Side Dish 

Does Richmond have too many restaurants? And can hospital food be good?

Just opened: After some delays in setting up its kitchen, a new branch of the Casa Grande family of local Mexican restaurants is open in Stony Point Shopping Center off Huguenot Road.

Las Casas Grandes features the usual lunch and dinner menu of enchiladas, tacos, tamales and burritos, and it will operate daily. Another location of the chain opened last month in the East End: Los Mariachi at 6233 Mechanicsville Turnpike brings the number of eateries in the group to five.

Cut too thin: Ken Boettcher, owner of the now-closed New York Deli, says Richmond is glutted with restaurants and that simple economics dictated a change for him after 34 years: "There's $40 million worth of new restaurant volume being generated here, but the same pie is being cut in more ways, and the market is saturated." But, he adds, different people view the market differently. To wit, the new owners of his space at 2920 W. Cary St. will redesign the building and turn it into an upscale deli with additional entrees on the menu and a full bar. (See Street Talk, Aug. 31.) Construction begins this month.

Made to order: When fried chicken and spoonbread are on the menu, you're probably not in a hospital. But the chefs at Chesterfield's new St. Francis Medical Center went back to their roots when designing a menu for the facility's café. Southern dishes were popular at the former Stuart Circle Hospital, and they will be re-created in a nod to tradition, along with a long list of foods that won't include green Jell-O. And the Chesterfield café is far from hospital-plain. Plush booths, sleek furnishings and umbrella tables on the terrace give some oomph to the setting, and patients can call for room service. — Deveron Timberlake

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