Tuesday, May 27, 2014

Short Order

RVA Food News: Metzger Bar and Butchery preview, Shockoe tapas transition + more.

Posted By on Tue, May 27, 2014 at 1:00 AM

More Perfect Union

Richmond's food revolution moves into a new — and very old — neighborhood next month when Metzger Bar and Butchery opens in Union Hill. That's a few blocks' stroll from the Roosevelt, Alamo BBQ, Union Market, SubRosa Bakery and other bastions of Church Hill dining.

Metzger brings a crisp, rustic style to a building that used to be the Duck Inn and other haunts, bordered by sprawling Cedar Street Baptist Church. The corner spot at 801 N. 23rd St. was love at first sight for chef Brittanny Evans Anderson, who owns the business with Brad Hemp of Sausagecraft and Nathan Conway, formerly of Secco Wine Bar, Yellow Umbrella and Relay Foods.

Eighteen months later, the building's been transformed by white tile, white oak and a singular focus on sustainable, German-influenced food and drink. Metzger means butcher in German.

"I'm not joking around," Anderson says of the venture. She's amiable but serious about food, parlaying her classical training at Manhattan's French Culinary Institute into a stint at the Roosevelt, working with chef Lee Gregory, and wowing diners with a few recent food event run-ups.

"We want to be a place — it's called the third space of a community — where people can gather, where they can stop in, no pretense or dress code, and hang out," she says. "For them to know where their food is coming from — that's important to me."

Metzger will have two facets, a 28-seat dining room with another dozen spots at the long, live-edge oak bar, and a retail corner for special cuts of meat, whole chickens, brined pork chops, wine and beer. A schnitzel of the day, sauerkraut and potato dishes, a smoked carrot salad, and various wursts and brats will change with the seasons, with sandwiches in the $8 range and entrees mostly less than $20. It will serve dinner nightly except Mondays, and expects to add weekend brunch later.

And lest diners think competition is ugly in this town, Anderson says they've received generous enthusiasm and support from industry leaders, including Gregory and Kendra Feather of the Roosevelt, Jay Bayer of Saison and Julia Battaglini of Secco, among many others. Follow the opening announcement at metzgerbarandbutchery.com.

Buying Power

Europa, the long-running tapas spot in Shockoe Bottom, has been in the process of changing hands for many months. Now its new owners have sealed the deal. David Bess and Matthew Busch, who operate Society American Bistro and Cha Cha's Cantina in the same block, will turn Europa into Torero Tapas Bar & Grill (torero is Spanish for matador). They expect to open June 25 at 1409 E. Cary St.

Downstairs, an adult lounge called Ibiza will cater to the 25-and-older crowd. "It's not a nightclub," Bess says, but a more sophisticated hangout.

Upstairs, new paint and commissioned artwork will add some Spanish ambience. Steaks and tableside sangria will be menu highlights, along with entree-sized portions of familiar flavors and Spanish-inflected tapas that encourage sharing and conversation. The kitchen will stay open until midnight on weekends, and nightly happy hour will pair certain cocktails with complimentary tapas.

"We're trying to bring back what they were so great at," Bess says of Europa's long legacy in the private party and rehearsal-dinner circuit. "I told Michelle Williams [of Richmond Restaurant Group, which sold this holding] that I hope to do it justice, that she's passing the torch and it's in good hands."

Open and Shut

Signs are up announcing the impending arrival of Grace Noodle at 1823 E. Main St in the short-lived Goree African Restaurant in Shockoe Bottom, adding more fuel to the noodle trend that started here last year.

Selba at 2416 W. Cary St. has closed, ostensibly for the summer, according to its Facebook announcement earlier this month. New potential owners are considering the spot, which transformed an auto shop into a garden room and restaurant with live music. It opened in May 2011.

Belle Vie, the Belgian restaurant in Midlothian, has closed. Its owners opened Brux'l in the Fan, in the former Peacock's Pantry space at 1731 W. Main St., over the weekend. Style profiled chef Xavier Meers last fall.

Six new guest rooms are open at the vaunted Inn at Little Washington in Rappahannock County. They're part of a renovation that adds the Parsonage building to self-taught chef Patrick O'Connell's destination restaurant and hotel. It's the longest-tenured AAA five-star restaurant in the country. A charity open house and afternoon tea are scheduled June 10 to unveil the new decor. Details at theinnatlittlewashington.com.

Nile Ethiopian Restaurant announces it will close July 13 following a 9-year run at 309 N. Laurel St. A new venture is in the works and will be announced soon.

Now Serving

Fancy Asian Gourmet: Sushi, Japanese and Chinese dishes, noodles to fried ice cream. Lunch and dinner daily. 7048 Forest Hill Ave. 560-5566. fancyasiangourmet.com.

Nacho Mama's Bar & Grill on the Boulevard: Tex-Mex and American foods in sibling to the popular Carytown cafe. Poolside bar license pending. Open daily. 3207 N. Boulevard in Clarion Hotel. 359-9441. nachomamasrva.com.

The Broadberry: Live music venue with bar, patio, happy hour, burgers, fish tacos, veggie bowl, pub snacks, swanky scene. Open show nights only. 2729 W. Broad St. 353-1888. thebroadberry.com.

Pelon's Baja Grill: Tacos, burritos and full menu of Mexi-Cali fare and spirits, breakfast to dinner Monday-Saturday. 2231 Dabney Road. 562-4187. pelonsbajagrill.com.

Caribbean Seafood Jamaican Jerk House: Takeout shop for oxtail, curry goat, jerk chicken, fried fish, island sides. Lunch and dinner Monday-Saturday. 1203 Westover Hills Blvd. 291-1100.

Lamplighter Roasting Co.: Third location of quality coffee shop with creative food, beer and wine. Dine in and outside. Daily 7 a.m.-7 p.m. 26 N. Morris St. lamplightercoffee.com.

Chef MaMusu's African Caribbean Cuisine: Longtime chef Ida Daniels and team prepare vegetarian, meat and seafood dishes with traditional spices and techniques. Lunch and dinner Tuesday-Sunday. 3514 Forest Hill Ave. 912-2812.

Saison Market: Select groceries and growlers, foods with flourish from chef Adam Hall, neighborhood hotspot adjoins busy gastropub in Jackson Ward, 8 a.m.-midnight. 23 W. Marshall St. saisonrva.com.

Shyndigz: New location for dessert emporium with cake, pie, cobblers, wine and beer, coffees. Patio and in-house dining, busy spot for sugar fix. Wednesday-Saturday. 1903 W. Cary St. 938-3449. shyndigz.com.

Tuesday, May 13, 2014

Short Order

RVA Food News: Behind the Scenes of a Restaurant Sale

Posted By on Tue, May 13, 2014 at 1:00 AM

Trading Places

Business has never been better for Nathan Hughes, a commercial real estate agent who brokers many of the city's most prominent restaurant transactions.

He's a partner at the newly renamed Bandazian & Hughes, a 40-year-old firm where he's worked since 2005. The lifelong Richmonder sees restaurants at their best, worst, and as they change hands. Lately there's been so much activity it's rare to have a week when he isn't revealing some kind of news.

Among the recent deals brokered by the firm are El Tango, coming to Shockoe Bottom in the former Maximo's, MBargo in the former M Bistro at Rocketts Landing, Nora Taste of Lebanon in the former Riad on West Broad Street, Continental Divide in the Fan and 10 Italian Café in Carytown.

Hughes is on the board of directors for the Richmond Association of Realtors and is on the commission of architectural review for the city of Richmond.

Restaurant buyers are stepping up: "For a long time all anybody wanted was a failed restaurant that was really cheap, that they would put very little money into. Now they're willing to pay for a profitable business, keeping the existing format. They're looking for quality businesses, something they can run as-is and improve on, instead of scrapping everything that was there — although there's still some of that too."

One of the downsides of selling a restaurant can be the smell: "Doing this, you get used to the smell of a closed restaurant. Even if it's not dirty, the residue, the old food, all the dirt from the years just adds up. Even worse, which happens a lot, is they'll get locked out and leave all the food in the restaurant, in the sink and on the tables. Some are pristine, but no matter how clean I think it is, whoever buys it always cleans it up. We've seen plenty where a tenant left and we are surprised that the Health Department let it stay open — that's the bad. But there are a lot of chefs and owners who take a lot of pride in their equipment and keep it up and cleaned, and with all of these open kitchens now, you can see them yourself."

It's tactical to keep a for-sale business under wraps: "If they are trying to sell, make sure that person understands the confidential nature of that listing. Too often I've seen someone who is careless. As soon as you announce that you're selling, people start running — they tend to jump to the bad scenario. It sends the wrong message that they're not making any money, which is not necessarily the case, or changing their concept, so employees become more careless, and a lot of times theft goes up and customers are scared away."

A price can get emotional: "If you're selling, don't get so stuck on the price that you're willing to walk away from it and get nothing. We've seen that too often when they're unrealistic on the price. The value is not the money that you put into it, it's what it's worth to someone walking in today. There may be improvements and equipment, but the real value is in the cash flow. Or on the low end, it's an asset sale, but it's worth more in place as an operating restaurant than by selling off the pieces."

Perly's is an example of a big recent deal: "It seems like everybody had eaten in Perly's, it's such an institution, and Gray Wyatt is a great guy. It really meant a lot to be able to help him out of that situation, and it was quite a complicated process to get that one sold. But it meant a lot that it went to some really good restaurateurs, [Johnny Giavos and developer Scott Coleman], and for them to bring in [Kevin Roberts of] the Black Sheep — what they're talking about doing honors the legacy of Perly's and brings something fresh."

The #RVAdine community attracts investors from elsewhere: "I like all of the national attention that comes with the outsiders [such as Mike Isabella's Graffiato, opening here this summer]. I think the people who are coming here understand our Richmond dining culture, how we support one another, which I hear is unusual. I think of all the creativity and energy, all of the professionalism and pride, that's a big piece of it — all the RVA stickers everywhere —people are proud to be from here and are so excited about what is going on, about small businesses that start here and are growing."

------

Vendor alert: Southern Season, the upscale specialty grocer coming to Libbie Mill this summer, is asking potential local-foods vendors who want to sell or demonstrate products or teach cooking classes to get in touch via nghitelman@southernseason.com.

Soft season: Chef Dale Reitzer's touch with soft shell crabs gives Acacia extra reason to celebrate spring. Find the velvet delicacies procured from Ricky Walton of Urbanna on the menu at 2601 W. Cary St., 562-0138. acaciarestaurant.com.

Chef addition: Amour Wine Bistro has reopened following a fire and added chef Bill Foster to the Rob Hamlin-led kitchen. 3129 W. Cary St. 353-4020. amourwinebistro.com.

Now Serving

Nacho Mama's Bar & Grill on the Boulevard: Tex-Mex and American foods in sibling to the popular Carytown cafe. Poolside bar license pending. Open daily. 3207 N. Boulevard in the Clarion Hotel. 359-9441. nachomamasrva.com.

The Broadberry: Live music venue with bar, patio, happy hour, burgers, fish tacos, veggie bowl, pub snacks, swanky scene. Open show nights only. 2729 W. Broad St. 353-1888. thebroadberry.com.

Pelon's Baja Grill: Tacos, burritos and full menu of Mexi-Cali fare and spirits, breakfast to dinner Monday-Saturday. 2231 Dabney Road. 562-4187. pelonsbajagrill.com.

Caribbean Seafood Jamaican Jerk House: Takeout shop for oxtail, curry goat, jerk chicken, fried fish, island sides. Lunch and dinner Monday-Saturday. 1203 Westover Hills Blvd. 291-1100.

Lamplighter Roasting Co.: Third location of quality coffee shop with creative food, beer and wine. Dine in and outside. Daily 7 a.m.-7 p.m. 26 N. Morris St. lamplightercoffee.com.

Chef MaMusu's African Caribbean Cuisine: Longtime chef Ida Daniels and team prepare vegetarian, meat and seafood dishes with traditional spices and techniques. Lunch and dinner Tuesday-Sunday. 3514 Forest Hill Ave. 912-2812.

Saison Market: Select groceries and growlers, foods with flourish from chef Adam Hall, neighborhood hot spot adjoins busy gastropub in Jackson Ward, 8 a.m.-midnight. 23 W. Marshall St. saisonrva.com.

Shyndigz: New location for dessert emporium with cake, pie, cobblers, wine and beer, coffees. Patio and in-house dining, busy spot for sugar fix. Wednesday-Saturday. 1903 W. Cary St. 938-3449. shyndigz.com.

Foo Dog: Busy bar scene with Asian street food, noodle soups, seafood, snacks and spirits. Tuesday-Sunday from 4 p.m. Closed Monday. 1537 W. Main St. 342-1800. foodogrva.com.

Tuesday, May 6, 2014

Whole Foods Enters City Limits

Grocery store fires up RVA market competition

Posted By on Tue, May 6, 2014 at 4:00 AM

As first reported by Richmond magazine, Whole Foods announces it is opening a second location in Richmond proper, on land owned by C.F. Sauer Company, the spice maker at 2000 W. Broad St.

With this news, the RVA grocery wars continue to escalate. Wegmans announced its entry into the field two weeks ago, with locations planned for Short Pump and Midlothian. Kroger recently opened another of its superstores on Staples Mill Road, offering NY-based Murray's Cheese and a plethora of local foods. Southern Season says its Richmond location at Libbie Mill is set to open this summer, offering an upscale shopping experience that’s award-winning and buzz-generating.

Whole Foods isn’t giving an opening date, but its arrival has been rumored for months. Stay tuned for details.

Short Order

RVA Food News: Seasonal updates, Bacchus anniversary + more.

Posted By on Tue, May 6, 2014 at 1:00 AM

Mexican Al Fresco

Terrace dining brings a new dimension to Maya Mexican Grill and Tequila Lounge in Short Pump, a popular spot to sample chef Maria Oseguera's creative cuisine and house-made salsas. 4348 Pouncey Tract Road. 360-0942. mayarva.com.

Collaborative brews: Cask Café & Market celebrates American craft beer week with an event May 13. "We've got our hands on some of the most exciting brewery collaborations," co-owner David Garrett says, "like Legend and Williamsburg Alewerks, to Greg Self's beer brewed with Champion in Charlottesville, plus some gems that partner some of the most creative movers and shakers in the biz." Pizza Tonight will be cooking pies on-site. 206 S. Robinson St. 355-2402. thecaskrva.com.

Seasonal updates: C Street Café in Carytown rolls out new menus for brunch and dinner, with spring pea, potato and leek soup, baked rainbow trout, stuffed pancakes, and more in this quietly elegant, service-minded spot with porch and patio dining. New manager Lili Michie brings an extra dose of hospitality to the business. 3325 W. Cary St. 355-2200. cstreetrva.com.

Reader mail: "Hey just thought I'd give you two more suggestions you ought to try if you really love tacos. Habanero off Quioccasin, same shopping strip as Trax, has the best carnitas. Hands down. And in the same shopping strip as La Cabana, on the other end of the strip, there is another taco joint attached to a little bodega. Forget the name of it, but great, great tacos. No English. Cash only. And the bodega has fresh chicharonnes and fried pork belly. The taco places you listed are good, but can't touch these two." — Steven Chung

Long in the tooth: Bacchus celebrates its 15th anniversary this month. Owner Chris DiLauro recalls its origins as Cabo's, Fat Daddy's, Mudbones and others at the once-sketchy corner of Meadow and West Main streets. "I never imagined we'd get to this point — you never know what you're up against" in the business, he says. DiLauro was 29 when he bought the business by mortgaging his house. The culinary grad remains hands-on in the kitchen a few nights a week, and pasta, fried goat cheese salad, squid and chicken piccata are among his top-selling dishes. His second project, Galley, with Manny Mendez of Kuba Kuba, continues to flourish in Stratford Hills.

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