"I believe in abundance," says Margaret Freund. "The more the better." The high-energy developer with Fulton Hill Properties is living out that credo, pumping new restaurants into Shockoe Bottom and stimulating competition and interest in the area.
First up will be Stool Pigeons in the Canal Crossing building at 15th and Dock streets. The franchise is a neighborhood bar and grill with an Americana menu and will open in mid-April.
Next, Freund and company will introduce two more eateries at Canal Crossing. Each will be operated by a husband-and-wife team with Cordon Bleu pastry training and international hotel experience. "A coffee shop with teahouse qualities and an in-house bakery" is how Freund describes the first venture. Then, across the atrium, an original-concept restaurant by the team will feature fine dining; that space is in the planning stages now, with an opening expected late this year.
Meanwhile, Paolo and Rhonda Randazzo's trattoria, Sensi, is moving into construction mode nearby. "We want to be in the right place at the right time," Paolo Randazzo says, "and we've done our homework. Our food will be simple in presentation but involved in flavor and will focus on what would be found in larger cities." This means seafood, steaks and filled pastas, using cooking techniques the Randazzos pick up on their yearly treks to Italy. Sensi, at 2222 E. Cary St., is expected to open in June.
Bill Chapman, owner of Tonic, and Steve Parry of Bookbinder's are extending their Shockoe Bottom holdings. Sette, at 7 N. 23rd St., opens Friday with brick-oven pizzas and, later this spring, a courtyard for al fresco dining. "This is a place where people can eat for $10 casual but nice, with a neighborhood atmosphere," Chapman says.
At the old Southern Culture restaurant in the Fan, Michelle Williams and Jared Golden are opening a new place with curvy booths and bars, gas fireplaces and a Chris McCray-designed interior. The restaurant will feature upscale diner-eclectic fare and a patio, with an opening planned in September. Williams is working on all cylinders, also launching Michelle's at Hanover Tavern this spring, while running The Hard Shell, Europa, The Hill Café and Lucky Lounge.
At 218 W. Broad St., a new coffee shop, Lift, will jazz up lunchtime for downtown workers. Owners Stephanie and Scott Garnett are installing Chris McCray's "industrial heaven theme," as the designer calls the shop's minimalist aesthetic. Look for Lift to offer sandwiches and ice cream weekdays beginning in June, with special hours during First Friday art walks.
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