The Charlottesville 29

If there were just 29 restaurants in Charlottesville, what would be the ideal 29?

Category: News

“Better Together”: Charlottesville’s Champion Brewing Company and Reason Beer to Merge

One makes Five Pillars Ale. The other makes Collaboration 29. Now, two of Charlottesville’s most acclaimed breweries, each loyal supporters of the community, are merging. Champion Brewing Company and Reason Beer.

While both parties expect the merger to bring behind-the-scenes efficiencies, little will change for fans of their beer, they say. Reason’s Jeff Raileanu becomes Champion’s CFO. Champion’s operations will move from Woolen Mills to Reason’s headquarters on Seminole Trail. And, the breweries will enjoy improved buying, production, and marketing power. All the while, each brewery will keep making its same flagship beers, with the same brewers, recipes, and staff as before. Tap room locations also remain unchanged.

Among the ties that bind the two breweries is a love of Charlottesville. Champion’s founder and two Reason co-founders were all born at the old Martha Jefferson hospital in downtown Charlottesville. With Charlottesville in their blood, they are active in local philanthropy and share a drive to preserve locally-owned breweries. “With long-time Charlottesville connections and a real love for this community, the culture fit between Reason and Champion made sense,” said Raileanu. “It’s an exciting opportunity for two like-minded local companies to combine to be better together.”

The best news for local beer fans may be stability, particularly in an industry where over-saturation, consolidation, and COVID-19 have all threatened local breweries’ existence. With Champion launched in 2012 and Reason in 2017, the breweries’ founders hope that joining forces will mean they are here to stay. “It’s a path for long term stability for both local brands,” Champion founder Hunter Smith said. Raileanu agrees. “We’re nearing our five-year anniversary and it’s almost ten years for Champion,” he said. “By combining and streamlining our operations, we’re setting up to make the next five years even better.”

The deal will close in late November.


Diamond in the Sky: Pop-up Sandwiches at Little Star

Give the people what they want. And, the people want sandwiches.

That seems to be the mantra behind the new takeout menu at Little Star.

For some restaurants, the shift to the Culture of Takeout was a challenge. Not all foods and experiences translate well to disposable containers.

One food type made for takeout, though, are sandwiches, and Little Star chef and co-owner Ryan Collins is a sandwich fiend. Collins’ special affinity for a classic Italian sub, in fact, was a spark behind his interest in launching a sandwich shop out of Little Star. While Charlottesville has a few Italian sub riffs that Collins enjoys, nothing, he says, can scratch the itch like the original.

For an original, perhaps the most distinguishing factor is bread. There is great bread all over Charlottesville, but not much, if any, of the signature style for subs at Italian delis: hoagies with a crunchy exterior and soft, squishy exterior. For that, Collins turned of course to Charlottesville’s king of bread, Gerry Newman, at Little Star’s neighbor Albemarle Baking Company. Newman had already collaborated with Collins on pan estrella for Little Star’s instant classic pan tomate. Now, Newman’s bakery has fine-tuned a bread just for Little Star’s new sandwich program. “We listened to what Ryan was looking for and were always open to the changes necessary to improve the crust, crumb, and taste for the sandwich he had in mind,” said Newman. “We landed on a seeded semolina loaf that can hold an incredible Italian sandwich.”

Little Star’s Italians come either mild or spicy. The mild is the Fiat: mortadella, mild salami, marinated tomato, lettuce, onion, aged pecorino, and house dressing on ABC semolina Italian loaf. The spicy, the Alfa Spider, replaces mild salami with spicy.

The Bugatti is like the love child of a French Dip and classic pork and broccoli rabe. Braised beef cheeks, broccoli, aged pecorino, and hot peppers are stuffed into an ABC semolina loaf with a side of beef jus.

The Meep Meep is roasted cauliflower, Romesco, apricot mostarda, arugula, and onion, again on the custom ABC semolina Italian loaf.

Daily soups will change often. Salads include a Caesar and a salad of house made mozzarella.

Opening tomorrow, January 13, Little Star’s takeout sandwich shop will operate Wednesday-Saturday, 11:30 am – 7:30 pm. Meanwhile, Little Star’s regular menu will remain available for on premises dining  Thursday through Saturday.

Order takeout sandwiches here.

Dairy Market Adds Moo Thru

Though the pandemic has delayed the opening of Dairy Market, it has not prevented the budding market hall on Preston Avenue from building an impressive list of tenants. The latest addition to go public is the ice cream parlor Moo Thru.

Founded in 2010 by a multi-generational dairy farming family, Moo Thru churns ice cream from the milk of cows raised just two miles from the store, in Remington, Virginia. The ice cream parlor’s location sixty miles North of Charlottesville has made it a bit too remote for destination dining, but a must-stop for many drivers travelling along 29N. Now, Charlottesville residents will not have to leave the city to enjoy Moo Thru’s gourmet ice cream.

Handmade, locally sourced ice cream connects Dairy Market with its origins. In the 1930s, after architect Elmer Burruss designed and built the historic Monticello Dairy building where the Dairy Market will sit, it became popular in part for the parlor selling ice cream made from the dairy market’s milk.

Whet your appetite here.

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