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OPINION: Legislators, we need you to be leaders

“We are the businesses that drive the economy. I call on you now to see past your campaign contributors, fundraising sponsors, and lobbyists and start representing the voters of this country. Do not fail us again.”

RVAHub Staff

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By Phillip Ray

My name is Phillip Ray. Together with my brother, Chris, I own and operate Center of the Universe Brewing Company and Origin Beer Lab located in Ashland, Virginia. My brother and I rely on the staff of our small business for our livelihoods and they rely on us for theirs. We made a deal with them: they trade us their most precious commodity, their time; and in return, we offer them a safe and reliable place to work, a benefits package that provides health care in case of illness, a savings plan for their futures, a fair livable wage and a comfortable work-life balance. This week we are forced to break that deal.

This is by no means the first time our small business has faced hardships, but this is an unprecedented situation – one which I do not believe we can survive without your help. We have lost two of the three markets where our goods are sold and our revenues have been cut by 70% because of this. I am writing today to ask for your help. I am asking for you to help not just our business, but the 30 million small businesses in this country who are suffering.

Now is the time to help the workers in this country who contribute the most to the economy and receive the least amount of remuneration for their efforts. Now is not the time to send multibillion-dollar bailout packages to multibillion-dollar corporations. Those companies received their bailouts in 2018 with the historic corporate tax cut you voted into law. The result of that bailout was not improved salaries, increased benefits packages, or even a safety net for workers or the companies themselves. Instead, the corporations you bailed out participated in record stock buybacks and paid massive dividends to their shareholders. They used their bailouts for the benefit of a few wealthy stakeholders. Now, when crisis hits, they want you to use taxpayer money to bail them out again.

This is the definition of privatizing profits and socializing losses. For far too long, this country has asked the most financially vulnerable among us to bear the brunt of the fiscal pain when disaster strikes and reap the fewest rewards when the economy is booming. This crisis has proven to be no exception.

Small businesses in this country are often inefficient and ours is no exception. This inefficiency is exactly what keeps the economy moving. We spend the majority of our budgets on human power and earn razor-thin margins. Our revenues do not sit in our checking accounts or investment accounts or in our own stock ownership. We do not have executive payrolls or massive lobbying budgets. We earn and spend our money locally, benefiting the greater economy not just our own.

We are the businesses that drive the economy. I call on you now to see past your campaign contributors, fundraising sponsors, and lobbyists and start representing the voters of this country. Do not fail us again.

Pass legislation that immediately puts money into the hands of small businesses and working Americans. Pass legislation that guarantees every American access to health care. Pass legislation guaranteeing all Americans with a full-time job can support their families. Pass legislation that protects every American during times of crisis. I call on you to pass these laws and to pass them today. This is the deal you made with the American people when you asked for our votes. Now is the time to honor that deal.

Faithfully,

Phillip Ray
Co-Founder, Center of the Universe Brewing Company & Origin Beer Lab

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Venture Richmond teams up with city for “Picnic in a Parklet” program to assist businesses during reopening phases

“We acknowledge the difficulty Richmond businesses face when trying to safely reopen and want to do what we can to make that easier on them,” said Max Hepp-Buchanan, Director of Riverfront and Downtown Placemaking for Venture Richmond. “Parklets have the potential to offer an attractive, comfortable space for customers to physically-distance adjacent to the business, which may be needed for a smoother reopening. We look forward to working with any business in the city that submits a request.”

RVAHub Staff

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Venture Richmond has announced a new initiative, “Picnic in a Parklet,” a program designed to assist Richmond restaurants and other businesses with Phase 2 and 3 of Forward Virginia. Through this new partnership with the City of Richmond, business owners can receive design and permitting assistance for their requests for more outdoor space, particularly parklets.

Parklets are outdoor patio spaces constructed in the on-street parking lane of the street in front of a business that can function as an area for customers to gather and/or take to-go orders and eat outside in a physically-distanced environment. Parklets are, by definition, public space; but, restaurants can offer lightly packaged to-go orders for people who simply want to dine in the parklet in front of the restaurant.

“Transforming our use of public space innovatively and sustainably requires partnerships just like this one,” said Richmond Mayor Levar Stoney. “By linking the business and design communities, this program will expand the city’s growing network of creatively designed public spaces.”

Business-owners who are interested in temporarily converting an on-street parking space adjacent to their storefront into a parklet will be connected with Venture Richmond to better assess their needs. If a parklet will be helpful and appropriate, Venture Richmond will work with the American Institute of Architects Richmond Chapter (AIA Richmond) to connect businesses with a certified architect for pro-bono parklet design services. Venture Richmond will assist the applicant through the steps needed to obtain a permit from the City of Richmond.

“We acknowledge the difficulty Richmond businesses face when trying to safely reopen and want to do what we can to make that easier on them,” said Max Hepp-Buchanan, Director of Riverfront and Downtown Placemaking for Venture Richmond. “Parklets have the potential to offer an attractive, comfortable space for customers to physically-distance adjacent to the business, which may be needed for a smoother reopening. We look forward to working with any business in the city that submits a request.”

Unless otherwise specified or revoked, parklet permits are valid for three years. All requests within Richmond City limits will be considered.

Requests for parklets can be submitted through the RVA Strong website. General information about parklets can be found here, and more information about the City of Richmond’s Parklet Program can be found here.

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Former staff from Julep’s, Pasture, Comfort launch Richmond’s first “ghost kitchen”

Their business, Dunharrow Concepts, launched its first restaurant concept on Thursday, June 25th with a limited menu. Garden Party is a strictly vegetarian and vegan concept featuring indulgent snacks, sandwiches, and salads. 

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Jon Martin, formerly of Julep’s and Pasture, and Liz Clifford, formerly of Comfort, have opened Richmond’s first ghost kitchen.

A ghost kitchen is a delivery-only restaurant that allows the parent business to operate multiple concepts from one commercial kitchen.

Their business, Dunharrow Concepts, launched its first restaurant concept on Thursday, June 25th with a limited menu. Garden Party is a strictly vegetarian and vegan concept featuring indulgent snacks, sandwiches, and salads.

With no brick and mortar, Clifford and Martin can keep the focus on the food.

“We’ve spent our entire professional careers feeding people,” Clifford said. “The ghost kitchen concept allows us to keep overhead low. We don’t have to worry about the expenses that come with running a traditional restaurant including designing, maintaining, and staffing a physical space.”

Dunharrow Concepts operates out of Hatch Kitchen RVA, a food and beverage incubator and commercial kitchen located at Clopton Siteworks in Manchester. They have partnered with UberEats with plans to add other delivery services in the coming weeks.

The husband-wife duo, who moved from DC two years ago, is passionate about ensuring those with food restrictions don’t have to miss out on experiencing a good meal.

“Cooking for vegans with a nut allergy makes you push boundaries,” says Clifford. “With all ordering online, items can be easily customized to accommodate most dietary restrictions and food preferences.”

Menu items range from a BBQ Tofu Bahn Mi, crispy green beans, a Tex Mex Salad to homemade fudgy brownies.

Next month, Clifford and Martin plan to launch two additional concepts, Fat Kid Sandwiches which will feature overstuffed subs and clubs, and Victory Garden which focuses on made-to-order salads.

For more information on Dunharrow Concepts and Garden Party, visit gardenpartyrva.com or follow @gardenpartyrva on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter.

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Carytown Panera closes permanently, joins Stony Point location’s announced closure last week

The Carytown Panera has shuttered permanently, according to Richmond BizSense. The announcement follows another last week indicating the Stony Point location will be shut down for good, too.

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The Carytown Panera has shuttered permanently, according to Richmond BizSense. The announcement follows another last week indicating the Stony Point location will be shut down for good, too.

From Richmond BizSense:

Another local outpost of Panera Bread has hit the chopping block, this time in Carytown.

The restaurant chain’s location at 10 N. Nansemond St. in the Carytown Place shopping center is permanently closed. The closure follows that of the Panera outpost in Stony Point Fashion Park.

It’s unclear when or why the Carytown Panera permanently closed. The restaurant didn’t alert Maryland Financial Investors, which manages the center, about the closing, property manager Scott Cherry said.

“We found out about it the same way the community did,” Cherry said.

Continue reading here.

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