Side Dish 

Broad Street Gets More Eats

This year art walkers will have more places to grab a bite after the First Fridays festivities. In addition to Comfort, Twenty-Seven and Chez Foushee (which begins serving dinner once a month this fall), downtown is weeks away from getting two new food-and-drink businesses, both at highly visible corners of Broad Street.

Popkin Tavern, a neighborhood bar and grill housed in what was previously a furniture store, should open by early October.

"I really want to create the setting of a former furniture store," Steve Soble says of the project he and his father, Jerry Soble, own at 121 W. Broad St., where for decades the family business showed off a huge inventory of sofas and chairs in equally huge storefront windows. Seating groups clustered throughout the space will be anchored by a long bar and accented by original tin ceiling tiles, period details and spacious new kitchen and service areas.

Apartments carved from showrooms on three levels upstairs are fully occupied by downtown dwellers drawn to the sensitive, light-filled conversion of the circa-1909 structure and its proximity to an emerging art and creative scene. Soon they'll be able to step downstairs for billiards, beverages and casual dining on the first floor and mezzanine.

Steve Soble, who operates several similar taverns in Chicago, says he's pleased with the progress of the Richmond project, now getting its final touches after 18 months of renovation.

At the other end of the block, Tarrant's Drug at 1 W. Broad St. is also a work in progress.

The co-owner is Ted Santarella, whom longtime Richmonders might remember from his days at The Aviary and The Butlery, and more recently at Franco's.

Santarella is installing booth and counter seating for 47 at the restaurant, which will serve sandwiches, soups, salads and light fare, with a full bar, retail wine sales and carryout.

The drugstore's stained-glass windows set off dark wood casework, wooden booths and a long bar of marble said to be scavenged from The Jefferson Hotel's men's room.

Freeman Fisher "Gozzie" Gosden, a radio comedian best known for his work on the "Amos 'n' Andy" series, worked at Tarrant's Drug while attending school here in the 1940s.

Now the circa-1873 building gets a new purpose, and Santarella's flair with contemporary foods brings another option to a neighborhood that's quickly becoming known for destination drinking and dining.

Spanish Eyes

Writer Lamar Herrin's new memoir, "Romancing Spain," inspires a reading, wine-tasting and tapas spread at Shockoe Slip cooking school Mise En Place next week.

The novel, part travelogue through Spanish towns and part love letter to the American-born Herrin's Spanish wife, Amparo, lavishes its pages with descriptions of food, architecture, customs and traditions, and is garnering critical praise here and abroad.

The couple will read from the book and discuss Spanish culture at the informal gathering Sept. 12 at 6 p.m. Guests pay for the tasting and receive signed copies of the hardcover book. Register at www.miseenplaceshockoe.com or by calling 249-1332. S

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