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Business owners air frustrations as completion schedule announced at GRTC Pulse town hall

More than 50 people showed up, many of whom aired frustrations over construction and loss of parking, for a public meeting held by Richmond City Councilwoman Kim Gray to give an update about construction and completion of the GRTC Pulse bus rapid transit project.

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A crowd of move than 50 people showed up to a Town Hall meeting held Wednesday afternoon at The Broadberry held by Richmond City Councilwoman Kim Gray, representative of the 2nd District, to give an update on construction of the GRTC Pulse bus rapid transit project.

Many in attendance were business or restaurant owners and a number vented frustrations about the project, saying loss of parking and construction activities resulted in year-over-year losses. Gray had originally proposed compensating businesses for those losses, using a $3 million incentive bonus contractor Lane Construction would have received had the project wrapped before the end of 2017. Those funds, however, came from a federal level and can’t be used for such purposes, she said at the meeting, resulting in frustrated remarks from attendees, many of whom also felt misled about the project’s end date and the fact that the completion of work in 2017 was merely an incentive.

Another pot of money, $700,000 earmarked by the city for GRTC to operate the bus rapid transit line this year, was also cited as a potential revenue source to compensate business owners for losses. GRTC spokeswoman Carrie Rose Pace, also in attendance, said a portion of that money had already been spent on hiring and training drivers on the specialized way the busses must “dock” to the stations in the median of W. Broad Street. The exact figure was not specified.

Gray proposed exploring other options to compensate businesses, including dipping into state or local funds, providing tax abatements, or arranging grants. No further details were available at press time, but she promised constituents to “leave no stone unturned” when it came to compensation options.

“You are not going to be able to reimburse the losses,” said Scott Garnett, owner of Lift Coffee Shop & Café in the city’s Arts District, adding that “it’s not a money grab.”

Trevor Dickerson/RVAHub

A representative of sister restaurants Max’s On Broad and Tarrant’s Café, both in the Arts District and not far from Lift, spoke without providing his name for the record, stating the restaurants’ sales dipped more than 25% year-over-year in 2017 versus 2016–a loss of approximately $200,000. However, he also cited the city’s closure of Brook Road in front of Max’s and the construction of the Maggie Walker statue last year as contributing factors as well. He didn’t mince words, saying the city “has screwed us” and compared the meeting to an episode of former NBC sitcom Parks & Rec.

The new GRTC busses will use smart technology to communicate with newly-installed traffic signals to prioritize their passage as they cross 53 intersections along their 7.6 mile route from Willow Lawn to Rocketts Landing. The service will run from 5:30 AM until 1:00 AM on weekdays; service begins at 6:00 AM on weekends.

While no official launch date has been announced, Pace says the new bus lines should enter a testing phase by the first week of April, with passenger service beginning by the end of June. Lane Construction’s contract on the project expires June 30th, 2018.

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Trevor Dickerson is the co-founder and editor of RVAhub.com, lover of all things Richmond, and a master of karate and friendship for everyone.

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Fat Kid Sandwiches launches as new overstuffed sub concept from “ghost kitchen” operation

Fat Kid Sandwiches boasts exactly what you think it does. Overstuffed, indulgent subs, grilled cheeses, and sky-high clubs flank the menu. You won’t go hungry as most sandwiches are two hearty servings.

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Richmond’s first ghost kitchen has launched a new concept that you’ll want to have “get in your belly!” Fat Kid Sandwiches launched in late July; the newest concept from Jon Martin and Liz Clifford of Dunharrow Concepts, Richmond’s first ghost kitchen.

Fat Kid Sandwiches boasts exactly what you think it does. Overstuffed, indulgent subs, grilled cheeses, and sky-high clubs flank the menu. You won’t go hungry as most sandwiches are two hearty servings.

After launching Garden Party last month, Fat Kid Sandwiches is Dunharrow’s second delivery-only restaurant – which is what a “ghost kitchen” essentially is. With the success of the vegan and vegetarian concept, they hope Richmond receives their sandwich concept with the same excitement.

“We’ve had a really great response so far,” said Clifford.

The pair have already hosted a preview event and a pop-up at The Veil Brewing Co. as part of the concept’s launch.

The Bangin’ Grilled Cheese boasts American, Provolone, and Cheddar on a homemade sandwich loaf. His grandmother’s recipe, Martin makes this bread himself, and it truly makes the sandwich. Add tomato, avocado, or bacon if you’d like and you’ve got yourself a grilled cheese your childhood-self would be pleased with.

If you like to be in control, you can also “choose your own adventure” and build a sub exactly to your liking. Have no fear, vegans, and vegetarians – they’ve got you covered as well.

Fat Kid Sandwiches can be ordered online for delivery Wednesday through Saturday from 5 – 9 p.m. You can find them on UberEats, GrubHub, and most recently on Richmond-based food delivery service, ChopChop.

For more information on Dunharrow Concepts and Fat Kid Sandwiches, visit fatkidsandwiches.com.

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New orchid store set to bloom in West End this September

“Our West End clients have been asking us to open a store near them for years and plants are experiencing a surge in popularity right now because so many people are working from home,” the company said in a news release.

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A local orchid grower is putting down roots in the West End due to customer demand.

Chadwick & Son Orchids Inc has announced it is opening a new orchid store in the West End in the Gaskins Place Shopping Center. The new space should be ready by September 1st.

The company, based in Powhatan, says the new location fills the need for Chadwick’s many West End clients and helps to meet the increased demand for plants in general. Chadwick’s existing store in the Museum District was recently renovated and will remain.

“Our West End clients have been asking us to open a store near them for years and plants are experiencing a surge in popularity right now because so many people are working from home,” the company said in a news release.

Chadwick & Son has 11 greenhouses in Powhatan and specializes in a service called ‘orchid boarding’ in which clients pay to have their plants taken care of. There are currently over 13,000 plants in production.

“Orchids, in various forms, have been in vogue for over a century – first as corsages, then as collector’s items, now as everyday houseplants,” a company representative concluded.

Chadwick & Son Orchids was founded in 1989 by Art Chadwick and his son, Arthur.

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Home Team Grill’s Glen Allen outpost rebranded as Twin Hickory Tavern

After 14 years in business in Glen Allen, local restaurant Home Team Grill has traded the sports moniker for one that shares the name of its community.

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After 14 years in business in Glen Allen, local restaurant Home Team Grill has traded the sports moniker for one that shares the name of its community. After some interior renovations and a revamp of the menu, owner Garland Taylor reopened the neighborhood restaurant as Twin Hickory Tavern.

The new restaurant has been totally renovated and features an expanded bar lineup with 20 beers on tap and a more upscale menu featuring appetizers like seared tuna, buffalo cauliflower, and chicken satay; sliders, a selection of tacos, and soups and salads; dinner entrees include burgers, premium sandwiches, and a shrimp bowl. See the full menu here.

Twin Hickory Tavern is located at 11351 Nuckols Road in the Twin Hickory Town Center and is open Monday – Friday from 11:30 AM until 2:30 PM and 5:00 – 10:00 PM; Saturday and Sunday 5:00 – 10:00 PM.

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