Tag Archives: Restaurants

China Inn Asian Grill- DBI Business Member of the Month

28 Aug 26 china inn window

Downtown Blacksburg, Inc is proud to present our Business Member of the Month for August 2015
China Inn Asian Grill

Located on Draper Rd right across from the Town Library, with it’s own parking lot the China Inn Asian Grill is a hidden gemdining1 in downtown Blacksburg.  Offering traditional Chinese food as well as American Chinese, Japanese, Asian and Thai food with full service dine in, carry out and delivery options available you are certainly given plenty to choose from. As an added bonus you can even use your Downtown Gift Certificates for Dine-in or carry out  service.

“The fried rice that comes with the lunches is surprisingly good.”

“Easy to find and park, or they deliver if you feel like staying in.”

123“This was hands down the best Chinese food I have ever had. Everyone was really friendly and the food came out in a timely fashion. This was authentic Chinese food and you would be remiss if you didn’t dine here at least once.”

China Inn
403 Draper Rd
Blacksburg, VA 24060


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Virginia Tech Foundation- DBI Non-profit Member of the Month

8 Jul

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Downtown Blacksburg, Inc is proud to present our Non-profit Member of the Month for June -July 2015
Virginia Tech Foundation
Located at 902 Prices Fork Road, Suite 145 in Downtown Blacksburg

The foundation is a 501 (c) (3) nonprofit nonstock corporation established in 1948, and provides private financial support to enable the forward progress of Virginia Tech.


North End is a newly renovated 227,000 square foot mixed-use development that offers retail, restaurant, and office space in a pedestrian friendly setting with outdoor seating areas that will draw you in and make you want to visit again.  North End provides convenient parking for customers in the surface lot or the newly constructed 800-car parking garage and offers some of the finest businesses in Blacksburg including:

Five Guys                                            Tivon Salon & Spa

Buffalo Wild Wings                            New Image Barber Shop

Starbucks                                            Velocity Care/Carilion Clinic

Next Door Bake Shop                        Hokie Centric

Wicked Taco                                      Palm Beach Tan

NuSpark                                              Kaplan

Center of Dance                                P. Buckley Moss Gallery

Carilion Clinic Sports Medicine and Rehabilitation

North End is located on the edge of campus at the intersection of Prices Fork Road and Turner Street in beautiful downtown Blacksburg, Virginia; one of the top ranked best performing small cities in the country.

If you haven’t been to North End, come shop, dine and enjoy…

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Palm Beach Tan, Next door Bake Shop, The Center of Dance, Wicked Taco and the P Buckley Moss Gallery are also members of Downtown Blacksburg, Inc.

She-Sha Cafe & Hookah Lounge-DBI Business Member of the Month

30 Jun FileItem-13761-sheshalogo3finalSMALLjpeg


Downtown Blacksburg, Inc is proud to present our Business Member of the Month for June -July 2015
She- Sha Cafe & Hookah Lounge
Located at 211 Draper Rd NW in the heart of Downtown Blacksburg

“I think one of the coolest things about She-Sha is the versatility of the space. While She-Sha is a great place to sit and get work done, it’s also where lots of people love to meet up with friends and hang out. We’ve had many customers say they’ve literally gotten their Masters Degree in She-Sha. That’s so cool! At the same time, though, we have lots of events like touring singer/songwriters, international DJ’s, local bands, open mic nights, poetry readings, and even small theatrical performances. Throughout the years, we have been totally open-minded to whatever the people of the town want this space to become. It’s been very organic. The business is run by people who love saying “yes”, and I think it shows on a regular basis. ss11

Speaking of organic, we have delicious organic fair-trade coffee and tea. We’ve got lots of great food from our kitchen like our Mojo Wrap which is like nothing else around. We’ve got some customers who say this is the single best food item they have ever had in Blacksburg. You can check out the fabulous menu right here! MENU

Another nice thing about She-Sha is the lack of TV’s and huge beer advertisements which are nearly impossible to avoid nowadays. Yes, you will find a lot of people in here at any given time with their laptops open, but it’s their choice. That’s really the key: giving people a choice and not shoving huge TV’s in everyone’s face.”

Upcoming events are as follows (but please note many more will be posted soon!):

July 17: “Funk 45 Friday” All Vinyl Night with the finest funk & soul, Latin funk, Afro-funk, and tropical flavors selected by Boogieburg’s vinyl collector Spark Arrester

Aug 7 & 8: “Global Dance Music Showcase” in celebration of downtown Blacksburg’s Steppin’ Out Festival featuring dance music from around the world selected by regional DJ’s

Aug 20: The WeatherVanes (touring four piece folk/rock band from Washington DC)

Look out this Fall for WUVT’s “Green Eggs & Jam” jam session night open to any local musician every other week.

John Gaskins, Manager of She-Sha

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Downtown Blacksburg, Inc. presents A summer full of fun- the ultimate “staycation”!

23 May BEER2

Join us downtown for a variety of family fun filled events throughout the summer.

Updated: June 6, 2015

And here’s a little sweetener from the Town of Blacksburg!
During these events, metered parking will be FREE in the downtown area:
Saturday, June 20 – Summer Solstice Fest
Saturday, July 11 – Summertime Small Business Saturday
July 11-18 – Blacksburg Restaurant Week
Saturday, July 18 – Art at the Market
August 7 & 8 – Steppin’ Out


Saturday, June 20, 1pm-11:30pm- Summer Solstice Fest. Free and open to all. Featuring live music, Dog Parade, Petting Zoo, Beer & Wine Garden, Water Wars, festival foods, craft vendors, games and activities for the whole family.



Saturday July 4, 5-10pm- Dr. Elvis on the Roof. Featuring live music with Dr. Elvis & The Pink Caddy Daddies, and Guilty Pleasures, beer and wine, festival foods and the best view of the fabulous Town of Blacksburg fireworks. Bring your own chair. No pets allowed. Donations to the Special Olympics of the New River Valley.


Saturday, July 11 Summertime Small Business Saturday- featuring special deals at participating downtown stores. PLUS the chance to win $500 in gift cards and gift certificates when you shop at local stores in partnership with Montgomery County Chamber of Commerce. Buy. Eat. Live. Local.

July 11- July 18Blacksburg Restaurant Week. One Town. Seven Days. 20+ Delicious Deals.4

Saturday, July 18, 9am-2pm- Art at the Market with Breakfast at the Farmers Market. A juried art show and sidewalk sale, with a fabulous breakfast at the Blacksburg Farmers Market.

August 7-8, 10am-10pm- 35th annual Steppin’ Out Festival. Three stages of live entertainment, more than 200 craft vendors, merchant’s sidewalk sales and your favorite restaurants providing great festival foods.

Monday, September 7, 3-6pm- Party on the Promenade. A pre-game tailgate open to all ages on College Avenue.

2Downtown Blacksburg. It’s not on your way, it’s where you are going!

For more information visit our website:DowntownBlacksburg.com

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.


Here comes the sun…here comes the FUN!!!

7 Apr 19

April showers bring May flowers, spring has truly arrived!! And with spring our thoughts turn to sunshine, to social time to FUN!! Summer is a fun-filled busy time in downtown Blacksburg so we think you need to mark your calendars now and SAVE THE DATES!

Saturday, May 3, 5-10pm- 2nd annual Horseshoes & Hats: A Kentucky Derby Casino Night
In Kent Square
Tickets available NOW online only at: http://www.downtownblacksburg.com/casino_night.aspx
The event will include viewing the Kentucky Derby, heavy hors d’oeuvres, a Fancy Hat contest and Casino games- Craps, Roulette, Blackjack, Texas Hold ’em, and River City Horse Racing. Must be 21 or older to attend.

Tuesday May 27, 6:02pm- CASH MOB for Mental Health America
Meeting place To Be Announced

We meet, the secret locally owned businesses to target are announced and off we go!
1) Spend up to $20
2) Meet 3 new people

Tuesday June 17, 5:48pm Cash Mob
Meeting place to be announced


Saturday, June 21, 1pm-11:30pm- Summer Solstice Fest
Main Street and Lee Street
Featuring Burnt Creative Craft & Vintage Market, Downtown Sundown 5k® Race, carnival, sand beach, live music, dog parade, petting zoo, and so much more.

Tuesday July 15, 6:12pm Cash Mob
Meeting place to be announced

Saturday July 19, 8am-2pm Art at the Market with Breakfast at the Farmers Market
Juried Art show and sidewalk sale featuring at least 30 local artists.
Take in a little breakfast with your art, as well as enjoying a bustling day at the Farmers Market. Live music included!

Friday-Saturday August 1-2, 10am-10pm STEPPIN’ OUT!
Crafters, art, sidewalk sales, live music and entertainment, family, food FUN!!!

Monday, August 18, 6:06pm Cash Mob
Meeting place to be announced

We have a few more activities and events up our sleeves so keep watching our website: http://www.downtownblacksburg.com/events.aspxor our facebook https://www.facebook.com/DowntownBlacksburg

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


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!


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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