The week in food
Welcome to our all-new Food News Roundup to start of the New Year! We hope you enjoy this more conversational roundup of the area’s food news, restaurant happenings, and other culinary headlines. Let’s get right to it, shall we?
Perhaps the week’s most shared news is the word that Comfort, the pioneering restaurant owned by Jason Alley and Michele Jones in the Arts District is closing at the end of the month after 17 years in business. Comfort, which served up hearty and delicious comfort food as the name might suggest, was one of those special establishments that helped put Richmond on the map when it came to dining. In recent years, the restaurant shifted to a model where all profits benefitted local food bank FeedMore. You still have the rest of the month to pop in and bid Comfort adieu and wish Jason and Michele luck on their next adventure in the culinary consulting world.
The 2010s were no doubt the decade that made Richmond a food city and brought us international acclaim, thanks to a bevy of innovative restaurants and chefs. Karri Peifer at the RTD has a nice recap that hits all the major points in our journey to becoming a foodie destination here; Style Weekly has a great look back at 2019 in food over here.
I guess we could call this section the rumor roundup, but word on the streets is Aloi in Scott’s Addition will serve its last plate at the end of the month as well. We can’t yet independently verify this claim, but you can read the chatter on Reddit here.
How cool is this? Scoop ice cream shop on Strawberry Street in the Fan has been sold to someone pretty familiar with the venue. Former Video Fan video rental shop owner Paula Demmert has scooped up the shop from founder Morgan Botwinick for an undisclosed sum. She said the experience felt like coming home.
Word to the wise, if you’re going to open up a restaurant, first off – get a license from the Health Department. Second, store your food properly and clean your equipment! Here’s a look at what can happen when these two basic rules aren’t followed. But wait, there’s more! The owner is supposedly looking to expand his holdings with a new (hopefully properly-licensed?) restaurant in the new Scott’s View towers in Scott’s Addition.
- Brewer’s Waffles (Richmond Magazine)
- Nama (Style Weekly) – Editor’s note: Oof, this is cringe-worthy, but not for the restaurant featured.
- Poor Boys (Richmond Times-Dispatch and Style Weekly)
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Food News: More January closures, not-so-sweet times at Sugar Shack, and a new Italian joint
The week in food
As we enter the third week of the year, the Richmond restaurant scene is hopping – and ever transient. First up, news that Acacia mid-town is closing its doors at the end of the month. The RTD’s Karri Peifer says the restaurant will finish up the month and then a “new venture” will be announced – at a separate location. Meanwhile, the current building has been sold. Much more to come on this front for sure.
Elsewhere on the restaurant closing front, the rumor that Aloi in Scott’s Addition may be closing its digs became reality with the restaurant announcing the impending closure, also at the end of January, on its social channels.
Finally, as you know by now, Comfort is closing at the end of the month. If you enjoyed, as I did, their summer sandwich popup known as The Paulie, you’ll be happy to know it’s making one more return before the restaurant closes down.
In what may already be the most Richmond story of 2020, there’s plenty of drama at Sugar Shack Donuts this week. Earlier this week, a “now leasing” sign appeared perched atop the donut chain’s flagship location on Lombardy Street – with sources saying only that the shop’s lease was up in July. Then came a viral posting from an alleged former employee who claimed 40 employees were laid off and the owner, Ian Kelley, was facing allegations of sexual assault. We haven’t been able to independently verify the claims made in the viral Facebook post, which you can read for yourself here, but things look less than rosy for Sugar Shack right now.
On the openings front, The Angry Mussels, which takes over the former Kitchen on Cary space at 1331 E. Cary Street in Shockoe Slip, is now open and serving up authentic Italian cuisine, including a few menu samples such as linguini with clam sauce, Italian sausage and broccoli, steak saltimbocca, and other traditional dishes. Get more details here.
Weekly Food News: Bateau set to open on the Canal Walk, Swan Dive closes up shop, and Crab Cake Week
This week, a look into what led to the closure of Swan Dive in The Fan, news on Richmond’s first Crab Cake Week and related activities, and a look at Bateau, which opens on the Canal Walk downtown this Saturday.
All the news that’s fit to eat
Bateau on the Canal Walk set to open this weekend – A new restaurant opens its doors on Richmond’s Canal Walk downtown this Saturday. Bateau, from husband and wife team Harry Watkins and Arvat McClaine will offer a unique coffee and wine experience that pairs with a food menu featuring locally-sourced ingredients. The restaurant will also tell the story of the Canal’s history with bateaus (French for boat). It sounds like it will be a unique and inviting place (and the pictures show a gorgeous interior). Bateau is located at 301 Virginia Street. Here’s a look inside from Richmond Magazine’s Eileen Mellon.
Swan Dive, closed for several weeks, officially announces closure, sale – If you’ve been wondering about the shuttered Swan Dive space on N. Davis Avenue, your suspicions have been confirmed. The restaurant, owned by Kevin Roberts (formerly of The Black Sheep), opened about a year ago. The restaurant has been sold to a yet-to-be-named new owner. In a Facebook post, Roberts and his wife Rachelle said the restaurant didn’t get the TLC it deserved as they focused on family and their other restaurant, Perly’s Restaurant & Delicatessen downtown. More from the RTD’s Karri Peifer here.
Crab Cake Week is coming to Richmond, and The Savory Grain is kicking it off with a special event – Richmond will hold host to the very first Crab Cake Week coming up June 1st through the 9th. The idea is to promote sustainably-sourced seafood and highlight the role Chesapeake Bay blue crabs play in Virginia’s culture and economy. Participating restaurants will donate 10% of sales to Alliance for the Chesapeake Bay. The Savory Grain is also hosting an all-you-can-eat crab pickin’ June 3rd to coincide with the week. Learn more about all the goings on right here.
This week’s restaurant reviews
No new local reviews to share!
Weekly Food News: Food festival season, a new Afghan concept, Scott’s Addition’s first sports bar, and more
This week, a look at several new concepts including Scott’s Addition’s first sports bar, an Afghan concept for Carytown, a guide to food festival season in RVA, and much more.
All the news that’s fit to eat
New Afghan concept coming to Carytown – The darkened doors of Burger Bach’s old Carytown location will soon light up again with a new concept set to open in just weeks. Hamid Noori is opening Mantu, an Afghan concept, at the space at 10 South Thompson Street. The name roughly translates to “me and you” in English, and is also the name of one of the forthcoming restaurant’s featured items – traditional Afghan dumplings. Read on.
Scott’s Addition trades nightclub for sports bar – Speaking of new life for old spaces, Scott’s Addition will get its first sports bar with the opening of Wood & Iron Gameday Restaurant in the former Club Infuzion space on Roseneath Road in the back of the neighborhood. It’s the latest venture for the folks behind Asado and Flyin’ Pig Backyard Grill. Here’s what we know so far.
Your guide to food festival season in RVA – If it’s late spring it can only mean one thing in Richmond. Okay, it means many awesome things. But the most awesome of all things is probably that it’s food festival season! It all starts with the Lebanese Food Festival this weekend in the West End. Richmond Magazine’s guide takes us through the highlights of the spring and summer, all the way through the Carytown Watermelon Festival in August. Get your fest on here.
Wake Cafe is now open in Downtown Richmond – If you work or live downtown, there’s a new breakfast and lunch spot to enjoy. Wake Cafe is now open in the former Federal Coffee & Tea space at 616 East Franklin Street. Karri Peifer with the RTD has the lowdown on what you can expect. More here.
Fatty Smokes leaves diners fat and happy – If there are two things it’s safe to say Richmond has plenty of these days, it’s barbecue joints and pizza restaurants. The latest of the former type is now open downtown, and it’s a standout. Style Weekly’s Laura Ingles takes us inside EAT Restaurant Partners’ newest venture, Fatty Smokes on East Broad Street downtown in this week’s issue. Read on to see why it left her, in her words, “fat and happy.” More here.
This week’s restaurant reviews
- Bar Solita (Richmond Times-Dispatch)
- The Big Kitchen (Richmond Times-Dispatch)
- The Butterbean (Richmond Magazine)
- The Roosevelt (Richmond Times-Dispatch)