After 26 years, St. Maarten Café closes

St. Maarten Cafe on the Corner closed abruptly after 26 years.

News about the sudden closing of St. Maarten Café on the Corner, the place with the Buffett vibe (Jimmy, not Warren) long before Cheeseburger in Paradise, spread like wildfire on social media websites. "I was totally overloaded," says Lisa Roland, wife of owner Jim Roland, after a reporter called January 30 to verify the news. "My computer is going crazy, my phone is ringing. But, yes, St. Maarten Café is closed." A Friends of St. Maarten Café Facebook group immediately grabbed 200 members– over 350 by 6pm on the day this news was reported at– and some of those commenting describe bursting into tears at hearing the news. Long-time patron Marianne Votaw, who says she first started visiting the restaurant in 1985, the year it opened, says she plans to organize a vigil outside the building on Tuesday night. — David McNair, The Hook


The Tavern closes; building's fate to be determined

The Tavern, managed by Shelly Gordon (pictured) shut its doors for good on Christmas Eve. Photo by Eric Kelley, C-ville

During his 30 years as owner and manager of The Tavern, Shelly Gordon served three types of people at his lodge-style, UVA-bedazzled diner: students, tourists, and townspeople. Last week, when I stopped in for my final Tavern breakfast—pecan pancakes, salty bacon, a gallon of coffee—Gordon’s crowd seemed largely unchanged. I ran into a C-VILLE photographer and asked if he was on assignment, only to hear that he came because the joint was closing. A classmate I hadn’t seen in six years told me she’d moved back to Charlottesville for graduate school, and used to eat at The Tavern as an undergrad. “I used to come in here hungover,” she said. At The Tavern, managed by Shelly Gordon (pictured) for more than 30 years, “each booth was an intensely private space,” said a UVA alum. “Each booth was an intensely private space,” wrote an old UVA friend who now lives in Nashville, Tennessee. “The huge public university disappeared when you slipped in, and conversations became strangely conspiratorial.” This week, however, one of the city’s biggest small spaces closes its doors for good. A sign posted on the door thanked customers for their support, and noted the December 24 closing date. “Miss Clarabelle [sic] Wheeler says it’s time to close,” read the sign, in reference to The Tavern’s landlord. “Bye bye, Miss American Pie. This will be the day that we die.” — Brendan Fitzgerald, C-ville