Our History

Victorian manse to reopen as Restaurant

Owners estimate renovations of College Street property will cost $350,000.


CHRISTIANSBURG -- Time is running out for the somewhat dated, somewhat tacky paneling that lines the walls of the old recreation building.
Abdul Sharaki, owners of Giovanni’s Gourmet restaurant have bought the old building and cannot wait to fulfill their dreams by turning it into The Summit, a top-notch gourmet restaurant.
But first the paneling has to go.
"We feel like ripping it down with our hands right now," said Robin. But both know is would do little to hasten the $350,000 renovation and expansion of the 1888 building. Named by a customer for its perch atop a hill along College Street, the new restaurant is expected to open (soon).
Christiansburg had once talked about tearing down the building that used to house its recreation department, but eventually decided to sell it to the Sharaki’s.
Although the couple will be moving their business only a few blocks, the change will be an enormous one. They will be leaving their two biggest problems behind -- a building and name that suggest a pizza place, which Abdul reopened as a casual Italian restaurant in 1993.
Abdul, a native of Egypt, had been working in New York a famous Italian restaurant, before he began to tire of city life. a trip to the New River Valley persuaded him to bring his culinary skills to a new audience.
"When I drove down to see the place ... I felt like this place was completely different than New York," he said.
Though some New Yorkers might think Southwest Virginia would not appreciate fine food, Abdul found that his customers did. One customer was particularly enchanted: Robin, his biggest fan.

In fact, she seems to enjoy rhapsodizing about his food almost as much as tasting it.
"He doesn’t even really cook by recipe, he cooks by gift," she said.
Luckily for their business, Robin is not the only one who raves about Abdul’s cooking, as their collection of letters and guestbook entries attest.
Encouraged by customer approval, they began shifting the restaurant away from Italian toward gourmet. Instead of spaghetti and lasagna, the entrees which cost from $18 to $26, have names like Scallops Afrique, Turk’s Turban, Veal Marsala, and The Wave.
But the fare has not gotten too exotic, said Robin. "He’s an approachable gourmet."
Although they worked hard redecorating the interior of the old pizza parlor, they felt the restaurant’s atmosphere could never match the quality of their menu. And then friends told them the old recreation building was for sale.
Looking at the Victorian-era house, Robin sees the potential to have a restaurant that is unique, exciting, and classic -- the very words she uses to describe Abdul’s food.
"Here’s this beautiful home that’s just sort of nestled in the hills," she said. "It just has such an elegance to it -- we just were charmed by the architecture. It just seemed to mesh so well with out vision of the restaurant."
Their vision, it turns out, goes far beyond fixing up the old building. They plan to add -- a state of the art commercial kitchen to the rear. There’s talk of a balcony for dining and stargazing, lighted gardens, a cigar room, a gift shop and a dessert cafe.
The main restaurant will have seating for about 50 just 10 more than their current location. They said they don’t want to get so big that they lose the personal touch, both in the food and in the service. The Sharaki’s say an evening at The Summit should be about dining, not eating.
"To feed the soul, plus the stomach," said Abdul. "To have the experience go in the memory ... forever."

Tom Angleberger can be reached at
381-1663 or This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.