Wednesday, January 10, 2007

A Daughter's Memories of Arthur's Grill

Back on December 16 (see here), I posted a 1940s-era image of Arthur's Grill on Main Street and asked if anyone had any memories of the place, but no one responded -- until now. I was delighted to receive an e-mail recently that sheds more light on this former downtown eatery:

Hi Dave,

My son, Pete Caramanis, sent me your Arhur's Grill photo and site. Pete is an attorney in Charlottesville and the grandson of the owner of Arthur's Grill. My father was Nick Lambert and he owned Arthur's Grill with my uncle, Alex Angelus. My dad purchased Arthur's Grill around 1946 from a man named Arthur E. Costan (hence the name Arthur's Grill). My dad passed away Christmas 1965 and my mother sold the restaurant in 1966. It only stayed open as a restaurant for a few months after that.

I have many, happy vivid memories of Arthur's Grill and the people that worked there and frequented the restaurant. The photo you show is the store as it was when he owned it. The 1956 Chain, Lane High School Yearbook, has a photo in the advertisements of my dad, my older sister, cousin, and their friends in one of the booths at the restaurant.

I would be happy to answer any questions that you may have. That restaurant was my dad's life. He was very social and it was a busy lunch spot for the downtown businessmen.

I have many old photos and have been looking for more. I also have an old breakfast menu with unbelievable prices.

Kathie Lambert Caramanis

Thanks for writing Kathie, sounds like your dad was quite a guy and I'm pleased you were able to give us a glimpse into this special piece of Charlottesville history!


Rosanna Bencoach said...

My father, Bob Bencoach, ran Arthur's Grill starting sometime in the early 1960s. (I was very young at the time, so I don't know the exact year.) I always heard that he "bought" and "owned" it, but from the other post here, perhaps the financial arrangements were more complicated than that.

He ran it until 1965 when he left town after he and my mom divorced. He also had an interest of some kind during the mid-60s in a restaurant a few blocks west called The Nook. (I only visited The Nook a couple times, and remember it as more bar than restaurant.)

I have many memories, as a child, of time spent in Arthur's Grill, mostly in the afternoons, and of walking from there to the Paramount or the Jefferson for matinees. I still have a few of the 45's my dad gave me when they were removed from the jukebox (including my first Beatles records).

My dad's mother worked there for awhile, as well, and made cafe curtains for the windows (which all faced south). I still have a swap of the very bold, 1960s geometric fabric that she used.

My aunt remembers that her mom was very welcoming of the students from Lane HS who were looking for places to hang out after school. We weren't selling many meals anyway during those hours.

Rosanna Bencoach

Rosanna Bencoach said...

Correction. "The Nook" should have been "The Shack."