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Oriental Food Store is closing up

Opened in 1983 the shop has seen a bunch of changes in our little neighborhood.

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It’s with more than a little shame that I have to admit that after living here for 13 years I never went into the Oriental Food Shop. Time is running out on slackers like myself and those that have been regulars for years.

Richmond Magazine has this nice article on the closing and history of the shop.

In a shop at the edge of a strip mall, its exterior a faded tapestry of cherry blossoms, Japanese script and peeling white paint, Belle Ann Apodaca takes stock of the dwindling panko crumbs, boxed tofu, sesame oil, bric-a-brac and photos of customers alive and long passed, the culmination — and end — of nearly 33 years in business as one of Richmond’s first Asian food shops.

When the Oriental Food Store & Gift Shop opened at 4803 Forest Hill Ave. on Oct. 13, 1983, it wasn’t long before customers affectionately nicknamed the cheerful Apodaca “Li’l Miss Chin.”

I also hope that whatever happens to that location at least part of the mural on the side stays. The photos I’ve included were taken way back in 2011 and have since been touched up and refreshed a bit.

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Richard Hayes is the co-founder of RVAHub. When he isn't rounding up neighborhood news, he's likely watching soccer or chasing down the latest and greatest board game.

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Community

Abuelita’s Giving Away Food After Winning CBS6 College Basketball Contest

Baylor’s win in that big basketball tournament means you win as well.

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Great news for my favorite Mexican restaurant in the area. Details from CBS6.

Baylor’s win meant Abuelita’s won the CBS 6 We’re Open Tournament, sponsored by Maebird Marketing. CBS 6 randomly paired 16 Richmond-area restaurants with the teams playing in the Sweet 16. As each team won on the basketball court, the restaurant advanced.

Prior to the Final Four, Abuelita’s owner Karina Benavides said if Baylor won, she’d use the $1,500 grand prize to thank loyal customers who’ve helped the restaurant stay open during the pandemic.

“It’s just been fun. I love interacting with people on social media. I think this is a really fun activity for Richmond, especially for the restaurants,” she said in an interview with CBS 6 earlier this month. “I’m very excited to give something back to our customers. And they’re helping us to do that.”

Follow Abuelita’s on Instagram to see the rest of the deals this week. Thursday is looking pretty good as they’re upgrading chicos to grandes.

If you haven’t been to Abuelita’s check out this review on Richmond.com and then go. No matter what you order you can’t go wrong, I speak from experience.

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Business

Mediterranean restaurant taking over former Urban Farmhouse spot in Scott’s Addition

The vacant space at 3031 Norfolk Street is being renovated for a planned July open date.

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From Richmond BizSense:

One of the more prominent restaurant spaces in Scott’s Addition left vacant due to the pandemic has been snapped up by a pair of local industry veterans.

John Reynolds and Steve DeRaffele are preparing to open Pinky’s, a full-service Mediterranean restaurant in the former Urban Farmhouse space at 3031 Norfolk St.

Pinky’s menu will take influences from the entire Mediterranean region, while the restaurant’s name is a nod to DeRaffele’s late mother whose nickname was Pinky.

“I learned how to cook from her and want to make the kind of stuff I learned to make at home,” DeRaffele said. “Now I can bring people into our space and cook for them like I would if they were at my house.”

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Ms. Bee’s Juice Bar & Cafe Opening Monday, April 5th at the Valentine Museum

Ms. Bee’s Juice Bar & Cafe was the winner of The Main Course: A Valentine Museum Restaurant Competition held in partnership with the Metropolitan Business League, the Valentine Museum, Richmond Black Restaurant Experience, and Hatch Kitchen RVA.

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The Metropolitan Business League in partnership with the Valentine Museum, the Richmond Black Restaurant Experience and Hatch Kitchen RVA is excited to announce the Grand Opening of the 2nd location of Ms. Bee’s Juice Bar & Cafe, winner of The Main Course: A Valentine Museum Restaurant Competition, Monday, April 5th from 8am to 4pm at the Valentine Museum.

As the grand prize winner, Brandi was selected to be the next food vendor and restaurant tenant in the Valentine Museum and her first 2 years in the space will be rent free! “The Valentine is excited to collaborate with our friends at the Metropolitan Business League to host this region-wide competition. Working with fantastic partners like the MBL to offer opportunities and experiences like this to the Richmond community is an integral part of our mission. We are committed to supporting new businesses in Richmond and creating new opportunities downtown,”  says Valentine Museum Director, Bill Martin.

“I am incredibly excited about the opportunity to serve our downtown community with healthy meal options at the Valentine Museum. I look forward to spoiling my daily and catering customers with cold pressed juice, breakfast and lunch,” says Brandi Brown, owner of Ms. Bee’s Juice Bar & Cafe.  A private ribbon cutting ceremony will be held and the general public will be welcomed Monday, April 5th from 8am to 4pm to purchase their cold pressed juice, breakfast and lunch from this downtown location.

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