“It makes you very aware of how fragile life is.”

Q: “What are the best and worst parts of your job?

“The worst part of my job is having to give death notifications, and the first death case I had on the job was the death of a three-month old who died of SIDS. It makes you very aware of how fragile life is. You never forget those kinds of things. All the training in the world can never ever prepare you for those moments. Your heart really goes out to victims’ families. The best part of the job is when you find someone at a young age who has made a mistake, or made a brush with the law. When you see that as an officer, you have to figure out how to get that person’s life back on track. There’s no monetary value on helping people. Just do the right thing for people. I was born and raised here [Charlottesville]. I went to Charlottesville City Public Schools. There were three of us that ran around together in high school, and we all went into law enforcement. One of us went to the UVA Police Department, another went to the Virginia Beach Police Department, and I stayed here. I love my job.” –Lt. Ronnie Roberts


Text and photo by Haley Burton. You can visit her Individuals of Charlottesville Facebook page to see people in other locations around Charlottesville.

“I went a week without eating…”

“I live out of my bags. I’m homeless and jobless right now. It’s very hard to find a job. I just found out about the soup kitchens, but before that, I went a week without eating. There’s a lot of nice people here in Charlottesville. One couple actually bought me lunch.”


Text and photo by Haley Burton. You can visit her Individuals of Charlottesville Facebook page to see people in other locations around Charlottesville.

Humans of the DTM: meeting Johnny Cash

Left: “Do you know if anyone can spare my brother, Albert Wayne, a kidney? He needs a $2800 kidney transplant. He won’t live to see another year if he can’t get one. If someone could help out, maybe he could get what he needs. Have them call (434) 981-1869 or (434) 295-5003. Thank you!”

Right: “I met Johnny Cash when he was here [in Charlottesville] in 1992. I’ve been to about 15 states, and I’ve been as far out West as Las Vegas. I went there because I won a trip out there from WWWV 97.5 FM.”


The DTM is please to welcome new contributor Haley Burton, whose Facebook page Individuals of Charlottesville documents random people and their stories.

“As a journalism major and art student at James Madison University, ” says Burton, “my three passions are people, photography, and culture. I believe that the Individuals of Charlottesville make up their own striking culture that is diverse, interesting, and friendly. Through people one can learn so much.”

Burton says she got the idea while she was sipping coffee and people-watching on the DTM. Inspired by Brandon Stanton’s “Humans of New York” photo series, Burton began snapping shots and taking notes.

“As soon as I finished my coffee that morning,” she says. ” I raced home, grabbed my notepad, returned to the Downtown Mall, and began photographing.”

While The DTM will be featuring Burton’s work, you can visit the Individuals of Charlottesville Facebook page to see people in other locations around Charlottesville. We’ll be archiving Burton’s photos here.

Vintage DTM: pre-Ice Park view of the West End

This view of the west entrance to the Downtown Mall was taken in the 1980s from the top of what historically is known as “Vinegar Hill”. This is after the Omni Hotel was constructed (1984) but well before the ice park. The paved street seen here is Water Street but Main Street once ran down Vinegar Hill in the center of this view.  More vintage photos of Charlottesville at www.cvilleimages.com (photo from the Preston Coiner Collection at C’ville Images)


Hot bites: New Neapolitan pizza place opening

dish-pizza-shay-aLooks like some authentic Neapolitan Pizza is coming to (well, near the DTM) in the form of a place called Lampo, the brainchild of a couple of MAS and Tavola chefs, who’ll be taking over The Farm Cville space (they’re moving to a larger location) next to Spudnuts. This is good news for pizzaphiles, as the Neapolitan is the real thing, a 200-year old recipe using a special flour from Naples, called cabuto, and fired up in a wood-fired oven that reaches temperatures up to 800 degrees. It’s cooked fast and hot in only 60 to 90 seconds, and best eaten right on the spot. There’s even an Italian association that protects the professionalism of the pizza makers in Italy and around the world, making sure real Neapolitan Pizza is made according to tradition, called the Associazione Verace Pizza Napoletana (AVPN). Look for it to be open sometime in the fall.

Richmond restaurateur buys El Puerto’s

Tasty tacos from Richmond coming to the DTM?

Tasty tacos from Richmond coming to the DTM?

Looks like El Puerto on the DTM got an offer they couldn’t refuse. According to the TimesDispatch, Richmond restaurateur Hamooda Shami, owner of New York Deli, Don’t Look Back and Portrait House restaurants in Carytown, just purchased El Puerto’s at 223 West Main Street, next to the Whiskey Jar and Brookville:

“Shami said he came across the restaurant while staying in Charlottesville recently and saw potential in the space. He introduced himself to El Puerto’s owner and within a week he’d struck up a deal to buy the restaurant.

Shami says he’s still working out the details on the name and concept, but he’s partnering with Don’t Look Back co-owner Nathaniel Gutierrez on the Charlottesville spot and it likely will be a version of the pair’s popular Carytown taco shop.”


According to the TD, the place is expected to open in October. Stay tuned for more details. For a look at the Don’t Look Back concept, click here.

Full Circle: Blue Mountain to take over South Street

blue mountainBack in the late 1990s, a young graduate of Hampden-Sydney College became my office-mate at a doomed Internet-start-up called Value America. It was his first real job out of college, and he hated it. We shared an office the size of a broom closet with no windows, and created and cranked out stupid ads for laptops and Weber grills that ran in USAToday and the The Wall Street Journal. We had greedy hopes that our stock options would be worth something one day. Alas, Value America went down in flames. One Christmas, though, young Taylor Smack received a home beer-brewing kit. The rest, of course, is local history. Now, Smack and his partners have purchased South Street Brewery on the DTM, where Smack actually worked for five years as he was hatching his beer-making plans. Below, you’ll find a release from Smack – who was always a fine writer, by the way – that’ll give you some details about his plans for the place. This, my friends, is a welcome development for the DTM. – David McNair

South street