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After a strong 17-year run, The Ironhorse Restaurant in Ashland is changing hands this week, as owner Mimi Siff sells the business to chef Jay Comfort, formerly of Poste Moderne Brasserie in Washington, D.C.

Longtime Ironhorse chef Patrick Goodsell is taking a position with Dd33 Asian Bistro. Meanwhile, Siff will devote her time to her children and luxuriate in the outpouring of well wishes from customers, who praise her perseverance, poise, and food and wine expertise, honed earlier at Du Jour.

Chef Comfort, whose fine-dining experience includes the well-regarded Fredericksburg restaurant Bistro 309, says his affection for his new hometown will carry over into the daily business. "First and foremost, this is an American tavern, and we want to reflect what Ashland is all about," he says. "I feel strongly that Ashland is something special, and it's rare to assume operations of a business that is doing well and has been successful for so long." He'll keep live music and make subtle changes over time, respectful of the traditions that have made the place a destination as well as a local favorite.

Speaking of moving in from out of town: Saxbys Coffee, a national chain, opens next month in Monroe Park Towers at the corner of Belvidere and Franklin streets.

Jumpin J's Java, the bohemian coffee shop that changed a Church Hill neighborhood from barren to blossoming, closed last month despite owner Je Depew's efforts to stave off the inevitable. Read about her experiences in next week's issue of Style.

This is the time of year when many restaurant businesses go belly up. Accountants and attorneys give their best advice to those holding on by a shoestring: Stop the bleeding -- shut it down.

We'll have a wrap-up of the year's openings, closings, changes and trends next week in Style's Food & Drink section. As always, we welcome your comments, observations and suggestions about all things restaurant related. It's a big region out there — go and support the local food and drink scene with the assistance of our newest, complimentary publication, Taste: Style Weekly's guide to Richmond dining, available now at most Ukrop's stores, participating restaurants and at our Style Weekly office.



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