Life behind bars: it’s more than just pouring drinks

Everyone knows the story of Charlottesville’s most famous bartender, you know, that musician guy who worked at Miller’s before becoming a world renowned rock star… what’s his name?

Well, many other local bartenders have attracted their own, albeit smaller, fan base. Indeed, while lots of factors go into creating a bar’s atmosphere– lighting, decor, and menu choices, among them– in many cases, the single most significant element of a bar’s appeal– and what keeps the regulars coming back– is the man or woman doing the pouring.

“They’re friends out in the public square,” says attorney Benjamin Dick, whose name adorns a stool downstairs at C&O restaurant where for years, bartender Barry Umberger would have drinks ready for regulars before they could order and knew the details of his frequent patrons’ lives. READ MORE

The Chang effect: Wooing palates, breaking hearts— and why he left

Last fall, word that a famous Szechuan chef had quietly set up in Charlottesville had foodies salivating. There was a small newspaper mention and online chatter from groupies who track his every move, but after a March 1 story in the New Yorker, diners went into a feeding frenzy.

“We were surprised that it became so popular so fast,” says restaurant co-owner John Rong during a lunch time interview last week. “We noticed business going up after the story in the Hook, too, but when that story in the New Yorker come out…”

Indeed, sophisticated palates from Richmond and D.C. began making pilgrimages to Taste of China, where— even on cold winter evenings— lines could be seen snaking out onto the sidewalk of the north wing of Albemarle Square Shopping Center.

What was happening?

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