Chuck Richardson says his new role on the stage isn't that different from his old role on Richmond City Council 

Street Talk

Richmond Prosecutors Worry: Have You Been Seeing this Man?If You Like Pina Colada, And Getting Caught In The SnowOld McDonald's Buys The FarmHow 'Bout a Little Drosselmeyer With That Tchaikovsky?Chuck Richardson Plays a Preacher ManRichmond Prosecutors Worry: Have You Been Seeing this Man?

Buried in the bulging file-folder of Commonwealth v. Joseph D. Morrissey in Judge Margaret Spencer's Richmond Circuit Court offices is a gem: a Sept. 21 subpoena request from Assistant Commonwealth's Attorney Claire Cardwell for the "copies of any and all advertisements, commercials, and/our photo layouts prepared in connection with Joseph D. Morrissey from 1992 to present."

Seems prosecutors are concerned Jailhouse Joe may be trying to influence potential jurors for his felony assault trial, which starts Wednesday. (Morrissey, 41, allegedly attacked a contractor because he wouldn't get to work fixing his home fast enough.) TV hawks say they've noticed a decided increase in the frequency with which his law firm's spots have been running, and the ads seem to be laying on the man-on-the-street's "Joe Morrissey is just a great guy" opinings pretty thick.

Cardwell appropriately enough will not comment. But defense attorney Larry Catlett thinks he knows what's up with the subpoena: "I suspect that probably they may have thought about a change of venue. What do you think?"

Catlett officially scoffs at jury-shaping suspicions, and Taylor Weirup Advertising Inc. would not comment.

Just don't change that channel: Morrissey also faces a drive by the Virginia State Bar to suspend and possibly revoke his license to practice law. He is expected to face a three-judge panel on the matter later this year.

— R.M.

If You Like Pina Colada, And Getting Caught In The Snow

The Canal Walk's first food vendor has arrived. And while kiwi lime snoballs may be a little out of season, there will be more offerings in the spring.

After spending the summer cooling customers in Shockoe Bottom, Leon Burke has moved his fanciful, yellow-and-white-striped Carolina SnoCream cart to the walk's Virginia Street entrance near the new Turning Basin. He's proud to be the first of what officials say will be six mobile vendors from Brown's Island to the Floodwall at 17th Street.

"The vendors will be spread out, but by next spring we're hoping that you'll be able to get lunch at either end of the Canal Walk," says Jody Lephardt, administrative manager at Richmond Riverfront Development Corp. She adds that offerings probably will range from sandwiches and barbecue to more effete fare such as roll-ups — "that sort of thing."

Candidates are being interviewed now to screen for compatibility with the Walk's "fresh and clean" image, she says. Longer-term, the big old Ladybird Hat Co. building near the Virginia Street entrance will be renovated for sit-down dining and should open within a year and a half, Lephardt says.

For now, it's shaved ice with your choice of nine flavors: bubble gum, blue raspberry, grape, orange, French vanilla, strawberry, wild cherry, kiwi lime and, of course, pina colada. You can add Burke's trademark SnoCream, too ("It's a dairy product, and topped with whipped cream," he reluctantly reveals), "and we'll mix any of the flavors" for free. Get 'em 11:30 a.m. to 7 p.m. through the end of the month.

Business actually is "going pretty good," Burke says. "Not bad. Be better if it were warmer." But loyal customers from his summer location at 15th and Main streets keep him afloat. That and his sense of avoiding controversy.

"I haven't paid any attention to Robert E. Lee," Burke says. "Sometimes they'll ask me where the mural is, but, as a business person, I wouldn't get into any of that."

— Rob Morano

Old McDonald's Buys The Farm

"This location has permanently closed Aug. 31, 1999," the signs read. "Please visit our other nearby locations ...."

Why? What happened here? This McDonald's, near Broad and Belvidere, stands close to one of the city's busiest intersections. Even with the semi-recent appearance of golden arches in a few-miles radius, business here couldn't have been that bad. Could it?

Former employees of the 501 W. Broad St. location now working at the chain's other Richmond franchises point to a slow decline in customers dating from the January 1993 shooting death of a security guard. But nothing catastrophic. Richmond police say things have been comparatively quiet since the crowds of rowdy hundreds congregated here on late-night weekends earlier this decade. And more than a month after closing, the occasional car still pulls in around lunchtime.

But look in the windows, and it's clear this site has been, if not abandoned, put on the corporate back burner. Random store items, cleaning supplies and assorted junk line the counter, tables and floor inside. The only sign of life is a homeless man dozing on the store's low, sun-warmed brick ledge alongside the cross street.

The 501 W. Broad St. property is owned by McDonald's Corp. itself, not a franchisee. A spokeswoman at the company's Norfolk office says "the building itself had become too old for our needs." In other words, we're not telling.

"That facility would not accommodate the Made-For-You system," she explains officially, adding the firm is looking for a nearby replacement site, where the size, layout and electrical infrastructure will enable installation of the new, computer-based Made-For-You system, which is touted as providing fresher, better-tasting burgers and such. ("Actually, the sandwich is not assembled until the customer orders it." Made-For-You will replace the eons-old wrap-it-up-and-toss-it-in-the-bin-until-somebody-buys-it process.)

In any case it's clear that what should be the city's primo retailing spot, netting lots of commuter traffic, isn't.

— R.M.

How 'Bout a Little Drosselmeyer With That Tchaikovsky?

The Germans have been doing it for 400 years. Cracking nuts, with fancy nutcrackers they made by hand.

So says Mechanicsville craftsman turned entrepreneur, Glenn Crider. Now his production company, TRC Design (whose initials stand for three-ring circus), hopes to add his nutcrackers to your Christmas wish list.

Crider, who says his nutcracker hobby dates to the '80s, pitched his idea of specialty nutcrackers to the Richmond Ballet. "Finally, this year, they said 'Let's see what you've got,'" says Crider.

A computer programmer by day, Crider and his production company of eight workers are busy making a custom line of nutcrackers that replicates — in miniature — favorite members of the ballet's cast: Clara, The Mouse King, the Nutcracker Prince and Godpoppa Drosselmeyer. For those who prefer their nutcrackers on a grander scale, Crider has created a 14-inch Nutcracker Prince. "All the pieces will be signed and numbered," says Crider, who plans to make 100 sets of the miniatures and 50 of the 14-inch Nutcracker Prince. But these nutcrackers won't be found in any store. Instead, the Richmond Ballet will sell them throughout the holiday season and at its annual performances of "The Nutcracker." Also, Crider will sell them via his Web site at: http://members.aol.com/trcdesign. For $130, you can crack a winter's supply of pecans and walnuts. That's the price tag on the full-scale model; the miniature collection of four costs $110. And yes, they really work.

— Brandon Walters

Chuck Richardson Plays a Preacher Man

Is Chuck Richardson about to give the performance of his life? Local playwright Tony Cosby hopes so. He hopes, too, that Richmonders will pay to see it.

This November, Richardson will make his theatrical debut at Passions Theater in Cosby's "Preacher Can We Talk?", a two-act play based on the sermon "What's in Your Hand," by the late Adam Clayton Powell Jr. The play, says Cosby, is a dedication to Powell, a black congressman and Baptist preacher from Harlem whose power and politics in the '50s and '60s stirred controversy.

"There are parallels there between him and Chuck," says Cosby, who had shelved the play for two years because he didn't know who could possibly play the flamboyant Powell. Then one day it struck him that Richardson would be perfect for the part. And Richardson, who says he always wanted to try acting, agreed.

"He told me," says Cosby, "'a lot of the stuff you see in City Council is acting.'"

Cosby reports that Richardson is taking his role seriously, memorizing lines and studying a videotape of Powell delivering his sermon. "The hardest part is tracking him down," says Cosby about the former City Council member who now manages CMC Limousine Services.

"I'm not going to shackle him," says Cosby. Still, he wonders just what Richardson could have up his sleeve. "He tells me, 'It's gotta be right, it's gotta be tight. I'm going out on a limb here for you. Is it OK if I add a little something to it?' And I think, Oh, Jesus, he's at it again.'"

And Richardson says Powell's sermon could use a little embellishment. "Some of the analogies could be stronger," persuades the well-suited Richardson. "It could be more powerful."

Cosby sighs. "I'm just gong to cut this loose and see what happens."

— Brandon Walters

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