The Villa Diner, which operates on land owned by the University, is slated to close in May 2018 after Finals Weekend to allow for future redevelopment along the Emmet Street / Ivy Road Corridor.
The Villa Diner, which opened in the 1970s as a casual family-oriented restaurant, has been owned and operated by Ken Beachley and his wife for the last 12 years through a lease with the U.Va. Foundation, which provides real estate services for the University.
“We love U.Va. students and faculty,” Beachley said. “I think we’ve developed a great relationship with the University over the years. We host the U.Va. Guides group twice a year, they come in and do their initiations for their new people and that’s always a big treat. We host lots of the sports teams and we’ve just enjoyed being apart of the community here.”
Beachley has been aware of the University’s plans to redevelop the land for several years, but was surprised to learn that the University will not renew his lease and are demolishing the property in a few months.
“It’s upsetting and a little bit shocking,” he said. “I mean, I’ve certainly had enough warning and we’ve been planning for this for several years. You know, it’s unfortunate and we’re sad to leave but we are looking forward to doing it again down the road.”
Beachley said the Villa Diner is expected to reopen by July 2018 in a different location in the Charlottesville area. He will make a formal announcement when a new location is found.
“Hopefully [my employees] trust in me in this that we’re going to successfully relocate our business and hope to keep everyone employed and hopefully be bigger and better than ever,” Beachley said. “Obviously there’s some stress on terms for everybody in a situation like this, but I think we’re all hoping for the best.”
Colette Sheehy, senior vice president of operations at the University, said the outlined improvements to the north side of Ivy Road are designed to make the area more pedestrian friendly, with an open green space for stormwater management in the middle to create a more welcoming environment.
“We will have to take down The Cavalier Inn first,” Sheehy said. “We can’t really work too much until we get that demolished. So that will happen over the course of this summer and then we’ll start all the other construction.”
The renovations, which will begin after The Villa Diner and The Cavalier Inn are demolished, will be a collaborative process with the city of Charlottesville, which has received $12.1 million in state funding for streetscape improvements on Emmet Street.
In addition to improving pedestrian connectivity and adding green space, the University eventually wants to add new buildings as it redevelops the 14.5-acre property.
Correction: This article previously misspelled Ken Beachley's name in one place as Beachey. The spelling has been corrected.