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Mean Bird Closing Up Shop

Some of the best fried chicken in Richmond will only be available for about two more weeks.

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Mean Bird (2227 W Main St) hit the scene as a food truck and eventually opened up a shop on Main Street. They’re known for awesome chicken and surprisingly good vegan option. The life of a restauranteur is tough one and owners Mike and Sarah Moore are throwing in the towel.

The posted the reasoning behind this well-thought-out decision on Facebook.

Almost four years ago, after a walk on the Chesapeake bay, we started Mean Bird. It was just Sarah and I and an army of friends and family willing to watch our fussy son for long days and restaurant industry hours. We made a ton of mistakes, rewrote our entire menu, did a ton of damage to the food truck, and eventually we started to succeed.

We grew so fast that we were able to open our takeout restaurant a little over a year later. Once again we made a ton of mistakes, had another baby, struggled with staffing, consistency, the new delivery services, and trying to grow our catering business. Growth came slower this time, shop sales were inconsistent but, eventually our catering business grew enough to support us, and eventually became almost more than we could manage.

Our lease at the shop on Main Street is up in October and when we discussed whether or or not it was time to try and grow again; we pretty quickly decided our hearts just weren’t in it. There are tons of chefs and restaurateurs that are
able to find a healthy work/life balance, but I can say (with no shame) that I am not one of those folks. I am also not willing to miss anymore of my two kids lives while I figure it out.

I have hypertension, a bum knee, and an ankle that’s so bad after the long weekends that I have to crawl to the bathroom at night. Despite all that I might have kept doing it, because it is fun. We have met some great people and gotten to travel all over the state to be a part of people’s most important days. At a certain point, all these weddings, parties, and festivals become a reminder of the times I’m missing with my own family and friends. I have two great kids who are delightful, fascinating people, and when they are older and don’t need me as much, I can work on opening a hundred other restaurants. But for now I have some catching up to do.

The shop will be open for the next two weeks (check our social media for updated hours and some special free stuff for our regulars) and our very last day open to the public will be the Richmond Vegetarian festival on our food truck. We’ll be catering booked weddings through November.

We can’t thank everyone enough for supporting Sarah and I as we chased our dreams. We have asked more of of our friends and family than we ever should have, but they still invite us to Christmas every year. This is a cruel business, but we have been incredibly lucky that we have the best friends, family and met the best, most hardworking, and honest colleagues. Particularly in the food truck business there are a ton of folks who you will never read about in the paper or Style Magazine who are working 100 hours a week, in the crazy heat and cold to feed folks in Richmond.

Thanks again everyone

Mike and Sarah Moore

Fried chicken can’t be on my menu very often but I’m going to miss Mean Bird.

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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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Ardent Craft Ales launches food bank for restaurant workers affected by closures, reduced hours

“The restaurant industry has been decimated by the COVID-19 virus and the country’s need to close or restrict public gathering spaces. We want to do our part to help the thousands of restaurant workers in Richmond and the surrounding area who have been laid-off, furloughed or are suffering from reduced hours,” said Tom Sullivan, Ardent’s co-founder.

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Ardent Craft Ales is teaming up with SyscoThe Holli Fund, and Digital Minerva to launch Ardent Helps, a food bank resource inspired by Harrisonburg-based Pale Fire Brewery to support restaurant workers during the COVID-19 crisis.

The food bank will start taking orders on Monday, March 30. All orders must be placed online at www.ardenthelpsrva.com. Orders will be packed and made available for pick up the next business day between 2-8 p.m. at Ardent Craft Ales’ taproom at 3200 West Leigh Street in Scott’s Addition. Orders may be placed seven days a week, with pick-up times scheduled during our operating hours of 2-8pm on Tuesday-Sunday.

“The restaurant industry has been decimated by the COVID-19 virus and the country’s need to close or restrict public gathering spaces. We want to do our part to help the thousands of restaurant workers in Richmond and the surrounding area who have been laid-off, furloughed or are suffering from reduced hours,” said Tom Sullivan, Ardent’s co-founder. “Pale Fire’s popup food bank concept connected with our brewery and community and we’re honored to be able to help the Richmond service industry.”

The Ardent Helps food bank will only be available to restaurant industry workers. However, it is not limited to Richmond residents, and all restaurant workers are welcome to place orders and pick up goods. Participants are asked to avoid stockpiling and take only what they immediately need. The program will last as long as it can safely continue to operate and donated items are available. Responsible sanitation and social distancing measures will be followed at all times.

A variety of perishable and non-perishable items donated by Sysco will be available. Ardent is also accepting both shelf-stable food donations to support this program and monetary donations to directly benefit affected restaurant workers via grants from The Holli Fund.

There is no cost to participate in Ardent Helps. Participants are asked to show their most recent pay stub to confirm eligibility upon pick up. Ardent’s taproom will remain open to the general public for to-go beer and merchandise purchases.

Learn more about the program at www.ardenthelpsrva.com.

Ardent Helps. Photo courtesy Ardent Craft Ales

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Restaurant employee fundraisers you can donate to right now

It’s tough out there right now for those in the service industry. With dining rooms closed and restaurants trying to stay afloat by getting creative with takeout, delivery, and other endeavors, employees without much of a safety net are hurting. Below are all of the employee fundraisers we’ve seen floating around that you can donate to right now and make a difference.

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It’s tough out there right now for those in the service industry. With dining rooms closed and restaurants trying to stay afloat by getting creative with takeout, delivery, and other endeavors, employees without much of a safety net are hurting. Below are all of the employee fundraisers we’ve seen floating around that you can donate to right now and make a difference.

Another way you can make a difference is to donate to The Holli Fund. I (Trevor) was one of a handful of folks asked to host a virtual happy hour last week (embedded at the bottom of the post). This is an application- and need-based fund that gives grants to folks in both the front and back of house at restaurants and breweries across the area. The fund has done transformational things like paid folks’ mortgages, car payments, and fulfilled other important needs. You can learn more here and donate by texting “DONATE” and your amount (i.e. DONATE $5) to 805-518-8333.

Also check out our ongoing list of restaurants offering delivery and takeout, the coronavirus support list, and all of our COVID-19 coverage here. While we’re at it, we could use your support right now, too. RVAHub is a labor of love for both Richard Hayes and I, and we’re doing our best to keep the public up to date on important news and updates. With our ad network suspended, we’re running the site at a loss currently. It would mean the world to us if you were able to spare a couple o’ bucks and chip in to our cause. We’d love you for it.




Restaurant/employee fundraisers

 

More from Chad Williams of “30 is the New 20“:

Information on donating to The Holli Fund

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A spirited solution: GRTC sources sanitizer from Reservoir Distillery

GRTC contacted Reservoir Distillery last week to place a recurring bulk order for their newly produced sanitizer. Just as sanitizer dispensers at GRTC’s headquarters emptied, reinforcements arrived today from Reservoir Distillery, normally a bourbon whiskey producer in Scott’s Addition.

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Normally barrels and buses are buddies as a safe solution for patrons traveling after imbibing. Today there’s a new spirited solution. As hand sanitizer supplies quickly back-ordered during the COVID-19 crisis, GRTC needed to find a supplier quickly to refill dwindling inventory for essential employees. A Richmond Times-Dispatch news story about local businesses shifting production from spirits to sanitizer sparked a solution.

GRTC contacted Reservoir Distillery last week to place a recurring bulk order for their newly produced sanitizer. Just as sanitizer dispensers at GRTC’s headquarters emptied, reinforcements arrived today from Reservoir Distillery, normally a bourbon whiskey producer in Scott’s Addition.

“Creative solutions like this are exciting, said GRTC Chief Executive Officer Julie Timm. “Our essential employees need sanitizer at headquarters and in the field, and a local business benefits from our need. This is a win-win solution for both of us and I am proud of our Procurement Department’s ingenuity.”

“We are happy to be able to support GRTC during this unprecedented time,” says Dave Cuttino, co-founder of Reservoir Distillery. “Reservoir will continue to make hand sanitizer as long as resources are available and the need is there within our community.”

More than 100 gallons of liquid sanitizer were picked up Monday from Reservoir Distillery, helping GRTC staff reporting to headquarters maintain proper personal hygiene practices. Operators and other frontline staff can refill personal bottles to use in the field.

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