Opening soon: Bin 22 at Betsy's is a new concept for a popular Carytown corner. Greg and Jen Pullen just closed the deal to buy Betsy's Coffeehouse at 3200 W. Cary St. and will run it as a coffeehouse by day, wine bar by night. "We'll emphasize approachable, affordable wines from all over the world," Pullen says, "and value wines that are interesting and will open consumers' eyes."
The program will include 18 or so wines by the glass, 60 by the bottle and a small-plates menu of light fare including artisanal cheese and meat antipasti, salads and grilled panini.
Greg Pullen, 34, is a University of Richmond graduate from Boston who stayed here to work in wine wholesaling and fine foods at Fox Head Inn, Acacia and J. Emerson. He was a regular at Betsy's and has worked since spring to make the transition happen.
Cosmetic changes at Betsy's are in progress now: new furniture and paint, refurbished outdoor benches and flowerboxes "a little cozier and more Tuscan," Pullen says, with loveseats and coffee tables lending a neighborhood hangout feel. The couple will open the new spot in early September.
Moving: After 13 years on East Main Street, the River City Diner is moving around the corner. Owner Scott Poates bought the buildings at 5-7 N. 17th St., and construction is in progress for a new, less kitschy diner with more subtle details and a slightly more serious approach. It will still serve breakfast all day and comfort foods like meatloaf, pot roast and its ever-popular Reuben, but will also offer specialty salads and pasta. Poates plans to open in late November, in time for the city's Grand Illumination Dec. 2.
Now Serving: The Circus Medi-terranean Grill is open in Innsbrook, serving dinner nightly and adding lunch in mid-September. Greek, Italian and Mediterranean standards come from the owners of The Greek Circus, a longtime West End establishment. Look for feta-stuffed calamari and specialty pizzas in an open-kitchen setting at 4040-B Cox Road.
Final Touches: If there's a word to describe Rhonda Randazzo's emotions lately, it might be euphoric. She and her husband, Paolo, are putting the finishing touches on Sensi, their new restaurant in Shockoe Bottom. They've moved into a loft several floors above the business so they can be close to their children. They've positioned the ostrich-leather barstools and a mesh coil divider that separates lounge from dining room. They've fine-tuned a sexy dinner menu of au courant Italian dishes and wines; they've selected the flatware and plates that will show off each dish.
"It has been a delightful process," Rhonda Randazzo says. "We are flabbergasted every day as we've watched things come together. We all work really well together, and the contractor [Mark Hourigan] has never said no, not one time. They bought into our concept completely and always found the best option to make it happen."
If this sounds more like a fairy tale than reality, the Randazzos know it's not the usual restaurant startup story. So they're counting blessings. And test-driving the final two weeks before opening at 2222 E. Cary St., where they'll offer something new to Richmond: house-made infused liqueurs called digestifs, which are popular in Sicily, with flavors such as hibiscus, bay, fennel and chamomile. Deveron Timberlake
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