Rappahannock Oyster Co.’s Travis Croxton loves opening restaurants. He owns 13 and will soon add another. Along with cousin Ryan Croxton, the Rappahannock co-owners plan to open a smaller raw bar next door on East Grace Street called Rapp Sessions, as reported by The Richmond Times-Dispatch. It’ll also serve as a specialty market that will sell their company’s oysters.
In addition, Rapp Sessions will sell its own hot sauce and cocktail sauce, along with other fish, sandwiches, beer and wine.
It’ll also be a great way for diners to cool their heels while waiting for a table at Rappahannock. The Croxtons are building doors to connect the two restaurants. The opening is planned for early fall.
CORRECTION: This article originally stated that the Richmond Times-Dispatch was the first to report about Rapp Sessions. It was actually written about first in the fall in Richmond magazine.
Linda Cox thought there was something missing in the Richmond dining scene. If you wanted a quick dinner for your family, you could order a pizza or get some Chinese takeout, but that was about it.
So, four weeks ago, she and her children, David and Kristel Young, opened Rose & Eddie’s, named after Cox’s grandparents, in the Huguenot Village Shopping Center. You can pick up family-size portions of things like lasagna, shrimp and grits, or pot roast with mashed potatoes, that are ready to go straight to the dinner table. She already has regulars that come in a couple of times a week.
“I like to see families eating together,” Cox says. “I don’t think it happens as much anymore as it should.”
Not everyone has the time or the skill to cook, she says, and Rose & Eddie’s is a way to get real food — not generically modified, antibiotic- and hormone-free — from Cox’s from-scratch kitchen to your house. She’s undeterred by the ingredients’ extra expense. “It’s a much better product.”
Both Cox and her children are restaurant veterans — Cox used to work at Joe’s Inn Bon Air, her daughter is a manager there and her son worked at the restaurant part-time in high school. David Young just got out of the Navy in December and while he was there, he cooked for hundreds on an aircraft carrier. You could say large portions are his specialty.
Cox originally wanted to set up the takeout restaurant as a nonprofit. “The logistics with that were just a nightmare,” she says. “But no one can stop us from giving away food.” She’s contacted churches in Chesterfield to help her to get meals to those who need them.
“Our goal is to earn a living doing what we want to do and to help people — to feed people.”
If you’ve gone by Stratford Hills Shopping Center and noticed that Max’s Positive Vibe Café is closed, you can rejoice instead of worry. The restaurant — which trains and employs people with disabilities in the food service industry — is closed for renovations. The kitchen is getting a makeover and the rest of the place will sport fresh new paint inside and out.
And the best news? Former Country Club of Virginia executive chef Gary Whitecotton is revamping Positive Vibe’s menu. (Whitecotton has been the man behind the food at Positive Vibe’s Coaches' Cook-Off event since its inception.) It’s kind of a big deal.
Look for the grand reopening on Aug. 7. And for more details throughout July, check Positive Vibe’s webpage for updates.
Next week is a chance for some home cooking, if your home happens to have a James Beard-nominated chef who was also an alum of “Top Chef” and “Top Chef Masters” behind the stove. Volt and Family Meal’s chef and co-owner, Bryan Voltaggio, is also the author of “Home: Recipes to Cook with Family and Friends,” released this spring by Little, Brown and Co.
Voltaggio wants you to get a feel for how he cooks when he’s hanging out at his house, so on Tuesday, July 21 and Wednesday, July 22, he’ll serve a three-course meal based on recipes from his book at the Shops at Willow Lawn’s branch of Family Meal. You’ll have plenty of choices: anything from a Caesar salad made with collard greens to meatloaf with sriracha ketchup to a caramel corn sundae. He’ll sprinkle appetizers throughout the tables too.
In between course, Voltaggio will tell the stories behind the recipes that made their way into his book. Tickets that include a signed copy of "Home" are $75 and without it, tickets are $50. Follow this link for more details.
Closed: After months of sporting a “closed for renovations” sign on its front door, Moo Burgers at 309 N. Laurel St. is officially closed, as suspected and confirmed by Richmond BizSense.
Listicles: The Answer Brewpub’s Petty Larceny made Deadspin’s list of 12 IPAs for people who hate IPAs. “It’s simply a dry, floral, very good beer, perfect for hot days or long nights,” Deadspin’s David Obuchowski writes. theanswerbrewpub.com. … And apparently we’re the coolest kids at the party even when we aren’t drinking beer. Richmond grabbed a spot on Wine Enthusiast magazine’s list of the foodie’s five must-see wine country destinations. winemag.com.
Cocktails: Belle & James will throw a bar pop-up at Osaka Sushi and Steak on July 14. Heavyweight mixologist Bobby Krueger will show off an Asian-influenced array of cocktails, and the restaurant’s bar will stay open until midnight. osakasushiva.com.
Lots o’ beer: Arguably the biggest beer event of the year will take place this week, from July 16-18, when the Capital Ale House National Beer Expo takes over the Greater Richmond Convention Center. More than 200 breweries will be on hand for unlimited tastings. You can also fill up on artisan tacos at the second annual Taco Throwdown, presented by Style Weekly, on Friday, July 17, from 5:30-10 p.m. nationalbeerexpo.com.
Celebrate the Night: Center of the Universe Brewery’s Summer Moon Festival is back. Along with 13 local bands, get ready for the real star of the event, local purveyor Anderson’s Neck Oyster Co., which will be shucking and offering its bivalves raw, plus plenty of beer, wine from James River Cellars Winery and food trucks for nonseafood eaters, on Saturday, July 18, from 1-10 p.m. and Sunday, July 19 from 1-8 p.m. cotubrewing.com.
Have a tip about the Richmond restaurant scene? Send it to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Brandon Pearson never thought he’d come back from Thailand. The Sabai co-owner left for a visit five years ago and the country wound up as his permanent home.
“I just fell in love with it from the moment I walked outside of the airport,” he says. “I looked at the sky, all the smog, and the heat hit me, and I knew I was in a completely different world from anything I’d ever known.”
Pearson came back to Richmond last summer when his mother suffered a brain injury in an accident. While here, friend Joe Kiatsuranon of My Noodle & Bar and Mom's Siam convinced Pearson to start a restaurant with him. Along with third partner Jason Lough, Sabai opened in the spring.
“We wanted to give Richmond a taste of real Thai food,” Pearson says, “like the kind you can eat on the streets of Bangkok.”
Although the kitchen and equipment came with the place — the former Yummy Chinese Restaurant at 2727 W. Broad St. — the rest of the restaurant was built from the ground up, and Pearson designed everything himself.
He constructed it all too. “I couldn’t find a contractor to do it the way I wanted it,” he says. Instead, with his background in metalworking, he took on the task, working from a design in his head as he went along.
You’ll find metal partitioning that defines the dining space, and lots of distressed and reclaimed wood. Pearson, who also has a custom furniture business in Scott’s Addition called Scofflaw Industrial, built the tables and chairs from iron and wood-burned yellow pine, as well as the maple-edged bar.
“This isn’t a [classically] Thai design,” Pearson says. “There are all these little hidden places throughout Bangkok that most people would never see,” and he was inspired by the overall feel of bars and restaurants that he’s visited over the years throughout the country.
And no matter how high the temperature gets, the garage doors that front the restaurant roll up at opening time. “It’s on purpose,” he says — “I just wanted to make this feel as Thai as possible.” And that includes the heat.
Right now he’s building furniture for the patio — seven steel, picnic-like tables that should be in this week. Work also has begun on a speakeasy space in the back for private events. It will have its own bar and staff when it opens.
Despite starting two businesses in Richmond, Pearson isn’t putting down roots. He and Kiatsuranon are opening a cocktail lounge and record shop in Bangkok’s Chinatown.
“My home is in Thailand and it always will be,” he says. “This is the longest I’ve ever been away since I first visited. I’m definitely homesick.”CORRECTION: When this article first published, Brandon Pearson's last name was misstated as Pierce. We regret the error.
If you appreciate the fine art of ice sculpture, along with enormous mounds of unlimited shrimp and oysters on the half shell, the Jefferson Hotel has brought back its less expensive annual summer champagne Sunday brunch.
Each week, the food stretches from the steps of the grand lobby all the way to the other end near the gift shop. It's impressive.
Normally, brunch at the hotel will set you back a cool $45, but through Aug. 20, you can keep an extra $7 in your pocket and eat ice cream sundaes and three-cheese grits till you drop for $38. It’s a deal specifically targeted at us, the locals with our noses pressed against the gilt-trimmed windows looking in.
"The chefs also enjoy the opportunity to vary the menu a bit with lighter, summer flavors that are perfect for the hotter weather," says Jennifer Crisp, the Jefferson's public relations manager.
And I saved the best news for last: The lower price also includes "all-you-care-to-drink" sparkling wine. Boom.
Call 649-4677 for reservations -- they’re strongly recommended.
From Miami, Florida to Emporia is almost 900 miles. But the metaphorical distance James Faison traveled is much longer than the geographical distance. As a corporate lawyer with degrees from Harvard and U.Va., he never imagined that he’d end up making bacon just about an hour from where he grew up.
Faison comes from a long line of Virginia farmers. When his grandparents died and left him and his siblings the family farm, the process of shedding his former life was a gradual one, he says. “I loved where I was living [in South Beach], but I had an obligation to my grandparents to get the farm in order. And when you take a step away, you never know where it might lead.”
It lead him back to where he grew up and ignited a passion for Virginia farms. “I wanted to work with as many farmers as possible who do sustainable agriculture,” says Faison. He started Milton’s Local, named after his grandfather, in 2012, and began to sell source-identified beef and pork. That means his products are local, antibiotic-, hormone- and steroid-free and every cut provided to the buyers has the originating farm’s name on it.
The wholesale side of the company sells to about 46 different restaurants, including Rappahannock, Amuse and Kitchen on Cary, among others, plus D.C.-area locations as well.
This past summer, Faison began producing bacon and sausage under a private label. The bacon is thick-cut and meaty, with a luscious smokiness after the eight hours it spends over smoldering hickory. He works with family farms in Pennsylvania certified by the American Humane Society.
The company receives 4,000 pounds of pork bellies at a time to transform into bacon, and Faison says although he’s working to increase the inventory in Virginia, it isn’t there yet.
His next challenge? “I make bacon and my wife doesn’t eat meat,” he says. Bets are on for how long she can last.
You can pick up a package of Milton’s Local at Ellwood Thompson’s Local Market, Stella’s Market, Union Market, Farm-to-Family, Dominion Harvest and soon, Southern Season.
New guys: Joey McCullough and Kevin Mandeville are the new owners of Metro Bar & Grill. Closed last week for a little refurbishment, it’s scheduled to reopen Tuesday, July 7. metrogrillrichmond.com.
Opened: Kohlmann’s Market, the companion store to Perly’s Restaurant and Delicatessen, unlocked its doors at 109 E. Grace St. last week, following in the footsteps of its sister store, Stella’s Market. The name Kohlmann is a nod to owners Kevin Roberts’ and Katrina and Johnny Giavos’ partner, Scott Coleman. The store is open 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. daily. facebook.com/perlysrichmond. … Alberto and Peppino Mastromano opened Ciao Capri earlier this month in the Gleneagles Shopping Center next door to the spot where their first Richmond restaurant, Little Venice, was located, reports Richmond BizSense. Little Venice closed earlier this year. ciaocaprirva.com.
Expanded hours: Perk Coffee & Lunchbox in Bon Air not only has expanded its hours, opening at 6:30 a.m. Mondays-Fridays, but also will offer a weekday happy hour deal in July. From 6:30-7:30 a.m., early birds will get a free small coffee with any purchase. perkbonair.com.
Free tastings: To get out of that rut, take a trip up to Union Hill. Metzger Bar & Butchery is holding free weekly tastings on Saturdays from noon-3 p.m. Past tastings have included German rosés paired with house-made sausages, and Spanish Tempranillo to sip alongside pork leberwurst and chicken liver mousse. metzgerbarandbutchery.com.
Kitchen takeover: Chef J. Frank, owner of Dixie Donuts, is popping up at Cask Café on Thursday, July 9, with a cool summer menu. You’ll find grilled and chilled Alaskan ivory king salmon, tuna tomato tartare and local corn salad with arugula-corn cakes, along with the cafe’s extensive beer selection. thecaskrva.com. … And Chinese pop-up joint, the Jackdaw, will be slinging congee, dan dan noodles and steamed buns with barbecued duck hot dogs, among other things, July 12 from 5:30-9:30 p.m. at Shoryuken Ramen at 900 W. Franklin St. Call 855-4246 to reserve your spot. thejackdawrva.com.
Spicy music: Daddy G’s Rockin’ Salsa creator Chris Galiffa, along with musical partner David Hunter, will bring their stripped-down duo, Fredds Unplugged, to Isley Brewing Co. on Saturday, July 11, from 6:30-9:30 p.m. You can expect few chips and fine salsa to go along with the music too. facebook.com/daddygsrockinsalsa.
Smoky sipping: Puff on a stogie from Cigar Realm at James River Cellars Winery’s third annual Smoke and Vine Festival on Saturday, July 11, from 4-10 p.m. Wine, beer, food and live music will be on offer — and for the nonsmoker, fear not, this event is for you too. Cigar-puffers will be sequestered to their own smoker’s patio — with a great view of the stage. Tickets are $30. jamesrivercellars.com.
Jay Ko and Michael Ng are an unlikely pair, according to Ng. Ko, owner of JKogi Seoul Street Eats on Second Street, next door to Ng’s Thai Corner, is young, ambitious and brash. When he came to Ng with big ideas about opening a restaurant, Ng wasn’t ready to go that far. He wanted to be a landlord and Ko needed to get his feet wet as a first-time restaurant owner. The two decided Ko would take over the former Andale space, do takeout and delivery, and Ng would see how it went.
It was an overwhelming success. Ng was impressed with how Ko handled it — there were none of the stutters and rocky moments that can trip up a fledging business. “The sales have been ridiculous for just takeout and delivery,” says Ng.
Ko never stopped trying to persuade Ng to join him at JKogi. And finally, after a lot of negotiation about how a partnership would work between the two, last week Ng agreed. It was time for JKogi to expand. It had to expand.
Thai Corner is now closed and after renovations that will include taking over the space next door to make a bigger kitchen, it will reopen as under the JKogi name for sit-down dinner service in about six or seven weeks. Takeout and delivery will continue, but lunch is something that the two will reconsider in the future. The three Thai Cabin carts are currently getting a paint job and will hit the streets in a week rebranded and serving bulgogi instead of pad thai.
Ng and Ko have big plans for JKogi. The spot on Second and East Marshall Streets will serve as a prototype for others in northern Virginia and North Carolina. The two aren’t looking to franchise the restaurant, however. “We want to keep it local. The quality of the food is the most important thing to us,” Ng says.
For Ng, the opportunity will bring more of something he wants in his life — family-time: “Jay said to me, ‘No more physical work, I want 100 percent of your brain.” That means he'll be out of the kitchen and into the office, managing the business and keeping the kind of hours that will allow for vacations and time with his children. It’s a big shift in perspective for him, but he says, it’s time.
“I’m jumping for joy right now,” he says with a smile. “You just can’t tell.”