Tag Archives: food

Valentine’s Day in Downtown Blacksburg

6 Feb The_350_Project_LocalsLoveYouMore_VALENTINE_Email

With just a week to go until Valentine’s Day we thought you might enjoy a round-up of some of the great deals downtown to make the day extra sweet for your special someone! And don’t forget to Love your Community by shopping small for Valentine’s Day this year!

The_350_Project_LocalsLoveYouMore_VALENTINE_Email

Gifts Galore

Valentines-Day-background_mainAureus Jewelry
Stop by Aureus Jewelry and register to win a heart shaped garnet pendant necklace to be given away on Valentine’s Day! We are offering 60% off all in stock jewelry from now until Valentine’s Day

Fringe Benefit
Valentine’s Day is just around the corner. Come in to see our beautiful jewelry just in from Brighton! There is a wonderful selection to choose from!

Heirloom Originals
First 10 customers on February 14th receive free gift
Vintage Valentine displays and beautiful costume jewelry
Free Valentines day gift wrap
20% off any red or pink item in store…

Mad Dog
Serving Hershey’s kisses and a 14% discount on selected items. Beautiful heart necklaces and earrings in stock for that special day

Matrix Gallery
American made pottery, glass, jewelry, wood, leather goods, and more. Offering you the very best in Valentine’s Day treats!

P Buckley Moss Gallery
The gallery has released a new print especially for Valentine’s Day. They also have a collection of many other subjects suitable for valentine gifts.

Polished by Claire v.
Send your heart this Valentine’s day with a polished gift basket. Call us at 904-6868 to order your baskets by February 12th!

Uncommonly Gifted
Valentine’s Day is nearly here so stop in to browse the very best selection of cards and unique & unusual gifts for your sweetie! Blacksburg is for Lovers t’s, hoodies and totes make the perfect Valentine Gift!

Special Experiences

Clay Corner Inn
Great Valentine’s special and any weekend stay at the Clay Corner Inn.dsa
Weekend Healing Retreat Package- 2 nights, 2 people plus a Reiki Session each- $447 plus tax

Eucalyptus Massage Therapy
Free Olive Oil & Aloe Vera foot massage with any service purchased in February!

Isn’t it Romantic? A Dinner Concert
Saturday, February 14
Dinner Buffet & Musical Revue with Catherine Breske & Quartet
The Village Center, Warm Hearth Drive
Reservations- contact mbaker@warmhearth.org

Lyric Theatre
February 14- The Virginia Center for Civil War Studies invites you to a free screening of Young Mr. Lincoln 1:00–4:30 p.m. The afternoon will include a post-screening Q & A with VT Department of History professors Kimberly Kutz and Paul Quigley.

 Regular Movie for Saturday Night- showing- The Imitation Game at 7pm & 9:15pm 

Main Street Inn
Make A Night Of It- 10% discount on room rate for Valentine’s Day
Enjoy a complimentary bottle of Wine!
Call 540-552-6246 to reserve your room today

NRV Pilates, Personal Training & Massage
Valentines special – buy 1 hot stone massage for $55 and get a free Pilates Personal Training session.

Say it with Food

Beliveau Estate Winery
February 14- Chocolate inspired “Wine and Dinner Pairing”, 6:30pm. $65 per person, reservations required: 540-315-5674

Ceritano’s
Valentines Day dinner special
Appetizer or salad
Grupper al limone or
Assagini di pasta
Dessert
Bottle Motepulciano or Trebbiano
$65 plus tax and gratuity

Café de Bangkok
February 14 features a Thai style Valentine special menu.

Gobble Cakes
Cupcakes with flowers for Valentine’s Day! $4 each

Gourmet Pantry
Saturday Feb. 14: A special Valentine’s Wine tasting from 12 – 4pm.
Celebrate Valentine’s Day at Gourmet Pantry with an evening of romance in the kitchen, featuring a menu of decadent recipes you’re both sure to enjoy! We select the highest quality meats available and the freshest ingredients, with a different wine specially paired to perfectly compliment each dish. Join us for this exquisite evening of sumptuous food, fine wine, and romance! $110 per person. Limited space, so book your reservation early! Saturday February 14, 6:00pm.

Next Door Bake Shop
Make your Valentine’s Day Gifts count twice! Order from us on February 9th and 10% of sales will be donated to the Price’s Fork Elementary School!
What’s that? You’ve got it covered?! Don’t need help making your valentine feel special? That’s okay!
Come in and join us for lunch, dinner, coffee, or your choice of treat and we’ll donate 10% of our daily sales!

Social House
Busy on Valentine’s Day? Join us at Social House, on February 10th, for lunch or an early Valentine’s Day Dinner and 10% of sales will go to Price’s Fork Elementary School.

Travel in Style  

Take the Hooptie Ride!

To schedule a pick-up, call:
(540) 449-DRIV(3748)
Our drivers are on-call daily morning to late night. Other times are available by appointment.
Call ahead for best service!

Happy-Valentines-Day-Photos

A student’s eye view…

20 Jan

By: Abigail Rausch

Being a Virginia Tech student, I’m not as creative as I tend to think when it comes to some things. When I want to shop, I look online; when I want a cup of coffee, I go to Starbucks; and when I’m hungry, I eat Chipotle or Panera Bread. I’m sure a lot of students can agree with me, we get caught up in the rush of life and stick with what we know, what we’re used to. So what’s wrong with shopping on the same websites and eating the same foods if we know that 9 times out of 10, we’ll like our results? I never used to think there was anything “wrong” with that, and I think most students feel the same as I did. Truthfully, this is only because most people don’t know the many possibilities and options Downtown Blacksburg has to offer, and I am just now recognizing them.

In the Downtown Blacksburg area, there are tons of options for shopping and dining that a lot of students seem to overlook, at least, I know I did. We all know that Blacksburg isn’t the most “eventful” place, so in our leisure time we might stay in, order a pizza, and surf the web. We do all this while a lively and exciting downtown sits less than a mile away, perfectly stocked with the means to fulfill all of our wants and needs.

One day last semester I was put in a situation where I had to enter each and every business in the downtown area, and it was then that I realized I was missing out on so many wonderful aspects of downtown Blacksburg. Since that eye opening experience, whenever I want to hang out with friends or family, I love to spend the evening downtown. Throughout my many recent adventures downtown, I was surprised by the diverse food options a lot of restaurants offered, as well as the fun, interactive environments.

The restaurants aren’t the only great things about the downtown area, and with one walk down Main Street, anyone would agree. The local shops downtown carry unique items that you couldn’t find just anywhere else. Remarkably, they carry practically anything a college student or any other customer could want for all occasions. Exploring each and every store in the downtown area was a great experience and left me stunned with what I found, and happy I took the time to do it.

My new go to place for shopping and dining is downtown Blacksburg. Why don’t you join me? I think you’ll be surprised and excited at what you find.

 

Abigail Rausch is a Sophomore at Virginia Tech. She is double majoring in Marketing and Fashion Merchandising & Design. Abigail is currently working as a part time work study Intern for Downtown Blacksburg, Inc.

 

Summertime in Downtown Blacksburg 2013

31 May 27

Artcrawl with Scavenger Hunt
Friday June 7, 5-8pm
FREE and open to all!
Collect Scavenger Hunt form at participating galleries, return completed form to Community Arts Information Office (CAIO) by 8pm. Prizes will be awarded!

Participating Galleries:
Armory Art Gallery, Bollo’s Gallery, Burnt Creative Boutique, CAIO, Capone’s Fine Jewelers , The Artful Place, Eucalyptus Massage Studio Gallery,Gallery at Mish Mish, Gillie’s Gallery, Kent Jewelers, Matrix Gallery, Nest Realty, Perspectives Gallery, Pita Vera, The Artful Lawyer A Fine Gallery Inc

Cash Mob
Join us on Thursday, June 27 at 5:38pm
Meet at the Odd Fellows Hall, near Buffalo Wild Wings
We will shop in a locally owned store and then celebrate in a locally owned and operated restaurant. Partnering with Valley Interfaith Chil Care Center. Bring craft supplies such as washable markers, school glue, crayola finger paint, etc to donate to VICCC.
RULES:
Meet 3 new people
Spend $20
Support local businesses
HAVE FUN!!!!

Downtown Cash Mob dates for 2013
June 27- with VICCC
July 16- Ladies Only!
August 13
September 25- with Micah’s Backpacks
October 24- with the YMCA Please join us for the next Downtown Blacksburg, Inc. Cash Mob.

Blacksburg Farmers Market
Market Hours:
Wednesday 2pm-7pm
Saturday 10am – 2 pm
Special Events:
Sunday June 2, 10am – 3pm: Vintage and Antique Market, featuring food from Bollo’s and Pita Vera
June 12- Mingle at the Market- featuring wine from Beliveau Winery, beer from Bull and Bones and music by Welcome to Hoonah!
Saturday June 22, 9 – 11:30 am: Solstice Chef featuring a food demo and tasting with VT chef Randy Van Dyke, and the grand launch of our Mobile Kitchen!
July 10- Mingle at the Market
July 20- Breakfast at the Market
August 14- Tomato Tasting

Movies on The Lawn- Presented by the Blacksburg Museum & Cultural Foundation
Thomas Connor House Lawn. 104 Draper Rd
Admission and popcorn are FREE
Bring a blanket or chair and purchase some dinner from a local food vendor prior to the Movie.
Movie starts at dark. Rain date Saturday.
For details call 540-558-0746
Sponsored by The Town of Blacksburg, The National Bank of Blacksburg, First Bank of Virginia, Real Life Dental Care, The Blacksburg Partnership, Dr. Steve Jacobs, Stellar One Bank, First Bank & Trust Co, Rocky Acres, Plott & French Financial Advisors, Christian Insurance Agency, Starshine Events and The Lyric Theatre.
June 14- The Odd Life of Timothy Green
July 12- Paranorman
August 9- Zookeeper

Blacksburg Rescue Squad
Please join us for our annual open house Saturday June 15th from 1pm until 5pm.
There will be a demonstration showing how a victim is removed from a car damaged in an accident using the jaws of life. A real car will be used. There will also be tours of the ambulances and crash trucks. Bring the kids,have a bite to eat and meet members of your local volunteer rescue.
For more details visit: http://www.blacksburgrescue.org/events

Up on the Roof
May 30th, June 27th, July 25th, August 29th and Sept. 26th.
Blacksburg Premier Creative Professional’s mixer. We meet on the last Thursday of every month (April through Sept) on the rooftop of the Kent Square parking lot from 5:30-8pm – it is a happy hour networking social.

Market Square Jam
Blacksburg’s Market Square Jam kicks off the summer 2013 season on Wednesday, June 5. The Jam is a weekly event that takes place Wednesday evenings from 8-11 pm at the site of the Farmers Market on Draper Road. The season will run from June 5 – September 25.
Whether you’re a musician wanting to jam with others or just looking for some great music on a Wednesday night, come out to the Farmers Market and enjoy a great time.
June 5- The Jugbusters
June 12 – Katie and the Bubbatones
June 19 – Sam Linkous and Friends
June 26 – The Happy Hollow String Band
July 10 – Katie and the Bubbatones
July 17 – Sam Linkous and Friends
July 24 – Indian Run String Band
July 31 – Farm Use Only
August 7 – Black Twig Pickers
August 14 – Sam Linkous and Friends

For more information, visit www.blacksburg.gov/marketsquarejam.

Summer Arts Festival
“Friday Night” Out Concerts
6:00 p.m.-7:30 p.m.
June 21-Cyrus Pace Quartet
June 28-No Strings Attached
July 5-Gerry Timlin
July 12-Three Minute Lovin’
July 19-Sexual Chocolate
July 26-Key West Band

6th annual Summer Solstice Fest
Come have a mid-summer frolic in Downtown Blacksburg on Friday June 21 5-10pm for the Carnival and Saturday, June 22, from one ‘til midnight for the Festival and Carnival.

Live music, dog parade, Treasure Island, Beer Garden, a giant sand beach, a Downtown Sundown 5K Run, Wing eating Contest,Water Wars, Carnival and much more! Bring the kids to an old-fashioned flea circus, crafts, activities, and festival foods.

Downtown Sundown 5K® – download your application here
 http://www.runaboutsports.com/images/Race_Docs/2013SundownRegistration.pdf

Art at the Market
Art at the Market 2013will take place on Saturday, July 20, from 9:00 a.m. until 2:00 p.m. Once again, this Downtown Blacksburg, Inc. event will be in conjunction with the annual Breakfast at the Farmers Market. Live Music provided by Kat Mills and Eric Lanoue.

Download the 2013 application. Spaces are limited, so be sure to get your application in quickly. Spaces will be assigned based on indicated preference (where possible) and in the order received.

With your participation we hope to make this the biggest and best Art at the Market ever!

Thanks to our Art at the Market Sponsors: Fringe Benefit, Mish Mish and The Community Arts Information Office

33rd Annual Steppin’ Out
August 2-3, 2013 from 10 am until 10 pm.
Steppin’ Out features over 200 artists and crafts people from around the United States selling unique handcrafted items – jewelry, pottery, textiles, metal work, basketry, stained & fused glass, yard art, fine art, furniture, toys, artisan foods and so much more!

For more details of all events visit www.downtownblacksburg.com

Pita Vera-Made from Scratch with a Lebanese Flair

2 Nov pitat11

Post written by Cyndy Graham

Yes, you heard correctly. The food at Pita Vera is made fresh and baked fresh. From gyros to kabobs, Pita Vera prepares your food to order with the finest and freshest products. Owner Sam Makoley knew he wanted to open his restaurant in Blacksburg after working in the hotel and restaurant industry in LA and Phoenix. It didn’t take many trips to Southwest Virginia before he was won over by the beauty of the area, sense of community, peace and quiet, and most of all, the people. When he would visit his cousin in Roanoke, he enjoyed the slower pace of life compared with big city life. After the economy took a downturn in 2008, he decided to sell his restaurant in Phoenix, and head to Blacksburg.

Pita Vera is in the former “More than Coffee” location at 235 North Main St. Also, the former site of Mr. Fooz Sub Shop (1981), a favorite location of Hokie alums, including myself, the name was changed in June 2010 to more accurately reflect the food and the atmosphere. Sam bought the restaurant in May 2009. The food is a combination of Mediterranean, Lebanese, Greek, and Italian, using recipes passed down through Sam’s family and new dishes that the owner puts together on his own. Menu items are continually updated, and include fresh fish and homemade pasta. A $100,000 building renovation is in the works, which will include new seating. The focus of the menu is on fresh, healthy options using ingredients such as olive oil, and menu items are cholesterol free. Sam always “treats the customer the way I would want to be treated.”

The downtown location has many plusses, and a few minuses. Having such a visible location is a great advantage, but there is a lot of competition. New restaurants are opening all of the time and there are more dining options on campus. The location also does not allow for outdoor seating, at a time when College Avenue is being upgraded for more outdoor seating options. Pita Vera does have a lot of loyal, local customers, as well as customers from Roanoke, Winchester, and even Boston, who make sure to stop by when they are in town.

Sam Makoley brought his passion for ethnic foods to Blacksburg along with his philosophy of being true to the customer (vera is Latin for “true”).  Sam and his staff at Pita Vera simply “try to do our best.” Evidently his customers agree. I urge you to check it out!
Take in a little art with your meal- Pita Vera carries a rotating display of art by members of Blacksburg Regional Arts Association.

Pita Vera
235 N. Main St.
Blacksburg, VA   24060
Tel: 540-552-9222

Hours of operation:
Monday through Thursday 11:00 to 9:00pm
Friday and Saturday 11:00 to 9:30pm.

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Sharkey’s-Fun and Friendly

26 Oct CM2

Post written by Cyndy Graham

The management team at Sharkey’s focuses on three different and equally important things:  their happy, friendly staff, the good value you receive for your money, and the opportunity to participate in daily activities or specials. They host bingo games and trivia contests. There is a special every day like “free burger Monday” and “kids eat free” on Tuesday. Their famous salad bar is open 7 days a week, and it is not only delicious, but it is extra healthy with an organic salad mix. They always try to use locally grown ingredients. Sharkey’s is the only restaurant in Blacksburg to offer buffalo (bison) burgers, my personal favorite.

October 8, 2012 was the 20th anniversary of Sharkey’s in Blacksburg. In a place where competition is high, their longevity is a testament to their commitment to quality, and most of all, fun!

Originally from New York, Steph and her business partners came to Blacksburg from Florida in the early 90’s. With thoughts of Miami Vice still swirling in their heads, they decided to give their restaurant a cool, beach theme. And the shark logo isn’t a vicious shark, but Sharkey, the friendly shark, which speaks more to who they are and to their slogan, “Where Good Friends Go!” Steph was looking to open a restaurant in a college town where their customers would be a combination of both students and people from the surrounding area. Sharkey’s was originally called Sharkey’s Bar & Grille and was located in the building next door which had been known as Cricket’s.  In 2005, Sharkey’s became Sharkey’s Wing & Rib Joint and moved to its current location at 220 N. Main Street which was formally home to Woody’s, Preston’s, and Arnold’s.

Sharkey’s is continually improving in all areas, and Steph attributes this to their incredible staff who have a direct influence on how they do business. The management team’s philosophy is to empower their staff, a get-better philosophy that can change people’s lives. They also listen to their customers, who are always referred to as guests. Due to guest feedback, on free burger Monday you don’t need to use your coupon that day, but can come back anytime and the coupon does not expire! They are “cool like that.”

In 2007 they decided to expand by opening a second location in Radford. Sharkey’s has been voted“Best Bar,” “Best Place to Watch Sports,” and “Best Happy Hour” (7 years in a row) by the readers of the Virginia Tech Collegiate Times.

Did you know???

  • Sharkey’s partnered with Cafe de Bangkok to produce a one of a kind special  barbecue sauce for the Summer Solstice Fest Wing Eating Contest in June 2012. Apparently the wings and sauce were delicious and competition was fierce! Everyone came out a winner- they all got to eat bucket loads of wings! Prizes were also awarded to those who ate the most in the time allocated.
  • Sharkey’s also hosted the Downtown Blacksburg, Inc. Cash Mob on August 21, 2012. The Mob visited John’s Camera Corner to shop and then enjoyed a delicious meal on the delightful patio behind Sharkey’s- best of all- because it was a Tuesday all the kids ate FREE! Showing true community spirit and appreciation for the Cash Mob participants, Sharkey’s even provided some great FREE appetizers for the whole group!

Sharkey’s Wing & Rib Joint
220 N. Main St.
Blacksburg, VA   24060
540-552-2030

www.sharkeyswingandribjoint.com

Daily Specials

Sharkey’s offer something special every day of the week! Click the links below to find out more

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Sharkey’s Host regular Wing Eating Challenges- have you ever participated? Share with us in the comments below about your favorite Sharkey’s experience and you could win a Downtown Gift certificate …to use at Sharkey’s!

Tijuana Toss!

25 Jul pks

Post written by Lauryn Tamburello
In my personal opinion, PK’s, hands down, has the best wings in town. I opt for the bone-in wings and yes, I’m quite an attractive date with Honey BBQ sauce smeared all over my face. The first time I ordered them, I honestly didn’t realize that’s the size wings were supposed to be! They’re twice the size than most wings I’ve ordered (which are a lot!) dining at restaurants throughout Virginia and traveling to other states.

Of course, that’s not the only thing that draws me (or the rest of Blacksburg) here, Tijuana Toss on Thursday nights keeps you coming back for more. I got lucky on my 21st Birthday winning our group 2, yes that’s right, 2 pizzas! I believe I called tails for both flips, by the way.

For those of you unaware of this awesome deal, on Thursday nights from 5-10pm you can order any one-topping extra large pizza(s) and at the end of the meal, a manager will come over, toss a quarter and if you call it correctly in the air, you win the pizza free!

And the rest of the run down:

  • Monday- Sicilian night $8 Sicilian pizzas
  • Tuesday- $9.99 Footlong Subs
  • Wednesday- Wing night, half off your order of boneless wing bites
  • Thursday- Tijuana Toss, win free pizza(s)!
  • Sunday- Game Day Specials including wing/pizza combos and ½ off nachos

Not only is their everyday menu full of a variety of choices, such as steaks, pasta dishes, burgers, gourmet sandwiches, breadsticks and more, they also have Weekly Features. These run from Friday to Thursday giving regular customers more variety and also to test out new menu items. Such features include crab balls, Asian chicken salad and a Gummy Martini!

Mike, an army brat and former Hokie, bought PK’s in June 2009 when finding out it was for sale. He makes sure PK’s is heavily involved in the community by sponsoring VT Athletics, Rec Sports, the Entrepreneurial Club, and several youth teams, not to mention holding a wing fest at Gobblerfest!

One of the many appeals of PK’s is how enormous the space is, you can rent out one of the many rooms available and PK’s can still be open for business! Some previous events include rehearsal dinners, work happy hours, receptions, Birthday Parties, High School Reunions, etc. Not only does Mike enjoy being the host, catering is also a big part of the business, anything on the menu will be delivered right to your door!

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You can order online through CampusFood.com, by phone at 540-552-3278 and don’t forget to follow PK’s on Facebook!

T.O.T.S.

19 Jul

Post written by Lauryn Tamburello
As I’m climbing up the stairs, I’m greeted with the smell of slow cooking brisket and pork, and welcomed with a, “Hi, how are you doing,” when I open the door. I look around to what seems wood flooring continuing on forever. Straight ahead to a dance floor, on my right a wrap around porch (holding a bar of it’s own) and as I continue ahead there’s a walk out patio as well as a downstairs patio, containing yet another, bar.
Top of the Stairs, also known as TOT’s, stands out from the over-populated burger and wing joints here in downtown Blacksburg with a southern BBQ style.
I think another unique aspect, despite the only soley-focused BBQ joint in town, is how it seems 70% of the dining area is outside. Knowing how beautiful summer and fall are in Blacksburg, this is a turn for the best.
TOT’s recognizes itself as one of the best places to hold events, as it has a tremendous amount of room and therefore can seat patrons as well as cater your party’s needs.
In student life, the restaurant is well known for TOT’s Tuesday, which is Karaoke Night and also featuring a DJ. For the local crowd, a big seller is Wednesday’s All You Can Eat Ribs Night, at just $10.95 you get all you can eat ribs with two side dishes (I’m counting down until Wednesday every week to take advantage of this opportunity!).
Mike, the owner says he was in the right place at the right time and had the opportunity to take over the restaurant. Formerly, TOT’s was named The Balcony (‘88-‘95) and at this time Mike worked here for 4-5 years and therefore was very familiar with the flow of the business. He certainly doesn’t like the kids to go hungry as he donates plenty of BBQ to the Blacksburg High School JV Football team and the April 16th Picnic, as well as sponsoring youth teams and Non-funded Virginia Tech Athletic Teams.In 2009 Mike also bought PK’s.
Mike also values the catering side of this business. Although it’s not a full-service catering (more so delivery), it’s perfectly convenient for Tailgates, Happy Hours for local businesses, Birthday Parties, High School Reunions, etc. as they offer on and off-site depending on your needs. Not only do they offer catering from their daily menu, they also have a catering menu and if you still don’t see something you like, they’ll go above and beyond for the customer by tailoring your order!

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You can easily order from TOT’s by calling 540-953-2837 or stop by to speak with them about your catering needs, and don’t forget to follow them on Facebook!

“Flipping Burgers for 36 Years”

15 Jul

Post written by Nancy Moseley

When I told my cousin I interviewed Mike’s Grill for a DBI blog post he only had one thing to say: “Well, they really are the best burgers anywhere around here.”

Sure… everyone residing in the greater New River Valley already knows they’re the place to go for a tasty burger, but popular local opinion notwithstanding, when I went by to meet them I wanted to, quite frankly, go behind the burger; look between the buns, if you will.

Nick & Elaine Varelos inherited the family owned and operated restaurant from their father, the Mike, in 2005. Donned in aprons and periodically popping away to attend to kitchen duties or wait on customers, they answered my questions with the typical banter of brother and sister.

“We’ve been here since 1976,” Nick said. “Back then there was a bar in the front and pool tables in the back. We sold French fries and a basic burger, in a couple of sizes, from a small kitchen. But we were mostly a bar.”

“There was a lot of cleaning we had to do before we opened. I was pretty young, but I remember helping clean and clean and clean,” Elaine added.

“And I remember falling asleep on the pool tables,” snickered Nick, who was even younger at the time. “But when he shows up, he’ll tell you all about it.”

He, of course, is Mike himself, who continues to come by the restaurant every day. After immigrating to the United States from Greece in the late 1950s, Mike made his way to Roanoke where he worked at the Roanoke Weiner Stand and eventually opened his own restaurants, The Manhattan and later, Mike’s Place. Ultimately, he saw more opportunity for growth in the burgeoning community of Blacksburg, 40 minutes south.

But the early bar business proved rough. Riffraff from outlying areas didn’t mix well with college students, so trouble was always stirring. Nick recalls his dad keeping a machete behind the bar to slam down on tabletops as a harmless, albeit shocking, way to regain order.

Almost on cue, Mike arrived through the back door greeting everyone in a thick Greek accent. He joined the conversation and, despite the machete and riffraff, was excited to tell me about how the basic burgers of the early years became the famous burgers we know now.

“It was the good ol’ days! We were a beer joint first, but then we wanted to become more of a family place, so in the early 80s we took out the bar, moved the kitchen to the back and focused more on the food.”

“We changed everything down to one size, to streamline it, to make it simple for the wait staff. We started offering just a half-pound burger and one-size sodas. Even now we keep the menu small, it’s easier to keep things fresh,” Nick added.

This idea of freshness is rightly a matter of pride for the family. The beef is brined daily on premises and the cheese, the lettuce, all the condiments, are prepared on site. The tomatoes, from nearby Newport, garner compliments all year round. Every single burger is cooked to order; nothing is warmed-up or premade.

And then there’s The Spice. As with most restaurants that have a signature dish, there is also a signature secret ingredient. Only Mike and Nick prepare The Spice which you can add to your order by noting desired amount: “A lot of spice,” “Just a little spice,” or, for the patty purest, “No spice, please.”

The menu, down to the Greek dressing recipe that Mike also created himself, hasn’t changed at all since those good ol’ days.

“People come in because we haven’t changed, they come in to relive their memories,“ Elaine said. “If you ate here in 1981 and came in tomorrow, it would be the same. We’re exactly what they remember.”

Nick agreed, “It’s great when people come in and want to meet you because they ate here 30 years ago and are back again. They actually want to thank us for not changing.”

Though back in the 80s if the restaurant sold 5 pounds of beef it was considered a good day. Today, Mike’s Grill is known to sell 1000 burgers, roughly 500 pounds of beef, during a Virginia Tech football game weekend. So some change is good.

The restaurant opens every day at 11AM and loosely matches Virginia Tech’s calendar, shrinking hours during the summer and closing during school breaks. Nick admits they get accused of not caring about locals, however someone from the family is on site at all times and since the staff is mostly college students, they simply decided to take their breaks when the students do.

“We are very proud of what we make here. We put everything we have into this every day, so we need time off, too,” Nick defended.

The Varelos have not only built a business on burgers, they’ve built a business on memories. Having grown up going to Mike’s Grill myself (and to movies at the old Capri Twin next door, but I digress), I asked Nick and Elaine about their favorite memory of running the restaurant.

“Once when I was driving on the interstate a car next to me was honking, smiling and pointing at my Mike’s Grill bumper sticker. I’m just amazed that people everywhere seem to know about us,” Elaine laughed. “I guess my favorite memory is that we’re a big part of other people’s memories.”

“Several years back,” Nick recalled, “NFL recruiters came here to get burgers and talk about Michael Vick. Ever since then we’ve called where they sat the ‘Million Dollar Table’ for how much money was probably being discussed.”

But when it comes to Mike’s Grill, there is only one million-dollar question, why are the burgers served upside down?

Mike jumped in: “The juices! The top bun is bigger than the bottom bun and holds more broth. So when it’s upside down, all the good juices soak through the lettuce, the tomato and then the bun.”

[Author’s Note: burger broth, as explained by Mike, is the juice released from a grilled half-pound Mike’s famous burger]

“And if you think about it,” Nick said, “it’s how you naturally pick up a burger anyway.” He mimicked the two-handed flip from plate to mouth; demonstrating how taking a bite this way is just, well, more ergonomic.

Trademark upside down burgers and all, Mike and his family have spent decades dishing out authenticity. Even as Blacksburg changes, Mike’s Grill has no similar plans. They will continue to sit on the edge of downtown serving burgers that feed memories.

“We keep waiting for Guy Fiere from ‘Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives’ to show up. Or even Bobby Flay for a burger cook-off!” Nick laughed, “Maybe one day.”

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16 restaurants, 7 days, one town!

16 Jun

Blacksburg’s first annual Restaurant Week, presented by Downtown Blacksburg, Inc. and The Blacksburg Partnership, begins Monday, June 18 through Sunday, June 24. Sixteen local restaurants are participating with various deals for lunch, dinner, and treats.  Discover a new restaurant or visit your favorites for mouth-watering specials. Venture out for an office luncheon, a fun girl’s night, a special date, or a family outing with a movie at the Lyric Theatre.  Check out the dishes and deals of Blacksburg Restaurant Week!

For more information, please visit http://blacksburgrestaurantweek.wordpress.com, “like” us on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/BlacksburgRestaurantWeek, or follow us on Twitter @bburgrestaurant.

List of Restaurant Week Specials

LUNCH
Cabo Fish Taco│ Cabo Fish Tacos or Serrano Chicken Tacos│ $6
Next Door Bake Shop│ Choice of Gourmet Sandwich + Thai Iced Tea│$8.50
Our Daily Bread│ Entrée + Drink + Pastry│ $9.95
Sal’s Italian Restaurant│ Sandwich + Fries + Soda│$6.95
Wikiteria Market & Cafe│ Gourmet Burger + Fountain Drink (Mon.-Fri. 11am-2pm)│ $6

 

DINNER
Bull & Bones Brewhaus & Grill│ 3 Course: Salad + Bacon-wrapped BBQ Shrimp + 5 oz. Sirloin│ $13.99
Cabo Fish Taco│ Margarita with Purchase of Entrée (Mon.-Thur. until 9pm) │$1
Café de Bangkok│Authentic Thai Platter Dinner Set│ $15
Castle’s Kettle and Pub│ “A Taste of Ireland”: Entree + Pint│ $12
Champs Sportsbar & Café│ Sandwich, Wrap, or Burger + 16 oz. Draft Beer (5-9pm)│$8
El Rodeo South Main│Dinner for 2: Appetizers + Texas Fajitas + Churros Dessert + Sodas│ $20
Gillie’s-│Local Greens  + Pan Fried Trout + Rice│ $14
India Garden│3 Course Dinner of $25 value for only $17
Preston’s Restaurant│Shrimp Appetizer + Flat Iron Steak Entrée +  House Made Ice Cream+ Glass of Wine│ $40
Sake House│Miso Soup + Salad + Rice + Gyoza + Shrimp Tempura + Yakitori + Sushi +Drink │$19.95
Sal’s Italian Restaurant│ 3 Course: Antipasto Italiano + Pasta + Entrée + Glass of Wine│ $42.95

 

SWEETS & TREATS
Bollo’s│ Scone + House Mug│$2.50
The Chocolate Spike│ Sampler of Dark, Milk, or Combo Chocolates│ $10

Thank you to our sponsors:  Mix 100.7, 105.3 The Bear, 107.1 WPSK, 16 Blocks Magazine, Flavours Magazine, Out & About Advertising, The Lyric Theatre

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Please tell us about your favorite Restaurant Week experience in the comments below!

Art at the Market

8 Jul Mccabecoolidge

Passionate about art? Love our Blacksburg Farmers Market? Is breakfast your favorite meal of the day? Love to buy local?
If you answered yes to any of these questions, we have the event for you! Saturday, July 16th, sees the return of Downtown Blacksburg, Inc.’s annual Art at the Market. The event has been around for nigh on 20 some years and changed locations and titles three time. It has grown from a handful of artists displaying their latest paintings on a fence of Henderson Lawn on College Avenue under the dubious protection of a handheld umbrella; “Art on the Fence”; to artists showing their work in the alley behind the original Farmers Market; “Art Along the Alley”;to over forty artists in 2010 filling 10×10 booth spaces on the lawn of the Media Building on Draper Rd; “Art at the Market”.

Local artist, Sally Mook, remembers the event well having been a participant since 1987. “Art at the Market started out as Art Along the Fence, the fence being the one that enclosed Henderson Lawn from Main street to Squires Student Center on College Ave. Some artists brought their own setups, but a lot of us hung our paintings from the fence by looping the painting’s wire over the fence spikes or leaning paintings against the fence and resting them on the brick wall……
There was good shade from all the trees along Henderson Lawn and College Ave…. There was good camaraderie among the artists then just as there is now.
The idea that didn’t work out was “Art Along the Alley” – it was waaaay too hot there and that must have been the low point for Blacksburg’s sidewalk art show as I believe there were only 7 of us artists.
No matter what the weather, I’ve always loved being a part of this show. So many people come downtown to look at art and to visit, it’s truly a fun, hometown event for me.”
Nancy Norton, stained glass artist, shares an enthusiastic view of the event; “This will be my fifth year at Art at the Market. Through heat and rain and perfect weather, it is always a treat to see so many folks downtown and for them to have a delightful opportunity to see what our local artists are doing.”

Without a doubt this exposition of unique works showcasing local artists in all visual media has seen its popularity and success increase as each year passes. Attracting an increasing number of artists each year it has become the premiere arts event in Blacksburg.

Art at the Market is now held each year in conjunction with Breakfast at the Farmer’s Market, a family event featuring wonderful locally grown food, live music and the best produce the farmer’s have to offer! This is the ideal opportunity to take in a little art with your breakfast.

Art at the Market is another great event brought to you by Downtown Blacksburg, Inc. with sponsorship from
Fringe Benefit, the Community Arts Information Office, and Mish Mish

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