Written By: Scott Wharton
Edited By: Journey Clark
Photos By: Scott Wharton, Steve Gonzalez, and Others
Growing up in Fredericksburg, there are certain businesses that are important to you because of the memories and nostalgia you have associated with those locations.
One of those places, for me, is the Recreation Center in downtown Fredericksburg. For my family, Rec Center chili dogs were a tradition; and I can gladly remember when my Grandma would take me to the Rec Center after a day of shopping and walking around downtown Fredericksburg.
In our family, if you were in downtown Fredericksburg for ANY reason, it was imperative that you didn’t leave without first devouring a chili dog from The Rec Center!
As a kid, I remember sitting in one of their booths, feeding pocket change to the tabletop jukebox and listening happily as another Johnny Cash song came on.
I can remember the room being filled with the haze of cigarette smoke, and hearing the sharp crack of the billiard balls banging against each other.
This was the Wharton home away from home, ever since my grandfather was a boy in the 1940’s. Back then hot dogs, hamburgers, and sodas were only a nickel a piece, and beer cost only a dime a bottle.
A lot has changed since then, but the warm nostalgia of the Rec Center remains the same!
The Recreation Center has been serving up LIVE music and chili dogs since James Virvos opened its doors in May of 1940. Since then James Virvos has passed, but the legacy of his vision is still very much alive. Virvos passed the establishment down to his son and it was eventually taken over by Victoria Phillippe.
Victoria ran the eatery for 30 years, until this past summer when she sold the business to Melissa and Keith Anderson.
Victoria turned down multiple offers from several potential buyers because many wanted to remodel the building and change the business. Melissa and Keith saw the beauty and potential in it, though, which is what ultimately led to them being the ones trusted with purchasing and being the new owners of the legendary venue.
I wanted to learn what inspired both Melissa and Keith to take over this historic establishment and what their goals with the venue were.
With the Hoodie Goodies team helping me, I decided to interview Melissa Anderson and ask her a few questions!
Hoodie Goodies: Hi Melissa thanks for taking the time to meet with us! We have a few questions for you...
Hoodie Goodies: So why did you buy the Rec Center?
Melissa: “It is a historic landmark that I don’t want to see go. It’s always been a comfortable, fun place for my band to play, and every other band or musician I know who has played there in the past. It has a nostalgic, cozy atmosphere that makes people feel comfortable and all the potential to build an amazing community of live entertainers of all elements and supporters.”
Hoodie Goodies: You’re a musician turned venue owner, what do you think about the local music and art culture?
What role do you see the Rec Center playing in the growth of local creatives?
Melissa: “I think that Fredericksburg, and the surrounding counties, have an abundance of fantastic artists with such a wide range of talent. We hope to provide the artists who are new, misunderstood, stigmatized, outcast, or whatever that may be, the same opportunity as the more recognized artists.”
Melissa: “All art has its place and that is the heartbeat of why my husband and I are here. We believe that with time and consistency, we can not only provide a consistent venue for metal, punk, bluegrass, and country, but also for other entertainers and patrons who just want a laid back place to unwind.”
Hoodie Goodies: Are you doing any weekly events?
Melissa: “As for weekly events, we host Music Open Mic Wednesday, Open Jam Sundays, as well as live music every Friday and Saturday night. Recently we’ve begun hosting Comedy Open Mics too!”
Hoodie Goodies: What other types of events are you looking to host?
Melissa: “While our focus is on the music scene, if we have an artist come in and ask to put on a show we’re ready to work with them. So yes, of course, we’re open to Art, Poetry, and more!”
Hoodie Goodies: Are there any upcoming events that you’re excited about?
Melissa: “December 7th we are having our “Holly Jolly Hate Fest”. It’s a metal-hardcore-punk festival that is a “Toys For Tots” benefit. We also have for New Year's Eve night a special Roaring 20’s themed SpeakEasy Party!”
Hoodie Goodies: Is there anything else you’d like to tell us?
Melissa: “Since we have been here in July, we have met so many awesome people, experienced and enjoyed great music of many, MANY genres, and even gotten some giggles with great comedians."
Melissa: "We love the opportunity to grow with everyone who wants to be a part of what we are trying to do for artists, and keeping the history of The Recreation Center FXBG alive! P.S. our chili dogs are banging come try one :) !”
The Recreation Center understands the importance of supplying a supportive environment for creative artists to perform, grow, and thrive. They also know local residents, both old and young, want to have fun and enjoy good times, good music, and good food!
Melissa and Keith see the significance that creative culture has on a city. They recognize that the city of Fredericksburg as a whole and its artistic scenes are on the rise.
It’s evident when you speak to the owners that they’re more concerned about providing a good experience for visitors. The Anderson’s have poured their hearts and soul into this venue. This is one of the main reasons why I, as a member of the community, patron of their business, and as a local performing artist, believe that The Recreation Center is going to be a great spot for nurturing Fredericksburg’s artistic underground.
Fredericksburg and The Rec Center are both on the rise as creative hubs, both locally and regionally, on the East Coast. Artists and audiences are ready to experience new and exciting live-music and live-entertainment. The Recreation Center in downtown Fredericksburg is ready to help nourish that growth!
You can stay up-to-date with the latest news and event information for the Recreation Center by following them on social media!
Scott Wharton is a stand-up comedian from Fredericksburg Virginia.
Scott is a writer and team member for Hoodie Goodies. Scott contributes articles each month to the Hoodie Goodies blog!
When he is not busy doing comedy or writing, Scott prefers to explore the country on a Greyhound bus or exploring his mind with entheogenic substances.
He is always accompanied by his dog Bo.
CHECK OUT MORE SCOTT WHARTON BY VISITING THEIR SOCIAL MEDIA AT: