By Jenny Gardiner
The recent summer heat seems to demand curative sweets to help temper the constant weather discomforts. Luckily, sugary treats (and more!) are featured on the menu at two new Charlottesville eateries opening this week.
If you’re like Homer Simpson (and who isn’t?), you probably live for your next delicious donut. Fortunately, Sugar Shack has arrived on West Main Street with everything from maple bacon to Samoas—yes, like the Girl Scout cookie—donuts. One Sugar Shack location even offers up a fried chicken donut.
“The kitchen has the freedom to make whatever they want,” says manager Virginia Williams, adding that she “whipped up a pink rosé rose glaze” in honor of “The Bachelorette” episode that filmed recently at the chain’s Richmond flagship.
Other innovative flavors include Baby Ruth, Fruit Loops and Party Time (covered in M&Ms, sprinkles and Oreos), plus many vegan options. Everything is made fresh, without preservatives.
The restaurant offers a free donut daily via its Facebook page, provided you’re willing to show up with, say, your latest purchase from Amazon or wearing white sneakers. Fair warning: You could even be asked to sing or dance for that donut.
And fittingly, at the home of the former Spudnuts Donut shop comes another sweet surrender, in the form of Mas Tapas founder Tomas Rahal’s much anticipated Quality Pie.
Rahal—with the help of friends in the food community—gutted the building and gave it a bright, cheery interior with apple-green walls featuring prints from former Charlottesville artist Steve Keene, and cherry-red stools that once graced the old Woolworth’s lunch counter downtown.
Rahal says he had been eyeing the Spudnuts site for a decade.
“I wanted to do a daytime coffee and bake shop, and I wanted to stay in Belmont,” he says. “I love the neighborhood, and all of our customers. The Spudnuts building was iconic and I hope Quality Pie becomes iconic as well.”
With his new restaurant, Rahal plans to continue collaborating with schools to promote the farm-to-table approach to eating.
“We’ve got a great garden here and will work with the City Schoolyard Project like we did at Mas, and we’re working with Clark Elementary,” he says. The garden has already yielded beets, chard, carrots, Romaine lettuce and herbs, all of which will be used in the restaurant.
Sweets might rule at both restaurants, but savory will vie for attention as well. Tucked inside Sugar Shack is a separate counter for the restaurant’s sister enterprise, Luther Burger, named after the late R&B singer Luther Vandross’ substitution of a donut for a hamburger bun. Diners will have the option of eating their burger sandwiched between two glazed donut halves, or settling for a mainstream potato—or even a lettuce—bun. Besides beef and turkey patties, the restaurant will offer crab and vegan patties, along with vegan cheese and sauces.
And the rotating menu at Quality Pie will include sweet and savory pies (don’t miss the blueberry!), artisanal sourdough bread and biscuits, including “our own version of a signature dish with rye and Iberico ham,” Rahal says.
They’ll also offer a variety of “fun sandwiches, including an octopus bahn mi, in which you will get some of the trademark Spanish flair with a slightly different format,” he says.
In addition, there will be healthy lunches and grain bowls, and, as soon as they get their ABC license, beer, wine and cider “to sit outside on a beautiful day by the garden and relax.”
Both restaurants opened Monday, July 2. Sugar Shack’s hours are 7am-2pm opening week, with hours extended to 6am-6pm daily afterward. Quality Pie is open 7am-8pm weekdays and 10am-3pm on Saturday and Sunday.
Zzaam! Fresh Korean Grill on Emmet Street near Barracks Road has shuttered its doors with little fanfare. A notice on the restaurant’s Facebook page announced the closing, effective May 31, to the dismay of hundreds of customers who posted their disappointment on the store’s homepage. “This is really depressing,” said Jonathan Morataya. “This place got me by some of my toughest economic times while enrolled at UVA, and I was introduced to many Korean-themed dishes. Zzaam Charlottesville, you will be missed.”