in a row, Wild Wolf Brewing Company has been named the Virginia Green Brewery of the Year by the Virginia Green Travel Alliance. The brewery’s practices include sending its spent grain to a local beef farm to be used as cattle feed and using cans rather than bottles. Cans are made of about 90 percent recycled materials and weigh less than bottles, which saves on shipping fuel, and they require less cardboard packing material.

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