Developer Charlie Diradour was surprised that Buddy's Place manager and bartender Jodi Meador thought his company planned to put a fine-dining restaurant in place of the 38-year-old Fan bar when it closes at the end of January.
"We haven't made our minds up about what we're going to do with that property," says Diradour, president of Lion's Paw Development. "It's way too early in the game for that -- way too early."
A Fan institution at Stuart Avenue and Robinson Street, Buddy's is prime restaurant real estate, with high visibility and a faithful clientele who probably will continue to swerve through the bar doors out of deeply ingrained habit long after it closes. What might they bump into -- or what would be best for them to see?
Here are some suggestions:
1. A bar full of aging frat boys who really do love Margaritaville.
2. An upscale casual restaurant with a menu that focuses on pimento cheese -- bacon pimento cheese, wasabi pimento cheese, kimchi pimento cheese. …
3. An oyster bar, because there just aren't enough oysters in this town.
4. Pizza. Everyone likes a slice. Wait. I mean, tacos. Everyone really loves tacos. Or how about a pizza-taco bar that fries up its chips and shells in a vat of boiling oil in a wood-burning oven? Set in the floor? The 12-and-under set will love it.
5. A tiny microbrewery that's willing to take on the Fan District Association and park a food truck on its patio once a week.
6. Fried chicken and doughnuts. This is actually a thing in Washington, and honestly, who isn't behind fried chicken and doughnuts? Let's put an asterisk beside this one.
7. The most interesting thing would be for a celebrity chef to take it over. We already have Graffiato's Mike Isabella, with Bryan Voltaggio on the way. One more and we can start the new Richmond-based competitive reality show, "Last Chef Standing." Who will survive the trek up and down Interstate 95? Who can divide time between three, four or five restaurants and still get to the kid's soccer game? Who can survive with the least amount of sleep without exhibiting signs of psychosis? The prize: You only have to run one restaurant the following year.
8. We need more women chefs in this town. Period. Let's make that happen.
Do you have suggestions?