David McNair

Is the Continental Divide Going to Join Christian’s Pizza in Richmond?

In Food & Wine, Restaurant opening on March 7, 2014 at 1:46 pm

continental divideThe Continental Divide occupies a sliver of a room on a nearly desolate corner of W. Main Street right before the bridge that crosses in front of the Amtrak station. It’s next to another restaurant, the exquisite L’Etoile, and close to a pawn shop, and easy to miss if not for the neon sign that whispers Get In Here from the front window.

It’s also frequently packed with folks lined up to and beyond the entrance. It’s first come, first serve for the Tex-Mex inspired cuisine—the flank steak has always been a personal favorite, and on a recent visit the fried tomatillo salad really hit the spot—and a place that seems unique to Charlottesville. There’s only one location and you better get there early if you want one of the high seated booths or the rectangle cocktail tables near the front or, if you’re fortunate, a seat at the bar.

Unlike other Charlottesville food staples like Bodos, Christian’s, Sticks (which already has a Richmond site), or Marco and Luca’s, the Divide has never replicated, and that’s always been part of its appeal. Even though it’s a favorite of so many residents, the Divide still has a way of feeling like a personal secret, so it was surprising to read in Richmond’s Style Weekly that they are opening a branch in RVA at 2501 W. Main St.

The reaction from Charlottesville expatriates must have overwhelmed because the Divide felt compelled to temper the news on their Facebook page: “Ok ok ok ok! Hold the phones! While no deal has been signed in Richmond as of now, we are very excited to see what the future may hold, and appreciate the enthusiasm of the Richmond community!”

Reached by phone, a representative of the restaurant said much the same, that the news was mere “word of mouth” and that “nothing has been signed.” To be clear, the Divide has not denied they are opening a new place, and contacted by e-mail, Style Weekly reports that an official announcement is expected in the next two weeks.

Meanwhile, the weekly’s short piece also mentioned that a Christian’s Pizza is opening in the west end of Richmond. First reported in Richmond BizSense, the restaurant is set to debut sometime this spring at 7003-A Three Chopt Road inside the Village Shopping Center. “The beginning of next month is the most likely scenario,” said Andrew Vaughn by phone in Richmond where he is currently spending much of his time trying to pull everything together.

The founder and still co-owner of Rapture said he was “looking for something to sink his teeth into” when he decided to open a Christian’s in Richmond, seemingly the next logical step not only for him but a franchise that already has four locations in Charlottesville and Albemarle County. Vaughn hopes that the pizzeria’s ornate and diversely topped pizza by the slice will captivate west end RVA as it did downtown Charlottesville more than a decade ago. To that end, the new Christian’s will be offering a few new types of pizza (and salads), as well as resurrecting the Sicilian, a thick-crusted former feature at the original downtown location.

That task will fall to Christian Tamm, the founder and owner of the downtown Christian’s (the others are privately owned), and Vaughn’s business associate in this newest chapter of the popular pizza place. In the mid-2000s, the two opened the Christian’s on UVA’s corner before selling it in 2009, and have decided to partner once again. “I missed the fun of it and the whole concept,” Vaughn explained. “I love Christian’s.”

Updated 3/12/2014

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