A remembrance: Good-bye to long-time C & O owner Dave Simpson

Dave Simpson at the C&O Restaurant. Photo by Jen Fariello.

Dave Simpson at the C&O Restaurant. Photo by Jen Fariello.

Long-time C&O Restaurant owner, and good friend, Dave Simpson passed away suddenly this week. He will be missed. Here’s an interview I did with Dave a few years back. He was a wise and thoughtful man:

The C&O: a friendly port in a stormy world
November 30, 2010

For 30 years now, Dave Simpson has been holding down the fort at the C&O restaurant, which put Charlottesville on the fine dining map when original owners Sandy McAdams and Philip Stafford opened the place in 1976.

Back then you could count the number of fine-dining restaurants in town on two hands. Today, you need a calculator.

Remarkably, the cozy place in the funky building on Water Street is still setting the standard in Charlottesville cuisine. As for Simpson, he’s manged to maintain the restaurant’s good reputation for three decades now with a combination of hard work and some fine people skills. One of the few missteps he’s made was straying away from the C&O and partnering with wayward accountant Jim Baldi (who is still wanted on felony embezzlement charges) on the Bel Rio fiasco, a restaurant whose noise and financial problems made Simpson feel put in a “bad guy” role. He parted ways with Baldi and issued a public apology to the people in Belmont “who found this enterprise a nuisance while I was involved.”

Back where he belongs now, Simpson, who grew up in Charlottesville in the 1950s, the son of a City cop, recently took time out to reflect on the last 30 years.

“Growing up as a cop’s son then was a little like growing up on the Andy Griffith Show,” says Simpson. “My mom worked at Sperry, and my brother Mike and I graduated from Lane High school.”

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