1/11/2011: We lost Ukrop’s but gained a lot

Jan 01, 2011 (The Free Lance-Star – McClatchy-Tribune Information Services via COMTEX) –

Ukrop’s was the place to go for chicken salad, White House rolls and friendly baggers who’d take your groceries to your car.

Then the Ukrop family decided to sell the Richmond-based supermarket chain to Giant-Carlisle, a division of Ahold USA, for $140 million, and the popular store on State Route 3 closed Jan. 30.

“Ukrop’s is and will continue to be missed in Fredericksburg,” lamented Sue Allred of Spotsylvania County, who used to put her daughter in a stroller and walk to the store to get salad from the salad bar for dinner.

She said she loved the fact that it was a small, locally owned company that had integrity, gave back to the community and remained closed on Sundays.

Ukrop’s was among a number of Fredericksburg-area businesses that bowed out in 2010 as more and more began arriving — some in places vacated after the economy took a nose dive.

It was a year that saw a wave of new restaurants pour into the area, several chains open in long-empty spaces in Central Park, a new retail and office building in Eagle Village and the grand opening of The Village at Towne Centre.

It was also the year that the Powertrain plant in Spotsylvania closed, Spotsylvania Regional Medical Center opened and The Free Lance-Star began to be printed at Print Innovators, its parent company’s new printing plant in Fredericksburg.

Quaker Steak & Lube, which opened earlier this month in the former Bangkok Boulevard in Central Park, was a reader favorite among the numerous new restaurants opening in the area, according to an informal poll conducted by The Free Lance-Star.

“The ambience is fun, (especially the Jimmie Johnson decor), and from a dish standpoint [I] was impressed with the 4-WHEELER — an appetizer (actually a meal in itself) with onion rings, pretzels, mozzarella cheese sticks and breaded dill pickles served with three dips,” said Gene Philipp of Spotsylvania. “We’ve got several sets of friends who have told us it is their latest place to ‘hang out.’”

Renard Ross, another fan, joked that he’s “mad” that he can’t get his oil changed while he’s eating there.

Also getting a mention were several of the sushi establishments that have popped up in former restaurants. Miso Asian Grill and Sushi Bar, for example, is in the former Great Wall Beijing location on U.S. 1 near UMW. Other new entries include Hibachi Buffet and Seafood, which opened in the former Old Country Buffet on State Route 3, and Hibachi Grill & Sushi, which in the old Texas Steakhouse & Saloon in Central Park.

Central Park also attracted three chain retailers to storefronts that shuttered when the economy went south. Electronics chain hhgregg filled the spot vacated by Circuit City after it folded, Hobby Lobby moved into the old Linens N Things site, and Verizon took over the former Tweeter location.

“Hobby Lobby is awesome!” said Crystal Wilcox-Dickey of Spotsylvania.

The Village at Towne Centre, which got off to a slow start during the recession, switched into overdrive this year with the opening of a slew of specialty shops, including Arhaus, Charming Charlie’s and Joseph-Beth Booksellers, as well as the long awaited Muvico 12/Splitsville complex.

Cafaro Co., developer of Spotsylvania Towne Centre and the Village, celebrated by holding a grand opening July 1 that featured Miss America, Caressa Cameron of Spotsylvania County, and country music singer John Schneider, who played Jonathan Kent in the TV series “Smallville” and Bo Duke in “The Dukes of Hazzard.”

The University of Mary Washington’s private foundation kicked off the completion of the first phase of Eagle Village’s redevelopment with a preview of its new Eagle Landing dorm this summer, and has leased or is in the midst of leasing much of the retail and office space in the new building next door.

So far, only Blackstone Coffee, Lee’s Cleaners and Salad Creations have opened on the first floor, but other restaurants should be opening there soon.

Across the street, the McDonald’s that has served UMW students since 1972 was demolished to make way for the fast-food chain’s latest model.

Meanwhile, downtown Fredericksburg saw Las Palmas Cafe, a Puerto Rican restaurant, close at 707 Caroline St. just months after it relocated there, while Bavarian Chef, a Madison County restaurant known for its German cuisine, opened a second location in Fredericksburg’s train station.

And Frenchman’s Corner, a gourmet food store in Culpeper, opened its second location in a corner of the Courtyard by Marriott.

On the production front, General Motors closed its Powertrain plant in Spotsylvania after 31 years of operation, and editions of this paper began rolling out of Print Innovators, The Free Lance-Star Cos.’ new printing plant at the end of Belman Road in Fredericksburg’s Battlefield Industrial Park. It is one of the largest commercial development projects in the city.

Spotsylvania Regional Medical Center also opened, which brought the number of hospitals in the Fredericksburg area to three.

Cathy Jett: 540/374-5407

Email: cjett@freelancestar.com

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