Innovation Cafe Opens in UVA Research Park

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At a Grand Opening event held September 9th, the University of Virginia Foundation celebrated the establishment of a new full-service restaurant, INNOVATION CAFÉ, in its Town Center Three Building at the University of Virginia Research Park, located north of Airport Road on U.S. 29.

The operators of the Café, Welford and Lesa Williams of First Run Catering, have been in the food service business for over thirty years. The Williams’ also have the distinction of operating both the NGIC (National Ground Intelligence Center) and DIA (Defense Intelligence Agency) cafeterias in their facilities at Rivanna Station, less than a mile north of the UVA Research Park.

INNOVATION CAFÉ offers a variety of dining alternatives for customers including table-side service featuring made-to-order meals, do-it-yourself cafeteria-style service, catering services, and take-out. The Café offers every option to Park tenants and their employees, now numbering over 1,200, as well as surrounding businesses and residents.

The Café is approximately 4,500 square feet large, can seat up to 100 people and opens onto a landscaped outdoor plaza that accommodates dining. The UVA Foundation also has a conference room within the restaurant which is available to Park tenants for private catered events. The Café’s location will eventually be in the middle of the Town Center District of the Park and will be accompanied by other support service operations.

“We are really excited about the Café,” says Welford Williams. “We’ve developed a menu that includes a full breakfast from eggs-to-order, bacon, biscuits and grits to pancakes and fresh fruits. Our lunch menu includes pasta, burgers, pizzas and calzones, a full salad bar, sandwiches and much, much more. We also do a full range of catering events. In this new Café, we are preparing fresh affordable meals in the Park and folks tell us they love it!”

The Foundation’s CEO, Tim Rose, sees the advent of INNOVATION CAFÉ as a sign that the Park has reached a tipping point. “We’ve been developing the Park for nearly 15 years. There are now 21 companies in the Park with over 1,200 employees, a large enough population to support amenities like the Café. As the North 29 business corridor and Rivanna Station continue to expand and grow, so too will the Park. In turn, that will allow us to pursue other support services like a fitness center, day-care services, conference facilities and much more.”

The 562-acre park, located 1.3 miles north of the Charlottesville-Albemarle Airport, has 3.7 million square feet of development rights, though at least 200 acres will remain undeveloped. There are eight completed buildings in the park housing companies, including MicroAire Surgical Instruments, PRA International Inc., Southern Health, Battelle Memorial Institute, Booz|Allen|Hamilton, SAIC, CACI Enterprises, NIITEK, Inc., Pragmatics, and several UVA research groups coming out of UVA’s School of Medicine and School of Engineering and Applied Science.

The University of Virginia Foundation develops research parks as part of its mission to support the University. The University of Virginia Research Park (formerly known as the North Fork Research Park) provides a venue for academic research to work with commercial technology, and supports a variety of businesses, from research and development to light manufacturing and knowledge-based commerce, as well as developing connections between UVA and private enterprise.

For more information about the INNOVATION CAFÉ and First Run Catering, contact Welford Williams at 434-817-9940.

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