A Tavern Emerges
Garland Taylor opens his 10th restaurant next month, veering off the sports-bar path to create a new destination, the Urban Tavern, near Short Pump. He's taking over the former Shackleford's space at 10496 Ridgefield Parkway, removing every trace of its former décor and bringing in modern design, an emphasis on craft beer and a taste-tested menu — and the experience to know how to run it.
Taylor says the Urban Tavern "is not a geographical reference, but an experiential one," where guests will find the metal, concrete and reclaimed-wood elements of an industrial pub. Gone is the former deck, to be replaced with a patio, and the design reflects the food-and-beer pairings and full bar that are central to the concept.
Taylor created and owns three Home Team Grill sports bars and through the years ran a series of Main Street businesses (Easy Street, Coyote's, Castle Thunder) and Garland's Way in western Henrico County. He has a federal trademark on Home Team and acknowledges that the Urban Tavern brand could lead to offshoots too.
"The tuition isn't cheap," he says of the learning experience that comes with operating a successful food empire. "I want to get it right. You start doing this and you realize it costs a lot to be wrong. We think we have gotten better but we haven't cracked the code" of permanent profitability, but says his research affirms the current strategy.
The news comes on the heels of Ted Santarella's plans to open Tarrant's West nearby. Tazza Kitchen also is drawing crowds in the neighborhood, and Taylor takes note: "I am always a fan of more independent guys out here. It's friendly and I'm impressed with what Tazza is doing."
This month traditionally is Taylor's busiest for the Home Team Grills, and he hopes to open the Urban Tavern by mid-April. "We've pushed the line a few times" to get to that point, he says, but as equipment and furnishings come in and decorative elements are completed, he's nearly ready for the big reveal. Stay tuned.
Africanne again: Chef Ma Musu, long known for her African cuisine and heritage, is bringing new energy to the former Parkside Café at 3514 Forest Hill Ave. She's opening a second location and repainting is in progress. Ma Musu's buffet of traditional Southern, West African, vegetarian, African diaspora and Caribbean dishes is one of downtown's lunchtime classics at 200 E. Main St. She eschews sugar and salt in favor of nuanced spicing. An opening is expected next month.
Germanic tendencies: Metzger Bar & Butchery has sold out its initial appearance, a pop-up dinner at the Roosevelt on March 30. Chef Brittanny Anderson and Brad Hemp are opening the German-inspired restaurant and butcher shop at 801 N. 23rd St. in Church Hill this spring, promising krauts, schnitzels and more in a neighborhood that continues to attract culinary talent and customers who support it. metzgerbarandbutchery.com.
Beer and 'burbs: Brew, the Chesterfield County gastropub that successfully carved its niche, holds a Goose Island beer dinner March 20. A six-course menu of sweetbreads, strawberries, shrimp and steak, among many flavors and beers to complement them, runs $85 per guest, including tax and gratuity. Reserve at 454-0605. 6525 Centralia Road. brewgastropub.com.
Vino with Paolo: Antonio's Ristorante and Wine Bar in Chester holds a series of events this season. Of note is a guest chef appearance by Paolo Randazzo of Portico on River Road in Goochland County. He'll be joined by wine educator Carol Colby in presenting wine pairings for a multicourse Italian dinner by reservation only. The event is April 8, starting at 6:45 p.m. 11956 Ironbridge Plaza, Chester. 768-4255. antoniosandcesares.com.
King conch: Restaurateur Bob Cox is in the running for Man of the Year to benefit the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society. He owns Conch Republic in Rocketts Landing and is part owner of Curbside Café in the Fan. Find out more about the cause and how to donate at mwoy.org/va.