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Cavalier Diner closes after 12 years after being sold by the landlord

The popular breakfast spot served breakfast, traditional diner fare and Greek dishes

<p>Cavalier Diner is currently looking for a new location in the Albemarle and Charlottesville area to reopen.</p>

Cavalier Diner is currently looking for a new location in the Albemarle and Charlottesville area to reopen.

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Cavalier Diner — a well-known breakfast spot in the Charlottesville community — closed its doors Jan. 30 after the building was sold to a new landlord. The closure is one in a series of recent restaurant shutdowns in the Charlottesville area.

​​The restaurant served customers for over 12 years at its location at 1403 Emmet Street. 

Owner Aristea Vlavianos said it was not her choice to close the Cavalier Diner — Vlavianos said that the property’s landlord notified her Dec. 22 that the restaurant would have to close. The building in which the diner was located has been sold, and the new landlord wants to make it a retail space rather than keeping the restaurant. Vlavianos said she recently learned that the new owner of the building will most likely sell CBD and tobacco-related products.

Cavalier Diner was one of the last restaurants opened by Vlavianos’ parents in 2009. She was “devastated and heartbroken” to have to close after having survived many obstacles. According to Vlavianos, the diner was able to survive the pandemic, staffing shortages and a car that ran through the building in 2016 that damaged part of the diner.

“We survived all these other calamities and then like bam, we got this, completely out of our hands, out of the blue,” Vlavianos said. “And we, you know, just couldn't surpass this one. So definitely I was heartbroken and devastated because I've had some people work for me that had been with me for years.”

Vlavianos added that she will miss many of the regulars who frequented the restaurant.

“Some of the regulars became friends with each other because they were there on the same day and the same times, and we got to know each other,” Vlavianos said. “And it was just a really cool atmosphere … these people were not customers anymore — they were friends and family.”

The Corner has also seen a number of restaurant closures over the past year, including Littlejohns Delicatessen, College Inn and Michael’s Bistro.

College Inn — which was known for serving pizza and gyros — closed last year after 68 years of service. The decision to close came as the restaurant’s lease ended and the owner made the decision to retire. A Chipotle will soon occupy College Inn’s former space.

Unlike the closures of the Corner restaurants, the Cavalier Diner’s closing is unrelated to effects of the COVID-19 pandemic, such as labor shortages or loss of income. Instead, it is due to the rising costs of Charlottesville real estate. 

This increase in costs can be attributed to the low inventory of properties, which has driven up prices. This trend is not unique to Charlottesville — it is one that has recently impacted the entire country.

Cavalier Diner served as a go-to place for breakfast, brunch and other traditional diner dishes for many students. The diner’s Facebook page advertised “Charlottesville's best breakfast and brunch,” in addition to “delicious Greek and traditional diner favorites.” 

Many students expressed disappointment after hearing the news of the closure. Third-year Education student Jessica Milo said she was surprised to hear of the diner’s closing.

“Each time I have been, the diner has been filled with customers — most regulars who know the servers by name,” Milo said. “I have spent the last two New Year's mornings enjoying breakfast at the diner, and it is my go-to when I crave a filling, comforting breakfast. It is a place that has become a staple in my U.Va. experience, and I am really sad to see it go.”

Similarly, fourth-year Architecture student Abigail Millar expressed sadness about the closing of Cavalier Diner.

“It is really sad to see the Cavalier Diner go,” Millar said. “It was such a welcoming place [with] people that made you feel at home with comforting service and food.” 

Cavalier Diner is currently looking for a new location in the Albemarle and Charlottesville area to reopen. Once Vlavianos finds a location, she plans to announce it to the public. She has been offered different opportunities but said many are not feasible due to a lack of parking or “astronomical” rents. 

For now, Vlavianos said she hopes to take time for herself and wait for the perfect time and opportunity to arise to reopen her diner. 


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