A look at the White Spot

This Corner hot spot serves more than Gus Burgers

The White Spot is well known to University students, alumni, faculty and Charlottesville residents for its specials. But there's more to the "Home of the Gus Burger" than its good eats.

The local diner has served as a familiar hang out for many University students through the years - it's not rare to hear parents and grandparents telling their newly accepted or visiting children to stop by this restaurant just to taste the notorious "Gus Burger." Throw together a fried egg, cheese and beef patty and you have the "Gus Burger," the signature dish of the White Spot.

"Once you try it, you will come back," owner Dmitri Tevampis said. "There is something for everyone here. Many girls do not like the burger, but when it is their birthday, they come here to celebrate and indulge."

The White Spot has become a part of the University's identity. Eating a "Gus Burger" is even on the list of things to do before graduation.

"Gus burgers are the food most reflective of the U.Va. party culture," second-year College student Jon Torre said. "The blend of substantial protein is perfectly complemented by the strong flavor of condiments. It's this ideal blend of seriousness and fun inside a fluffy, protective bun that makes this sloppy 2 a.m. meal a glorious U.Va tradition."

Tevampis said sometimes people come back three times in one day for a "Gus Burger," because they cannot get enough. He said, however, his best business comes Thursday, Friday and Saturday nights.

The White Spot is the place to grab food, make an attempt to sober up, and have one last good laugh with friends before calling it a night during the weekends.

Tevampis said the grill is always full during these nights, so it is not uncommon to sell anything from 400 to 600 burgers in an evening. He said he has even, from time to time, made a few extras at the end of the night and left them out for the stragglers who could use some food on their late night walk home.

Tevampis sometimes even allows his customers to come behind the counter and cook their own food. If a person finds himself without enough money, Tevampis said he never hesitates to tell them it's "on the house." He aims to make the White Spot a place where anybody feels comfortable at any time.

"It only took one visit to the White Spot to know that I would be coming back many more times," second-year College student Ibrahim Tora said. "Dmitri has such a passion for his work and the students. It is impossible not to love the place."

More than five hundred pictures line the walls, demonstrating Tevampis' popularity with the student population. He said girls come in to the place every day just to take a picture with him, and some even come back to make sure they have made it onto the wall.

Students are not the only people whose pictures adorn the walls. Tevampis said NFL football player Chris Long and his fiancée joined the late night rush after enjoying the lacrosse game against Johns Hopkins last weekend. Tevampis even has a picture with Katie Couric, and he said she used to come to the White Spot regularly when she attended the University.

Several couples even got married at the Chapel and then made their way down the Corner in tuxedo and gown just to enjoy a "Gus Burger" together and reminisce about when they first met there.

After moving to the United States from Greece in 1973, Tevampis managed a chain of restaurants in Northern Virginia. He took over ownership of the White Spot in 2000.

Even with such a history full of people and memories, little is actually known about the specific origins of the White Spot. Tevampis said he believed the restaurant opened sometime around 1953. Before then, it was a barbershop.

According to legend, when the barbershop moved out the White Spot's next owners removed a chair to reveal a big white spot, which gave the restaurant its name and has remained there ever since.

"Everybody loves the White Spot; it is a tradition that nobody can forget," Tevampis said.

Published March 28, 2012 in Life

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