Flash Forward: The Return of Lampo

by Charlottesville29

Remember this? (Photo by Tom McGovern.)

Reports of Lampo’s demise are greatly exaggerated.

When the beloved Belmont pizzeria closed to launch a takeout outpost in IX Art Park, some wondered if the original Lampo would ever open again. Those worries heightened this year when word spread that the property on which Lampo sits was for sale. Some said Lampo was done.

But, there’s good news. Very good news. As longtime tenants of the property, Lampo’s owners have now bought it, assuring the restaurant’s presence in Charlottesville for years to come. Lampo has not offered on-premises dining since March 2020, devoting the last 25 months to strict contactless takeout service, to avoid spreading COVID-19. But soon, the OG Lampo will be back.

Same as it Ever Was

What can people expect when Lampo reopens? Same as it ever was, says co-owner Andrew Cole. “We want Lampo to feel much as it did when you were last there two years ago,” said Cole. Same pizza, same menu, same setting. And, perhaps best of all, same outlet for chef creativity: the specials menu, something that regulars have dearly missed. “We’re very, very eager to have that outlet again,” said Cole. “Initially you can expect us to keep it simple with some old favorites, but as we settle in and ramp back up, the specials menu will be where we get to really spice it up and share the dishes we’ve been working on during quarantine.”

Cole says that the re-opening has been a long time coming:

To say the last two years have been an emotional rollercoaster is grossly over simplifying things. We went from shuttering the doors on two restaurants, and eventually losing one altogether, to pivoting to a completely different business model at Lampo and getting wrapped up in the excitement and challenges that come with essentially starting a whole new business. We were beyond fortunate with how the community embraced the concept of Lampo takeout, and quickly found ourselves overwhelmed with trying to fulfill the demands of operating a takeout business in a restaurant that was only set up to be a dine in establishment. This of course led to Lampo as you currently know it at IX Art Park. We’ve been so incredibly lucky in how we’ve been able to turn the necessary changes wrought by the pandemic into a way to maintain and eventually grow the business, and the fact that it also provided us with an outlet and distraction during this time was honestly a blessing.

Lampo2Go will continue to operate for takeout 7 days a week, while the OG Lampo will be dine-in only, and they can’t wait to see the faces they’ve missed. “It’s just not the same without customer interaction,” said co-owner Loren Mendosa. “It’ll be good to see everyone again, finally feel normal again.” Cole agrees. “The people who filled the restaurant on a regular basis and became good friends I missed tremendously,” said Cole. “With reopening Lampo, I’m most excited about reconnecting with all those old faces and hopefully some new ones as well.”

Lampo will reopen this summer. Stay tuned for an opening date.