By EVAN HICKS
These days, it seems like every politician, pundit, and Internet naysayer is jumping proclaim the American Dream dead or dying, but on a little street in downtown Fredericksburg, the American Dream is alive and well and open for business.
Fizzlebottom’s Café is a simple, diner-esque eatery located in the Made in Virginia Store on Caroline Street across from Capital Ale House.
The café serves soups, gourmet sandwiches, sausages and hotdogs. Ingredients are kept as natural as possible and preservative free. All of the sandwiches are made to order.
For dessert, Fizzlebottom’s serves ice cream, milkshakes and a selection of gourmet fudge.
Fizzlebottom’s is run by Chef Justin Cunningham and his wife Nichole Cunningham, a University of Mary Washington alumna who earned her master’s degree in December and now teaches special education at Stafford High School.
While Fizzlebottom’s has been open for less than two months, the café represents the culmination of more than a decade of hard work for Justin Cunningham.
“Opening Fizzlebottom’s has been a dream of his for years and we are both very excited that it has become a realit,” Nichole Cunningham said.
“I’ve always wanted to have my own place. It’s pushing fifteen years now,” Justin Cunningham said. “I started off cooking at a small seafood restaurant, then I went to culinary school in Palm Beach and I started working at PJ Nationals, which was like a giant resort, almost like its own little city, which was cool because I got to work in all their restaurants. They had Italian fine dining, a steak house, a sports bar, and a country club. It was a great place to learn.” Eventually, Cunningham took a job as a sous-chef at a women’s dining club in DC.
“I don’t even know how to describe it,” he said. “It was very high end and the chef there was amazing. He’s the one that taught me most of what I know. That was where I got my first chef position, as a sous-chef, then I got a job at a country club. After about three years there, I opened Fizzlebottom’s.”
The curious name of the café comes from an early episode of “The Simpsons” in which Bart writes a play that includes a character named “Viceroy Fizzlebottom.” At 10 years old, Cunningham found the character hysterical.
When Cunningham took an online poll of several name choices for his café, “Fizzlebottom’s” was chosen almost unanimously, beating out such gems as “The Gilded Spoon” and “The Charging Rhinoceros Café.”
All UMW students get an 11 percent discount when they show their student ID, and on Tuesdays, Fizzlebottom’s offers $2 chili dogs. So, if a break from the corporatized fast-food machine sounds good, head down to Fizzlebottom’s Cafe for some friendly service, old-time charm, and great food.