Monday, September 30, 2019


River City Market offers affordable, EBT-accepted groceries to Brookland Park.

Posted By on Mon, Sep 30, 2019 at 4:08 PM

When she turns 75, Zatima Brown vows to put her agriculture degree to work. Her eyes crinkle when mentioning the farmland she’s been eyeing in Nelson County and how one day, it’ll be part of what she passes on to her six children.

But for now, the Brooklyn native happily stands at the helm of River City Market, Brookland Park’s newest grocery store that offers natural, Virginia-grown produce.

Even before opening May 11, Brown’s homemade veggie burgers, blackberry jams and herbal supplements — sold under her company True Seeds, LLC — were hits at farmers markets.

Now she’s excited for people to have access to her food more than just one day a week.

When she was raising her kids in Highland Park nearly 15 years ago, the closest grocery store options were a Walmart or a Food Lion, which were always outside of the neighborhood.

“All of us don’t have transportation,” she says. “It takes me two or three minutes to get here but that’s with my car. … Imagine walking from my home to Kroger. Oh, that’s at least an hour walk.”

After downsizing and moving back to the neighborhood, Brown made it a mission to become certified to accept electronic benefit transfer, a card for low-income people to purchase food using the supplemental nutrition assistance program, known as SNAP benefits. She explains that the community is diverse in terms of income, which is why it’s important for her to keep River City Market affordable.

A tour around the few hundred square feet that make up the space gives quick glimpses as to how Brown achieves this: Almost everything is local and targeted to customers.

She’s surveyed the people in the community on what they want to see in the store and her partnership with Shalom Farms allows Brown to stock the produce section with what the neighborhood needs rather than buying in bulk. Currently, it’s stocked with a shipment of kale, carrots and mangoes brought in Tuesday.

When she points to her section of staples consisting of various seasonings, local rice and pancake mixes, she gets excited about how a local resident who makes hot honey suggested putting it on chicken. When mentioning a local producer whose carrot cakes are constantly being sold, she begins laughing.

“Of course everybody loves them!” she says. “This shelf goes consistently.”

Mike Hatcher, the owner of Michaela’s Bakery across the street, comes in for some peaches as Brown mentions the time someone told her to have workers of “lighter complexion” than Brown, her family or other people of color.

When Brown asked her why, the woman said “people like to see [then trailed off].”

“I did take it as somewhat of an insult, but one thing’s for sure,” says Brown, who’s also the student director at Muhammad University of Islam on Main Street and proudly wears a headpiece she calls a half-moon for its shape. “Why wouldn’t I want the public to know it’s me here? Give them the option to spend time with me and see that I’m nobody to be afraid of. Why not?”

River City Market
16 W. Brookland Park Blvd.
Mondays - Fridays 10 a.m. - 7 p.m.
Saturdays 9 a.m. - 7 p.m.
Sundays 10 a.m. - 5 p.m.

Wednesday, September 18, 2019

High Tides and Good Vibes: Island Shrimp Company Offers Tropical Getaway

Posted By on Wed, Sep 18, 2019 at 5:05 PM

If you’re looking to revisit that island resort, Caribbean cruise or even spring break, Island Shrimp Company has got you. The third dining concept from the family that brought us the Boathouse and Casa del Barco, Island Shrimp wants to give guests a mini vacation via a full-on immersion into tropical food, decor and music.

“We felt like this space was craving something new,” says Paige Healy, chief creative officer for parent company the Housepitality Family. “We wanted to connect with people who are used to crossing the river to have dining experiences.”

The eye-catching building in Chesterfield Towne Center is a mashup of turquoise shipping containers, glass walls and balconies. Bright murals, ceiling neon and a turquoise-peach-pink-green color scheme immediately set a tropical vibe. Live Caribbean music will invite dancing on the rooftop deck, where a wide bridge will connect to the forthcoming Casa del Barco next door.

As part of the research for Casa del Barco years ago, the Housepitality Family sent the chef to eat his way through Mexico. Similarly, Healy and concept chef TJ Borawski hit food trucks in Hawaii, cookouts in Jamaica and eateries in the Bahamas to develop the Island Shrimp menu.

The food hits the concept home, with island-inspired dishes like four different shrimp options, poke nachos, chicken curry bowl, sofrito shrimp dip, mushroom banh mi and papaya salad. The tiki-tinged bar menu includes house-made pina colada and hurricane mixes, fresh-squeezed juices and hollowed-out pineapples as cups. You can even get your spring-break zombie.

Island Shrimp is clearly here to bring big fun to Chesterfield, and there are many on-trend operational details to ensure guests stay in a chill vacation mindset. For example, each table has a colorful coaster-sized card -- place it in a tall wire stand if you need attention. Orders are marked on a bright paper menu, then handed to the server. Getting separate checks? No problem, each paper slip creates an individual bill -- easy on both guests and servers.

“We knew we could bring our high level of service to this idea,” Healy says. “I was inspired by other restaurants in not just Hawaii but London, Rome, New York, all over the world.”

Judging by the long-lived success of the beachside bar at the Boathouse at Sunday Park, Richmond diners will probably cruise right into Island Shrimp Company. It opened on Tuesday, Sept 17 at 3:00 p.m. for happy hour.

Island Shrimp Company

11500 Midlothian Turnpike, Chesterfield, VA 23225

Mon - Thu 11:30 a.m. - 10:00 p.m.

Fri - Sat 11:30 a.m. - 1:00 a.m.

Sun 11:00 a.m. - 10:00 p.m.


Thursday, September 12, 2019

Gingerbread Is Back

Hardywood has announced the release schedule for its series of beloved holiday stouts.

Posted By on Thu, Sep 12, 2019 at 4:00 AM

It tastes like Christmas, it has a cult following and it’ll be available for preorder in a couple weeks. Even sooner if you’re a Family Tree Beer Club member. Yes, of course we’re talking about Hardywood Park Craft Brewery’s coveted Gingerbread Stout (GBS), the seasonal brew with a perfect score of 100 from Beer Advocate magazine that first released in 2011.

Twelve varieties will be available this year, and starting at 9 a.m. on Monday, Sept. 23, you can order the complete set, which includes a bottle of each. You’ve got your original, of course, along with the Christmas Pancakes version featuring maple syrup, Christmas Morning brewed with coffee and the various iterations that are aged in bourbon and brandy barrels. New this year are the Fluffy GBS, brewed with toasted marshmallows, the Frosty GBS with coffee and cacao nibs and the lactose-free Gingerbread Porter.

The original GBS and Christmas Pancakes will be on the menu in the taprooms starting on Saturday, Nov. 2, and the others will debut over the course of every subsequent Saturday through Dec. 14.

Worried they’ll sell out before you’re able to submit your order for the full set? Consider joining the Family Tree Beer Club, which gives you early ordering access along with discounts, special events and a free birthday pint.

Order your GBS set here.

Tuesday, September 10, 2019

Top Chefs

Longoven makes Bon Appetit magazine’s top 50 new restaurants of 2019.

Posted By on Tue, Sep 10, 2019 at 12:52 PM

It’s been an eventful week for Longoven, which continues to rake in national accolades. Six days after the Scott’s Addition restaurant was declared one of “two new enchanting reasons to drive and dine” by renowned restaurant critic Tom Sietsema, Longoven appeared on Bon Appetit magazine’s list of nominees for America’s Best New Restaurants 2019.

It’s the only Virginia restaurant on the list, and other cities represented include New York, San Francisco, Nashville, Philadelphia and Raleigh. Each nominee gets a photo with a short description, and Longoven’s write-up reads “Tweezer food you’ll actually enjoy!” It’s the only description with an exclamation mark, so, extra points for enthusiasm, right?

On Sept. 17, the 50 nominees will be narrowed down to the final Hot 10 list, and a celebration in New York will take place Oct. 19.

Andrew Manning, Patrick Phelan and Megan Phelan quickly established a following by holding successful pop-ups for three years, and the brick and mortar restaurant opened last summer.

Check out our previous coverage of Longoven here and here.

Monday, September 9, 2019

Back to Business

Riverbend Coffee Co. takes over Captain Buzzy’s Beanery in Church Hill.

Posted By on Mon, Sep 9, 2019 at 2:00 PM

Tasha Bobrosky's 2003 Honda CRV, Tallulah, is a lady of the night.

"She's red, she glows, she's hot," says the co-owner of Riverbend Coffee Co., which took over the infamous Captain Buzzy's Beanery space in Church Hill in July.

Her car complements her husband-turned-business-partner Brian Colegrove's 1995 rusty Dodge Ram frequently parked outside the shop. It makes an ever-so slight-noise when the brakes are pumped, he says, but it does the job.
Today, the truck transports Oreos needed for a Riverbend milkshake — one part of the shop's overhaul of Buzzy's menu.

The couple is quick to say its favorite food item is the Country Peach panini, a savory and sweet combination of country ham, scallion cream cheese, jalapenos and peach preserves. Concocted by a friend who's also a chef, the menu includes a balsamic pork panini with roasted tenderloin, basil and fontina cheese and an ultimate grilled cheese with Gruyere, cheddar and bacon. Nightingale ice cream sandwiches are also available along with smoothies, bagels and scones.

"We're not selling Sam's Club baked goods," Colegrove says with a chuckle. "Everything is baked in-house."

While it's keeping true to Buzzy's classic Sumatra dark roast, Riverbend diversifies its coffee portfolio with Costa Rican beans, a Brazilian medium roast and blueberry coffee. With Bobrosky and Colegrove being new to coffee roasting and business ownership, it's been a chaotic process.

"We're learning as we go, but [our staffers] are awesome people," Colegrove says. "We look to them as to what's next."

Bobrosky's last day as a full-time dietitian before being round-the-clock at Riverbend is coming up. As she mentions it, she remembers when her dream was to be a farmer. Colegrove interjects to say he doesn't know why since she's able to kill a succulent.

Although he's not giving up his day job in telecommunication sales just yet, Colegrove says he's excited to see where Riverbend takes him in a year. Bobrosky looks forward to curbing her recurring nightmares of forgetting how to make a latte or BLT.

"It's so odd because both of us at our jobs are the go-to," Bobrosky says of adjusting to not knowing everything yet. "But we have a lot of backup."

As for revamping the space — which included upgrading the espresso machines and coffee brewers — it was an extensive process. When they say they cleaned the premises with a toothbrush, they're not kidding.

But Bobrosky, a dedicated Buzzy's customer for nearly 10 years and TV fanatic who allegedly wins at "Friends" trivia every time, says it's worth it. The 16-year dietitian always wanted to open a coffee shop that resembled the setting of the '80s show Cheers, where everyone knows everyone and meets up at the neighborhood spot. She even modeled the women's bathroom after Rachel and Monica's apartment in "Friends."

So she welcomes her life feeling like a sitcom.

Included in the character list are staffers who worked at Buzzy's for years — and who Bobrosky and Colegrove say are the backbone of the shop," and the regular customers who've been with Buzzy from the start, such as Eddie Jenkins, a local cop, and Mr. Rucker, who has his designated couch near the window.

The next step for Riverbend? Wholesaling its coffee, potentially establishing a coffee cart and creating a space near Buzzy's classic coffee roaster, a limited edition 1980 Probat GN12, for locals to keep their personal mugs.

"Nobody else is putting their lips on my mug!" Colegrove jokes.

Riverbend Coffee Co.
2523 E. Broad St.
Mondays - Fridays 6:30 a.m. - 7 p.m.
Saturdays 7 a.m. - 5 p.m.
Sundays 8 a.m. - 5 p.m.

Tuesday, September 3, 2019

Armenian Pride

The history behind one of Richmond’s longest running food festivals.

Posted By on Tue, Sep 3, 2019 at 1:00 AM

At lunchtime on a Tuesday in late August, the first floor of St. James Armenian Church is bustling. The 61st annual Armenian Food Festival is less than two weeks away, so it's preparation crunch time for the dedicated team behind the event.

In the kitchen, neat rolls of bourma, a traditional Armenian dessert resembling baklava, line jumbo baking sheets in various stages of production. One apron-and-hairnet-clad volunteer slices the rolled sweets and paints them with butter before popping the pan into the oven, while another drizzles a generous serving of simple syrup over a hot, fresh batch.

In the adjacent room, a multigenerational group of mostly women focus on the early bourma-making steps: gently folding a sheet of phyllo dough in two, painting each side with clarified butter, spreading on a mixture of walnuts, cinnamon and sugar and then, using a small wooden dowel, delicately rolling it into a long, narrow cylinder.

The Armenian Food Festival, which runs Sept. 6-8, started out as a humble bake sale to fund the building of the church. It has since grown into a multiday outdoor event that includes musical performances, a gift shop and an expansive, ever-growing menu of Armenian entrees, sides, desserts, beer and wine.

"In addition to it being a major fundraiser for the church, it's also bringing Armenian culture and history to Richmond and making sure people know about us, everything about us," says Leiza Bouroujian, a committee chairwoman and festival organizer. "We wanted to make sure to give back to the community by exposing them to our wonderful cuisine that we're very proud of."

  • Ash Daniel

Lilly Bouroujian Thomas, Leiza's sister-in-law and a longtime festival organizer whose mother taught her to cook, says the recipes came from the church's original elders, and had already been passed down for generations before the festival started. She and the cadre of cooks, spanning in age from grandparents to adolescents, are protective and loyal to the recipes, while remaining open to adaptations, like folding the phyllo sheets in half during the bourma-making process to prevent rips.

And the preparation will continue through the final day of the festival. Once the team finishes the desserts — roughly 2,500 of each variety — they'll move on to other tasks, like marinating meats for kebabs. Beeshee, a fried dough with syrup, will make its debut on the menu this year, and the hye burger of ground beef and lamb has developed a devoted following. Heaping pots of pilaf, a rice dish with spices and veggies, will continuously make their way from the kitchen to the dining tents throughout the weekend, and she says they anticipate selling out by closing time on Sunday.

Bouroujian Thomas grew up in Lebanon, where her family settled after her grandmother survived the Armenian genocide of the early 1900s. When she arrived in Richmond, the concept of a food festival was foreign but exciting to her, so she was eager to get involved and help cook. In 1994, when her beloved mentor Virginia Ashjian Greene fell ill, Bouroujian Thomas took on more responsibility and became a driving force in the kitchen.

'She was so sick, she said 'Lilly, I want to give you my food festival books. I know you can do this,'" she says. "Every time I think about it, I get goose bumps. I still have her books."

Armenian Food Festival
St. James Armenian Church
843 Pepper Ave.
Friday and Saturday 11 a.m. - 9 p.m.
Sunday noon - 5 p.m.

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