There’s a magical place that exists in Charlottesville, VA.
Blink and you might miss it, but alongside the Seminole Trail (Route 29N) on your way out of town – there it stands. A white-pillared, window-flanked beacon amidst the nondescript blur of brick stripmalls and drug stores. The Forest Lakes Market.
Oh, and did I mention it’s part of the gas station?
Yes, it’s a gas station shop! I had first heard of this phenomena from (where else?) Kath’s blog - though she visited the Ivy location. Yes, this means there are more than one of these amazing locations. And thankfully, too – as I heard the very unfortunate news that the location nearest my place of work (Forest Lakes) will be turning into a 7-11 later this summer. BOO to the max. But! This blog entry is not to be hateful or angry, but rather – to celebrate the wonderful experiences I have enjoyed.
See, the Forest Lakes Market is just something special. It goes much beyond the standard gas station fare by huge leaps and bounds – whereas other (*ahem7-11*) gas station stores might have hot dogs, taquitos, icees and tar-like coffee, the Markets feature fresh choices, like fruit, salads and even handcrafted sandwiches that feature premium fixings, like Boar’s Head deli meats and cheeses.
The sandwiches, oh the sandwiches! Filled with super fresh ingredients, they take the cake when it comes to the best dining options on this side of town. Not only are they yummy, but I love the fact that all the names of the choices are locally-inspired. Each title evokes a city/neighborhood or other destination from the area, which give them a really fun flare. My favorites? The Birdwood (which I am feeling up to eating a little turkey) or their great veggie options – the Ivy being my most-ordered option!
Beyond the food, however, is the great atmosphere and hospitality of the place. I know – again – atmosphere at a gas station? Hah! Just take a look at that picture above.
When’s the last time you felt compelled to lounge for a moment at the same place you filled up your car? It makes me giggle a little, especially considering a ‘Food Rule’ I recall…
Just to sweeten the deal even more, The Markets also feature Mudhouse Espresso - and when I say this, I don’t mean that they just have their coffee beans and don’t know how to roast them (you know, kind of like how hotels say they ‘feature’ Starbucks coffee?!) but full-fledged espresso bars, with options for lattes, mochas and even smoothies and different varieties of tea and other caffeinated pleasures. Their lattes are so good, they literally transport me back to the cool, wet streets of Seattle in the best of ways – perfectly steamed milk atop expertly roasted beans…ahh.
For these reasons, and countless more, I am so thankful to have experienced the wonder and joy that is…the Forest Lakes Market. As briefly mentioned in the content of this post, it will be closing soon – and though this brings me some despair, at least I can remember the wonderful times I spent here.
And in the meantime – I can console myself with their two remaining locations, I suppose Just not on my lunch break!
How do you cope when a great local place closes? Tell me about some of your experiences!
All FLM images from their Google site.