The doors are closing on a Charlottesville seafood shop that customers call an institution for the freshest supply from the shore. The family-owned and -operated Anderson's Carriage Food House is shutting down after more than four decades in business.
Three generations have operated Anderson's seafood in some form for more than 80 years. Now, the shop is less than two weeks from closing.
Owner Ted Anderson's customers are family, bound together by a love of fresh seafood.
“They have had the best in town for many, many years,” said shopper Susan Ward.
Another shopper, Lena Gill, said, “It reminds me of living in New Orleans. It's the closest thing they have in Charlottesville.”
Anderson says this business is in his heart. His grandfather delivered seafood by carriage in Richmond, and Ted started as a teen selling from a truck on Route 29 with his parents.
“Every Friday and Saturday - I don't care if it was 10 degrees and it was sleeting and snowing - they were there. And we created this amazing following,” Anderson said.
Those customers followed Anderson's to Charlottesville in 1997 to the former Carriage House Foods on Barracks Road.
“The Carriage House was known for their meats. We were known for our seafood, and we thought, let's combine them,” Anderson said.
The combination aimed to compete with chain grocery stores. Now, a combination of problems is forcing the family shop to close. Anderson says the strain of aging parents, a tough economy, and a crumbling building are too much to keep the business going.
“It's been really tough to run a business in a building this old that's falling apart,” Anderson said.
So now, the closing sale begins.
“It's been a great store, and I'm so sorry to see it go. It's an institution in Charlottesville,” Ward said.
Now Anderson has to watch as his family’s business history come apart.
“There are things that we have had since day one of doing business in this town that I cherish, and people are coming here saying, ‘I'll give you $5 for it,’” Anderson said.
Anderson thanks his loyal shoppers and encourages others to support their local businesses before it's too late.
“It's very sad. My family and I are brokenhearted that this has not worked out the way we had hoped it would. So, we'll see what the next chapter brings,” he said.
Anderson plans to continue his catering business.
The owner of the building, Clara Belle Wheeler, says she was unaware of Anderson's plan to close until NBC29 called her for this story. She says their lease runs for at least two more years.
Wheeler also owns the building that housed The Tavern, which closed in 2011 after 57 years in business.