“Oh dear, bidding war,” the email said.
In hindsight, the subtext should have clearer, as if to say: “People really think they might outbid me in this auction?”
The email came early in the bidding for Duner’s offering in The 2019 Charlottesville 29 Restaurant Auctions. The auction item was spectacular — a Holiday Party for 50 — and drew immediate interest as soon as it went public. In the first 24 hours, rapid back-and-forth bidding drove the leading bid all the way to $2,600, when I received an email from one of the prior bidders, raising the bid another $900: “Oh dear, bidding war,” Alice Tor wrote. “I bid $3,500.”
It remained at $3,500 until the near end, when a late entry jumped in with a $4,000 bid. Back and forth the bidding went. $4,500. Then $5,000. Then $5,500. When Tor bid $6,000, her rival finally conceded.
Yes, the Holiday Party for 50 is an extraordinary auction item, but it turns out that there was something else driving Tor to win it.
She is the widow of Duner himself.
Alice’s late husband Duner Tor launched Duner’s restaurant in 1983, in what was then a vacant building in Ivy, where Duner’s still sits. He operated the restaurant for five years, before selling it in 1988 to an employee, Bob Caldwell, who has owned and operated it ever since. While Tor credits Caldwell for building the restaurant into what it is today, it was Duner, she says, who had the initial vision. And, that made the idea of a Christmas party there so compelling.
“I had been thinking of having a Christmas party this year, and this just seemed like the perfect fit,” said Tor. After her husband passed away in 2012, Tor says, Duner’s remained a place where she could go and never feel uncomfortable, even if by herself. “I go to Duner’s a lot,” Tor said. “I thought that my connection to Duner’s would make it a meaningful place for my friends and family to attend a Christmas party.”
Congratulations, Alice, on winning a Holiday Party at the Charlottesville institution that your husband created. Your $6,000 bid is enough to provide more than 24,000 meals for the area’s hungry. Happy Holidays to you.