The White Spot serves decades of greasy goodness

The Gus Burger and Grillswith remain Corner classics


Food columnist Molly Wright gets a chance to flip patties at The White Spot — a check off her U.Va. bucket list.

Molly Wright | Cavalier Daily

It’s 1 a.m. on a Friday night turned Saturday morning. You’re walking down the Corner after coming from the disaster that is Trin 3 or from dancing on a table at Coupes. Your feet are aching from party-hopping and dancing, but you and your friends aren’t quite sure you want the night to end just yet. And that’s when you see it — that gleaming 1950s-looking sign with the words “The White Spot” calls to you from down the Corner, and you know you can’t possibly go back to your apartment until you’ve had a Gus Burger and a Grillswith. 

With a typical diner feel, The White Spot has remained one of the most popular late-night weekend spots for students through the years — although it is open daily from 8 a.m. until 3 a.m. closing. The White Spot, along with The Virginian, is one of the oldest restaurants on the Corner. Students cram into every inch of the small diner until 3 a.m. waiting for a grilled cheese, french fries, a Gus Burger or the heavenly Grillswith. 

One of the only places to sit in the restaurant are the 11 diner stools directly facing the grill, which gives diners quite an intimate view of the individuals making your food. One trend among University students today is to convince the workers at The White Spot to let you flip your own burger. Checking this off your bucket list might require a little convincing of the fry cook, but let me tell you from personal experience, getting behind the counter and flipping that patty over on the grill is quite rewarding.

For the few who have never made a stop into The White Spot late at night, here are a few of their signature dishes that are sure to fulfill your midnight snack cravings. The most famous item on the menu is the Gus Burger, which is a cheeseburger with a fried egg on top. The meal was created long time ago by Dr. Gus, who used to come to The White Spot from the University Hospital every day and order the burger for lunch. The Gus Burger is the perfect greasy, savory snack after a night of partying, and the University’s annual Springfest also honors the meal by having a Gus Burger eating contest to see who can stuff their face with the most meat, egg and cheese. 

If you’re looking for something a little sweeter to end your night, look no further than the famed Grillswith. This dessert has been fulfilling University students’ sweet tooth since at least the 1950s when the University Diner — formerly in the spot now occupied by Fig Bistro on the Corner — first put ice cream on top of grilled donuts. The University Diner was owned by William and Alma Shiflett until it closed in 1985. 

While Fig Bistro serves a version of the University Diner’s Grillswith with doughnuts, ice cream, melted chocolate, cinnamon and powdered sugar, The White Spot serves this dessert the old-fashioned way. Putting two Krispy Kreme doughnuts on the grill until they get just a little gooey and melted and then scooping some vanilla ice cream on top, “the Grills with ice cream,” as The White Spot calls it, is not to be missed. 

This dessert is famous in my own family, as my grandfather told stories of how he and his fraternity brothers would make late night — or as he liked to say “very, very early morning” — trips to the University Diner in the 1960s for a Grillswith. 

So whether in the ‘60s or in 2017, some things never change among University students — we all like to end our late nights with a sweet fix of doughnuts and ice cream or a delicious burger and The White Spot provides us with just that. The restaurant has been a staple of the Corner for many years and with its savory Gus Burger and sweet Grillswith, it’ll be bustling nightly until 3 a.m. for many years to come. 

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