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Richmond to delay moving into Phase One of state reopening plan until May 28 at the earliest

Mayor Stoney on Thursday announced that the city requested and has been granted a local delay of the state’s reopening plan. The city will move into Phase One no earlier than May 28th. The move comes as many restaurateurs were making preparations to open their patios at 50% capacity on Friday as most of the Commonwealth moves into Phase One.

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Mayor Stoney on Thursday announced that the city requested and has been granted a local delay of the state’s reopening plan. The city will move into Phase One no earlier than May 28th. The move comes as many restaurateurs were making preparations to open their patios at 50% capacity on Friday as most of the Commonwealth moves into Phase One.

“I want to thank Governor Northam for working with us,” said Mayor Stoney. “This step will make Richmond safer as we face this challenge together.”

The city has experienced an increase in both positive cases and percent positivity in the past two weeks. Percent positivity speaks to the intersection of the spread of the virus and the recently enhanced testing capacity; the metric represents the percentage of people tested who have been positively diagnosed. The images below illustrate those trends.

The state provided the Stoney Administration with the information on local percent positivity on Thursday morning, which then allowed the city to formally request a delay.

The mayor cited that data provided by the state as the key factor in applying for the delay.

“Right now, the data is showing an increase in percent positivity over the past two weeks. Therefore, I cannot justify risking the health and safety of the residents of the City of Richmond by moving forward with Phase One.”

The governor plans to move the majority of the state into Phase 1 of the reopening plan on Friday, May 15. A coalition of Northern Virginia localities have applied for and been granted a delay.

In his letter to Governor Northam and during Thursday’s announcement, Mayor Stoney emphasized the outsized effect the pandemic is having on Richmond’s most vulnerable, including communities of color and essential workers.

“For me, it’s not just the total number of cases in the region or the city that I believe we must be vigilant in monitoring – it’s the impact this disease is having on our most vulnerable,” said Mayor Stoney. “It’s the essential personnel, the grocery workers, the uber drivers, the restaurant workers and my own employees here at city hall.”

In the press conference, Mayor Stoney cited the disparate impact the disease has on Black Richmonders as a reason he requested the delay, stating, “In Richmond, 16 out of the 18 resident deaths have been Black people. This is a factor we can’t ignore.”

On Wednesday, May 13, the Virginia Legislative Black Caucus published a letter in opposition to reopening on Friday due to the disproportionate toll it may take on the Black community. On Thursday, May 14, the Richmond branch of the NAACP issued a press release supporting Mayor Stoney’s decision to request a delay.

The mayor indicated he will continue to prioritize areas that are at the highest-risk of community spread and fatality, making a request that the state continue to support the city in its targeted, intentional testing events.

He also made an appeal to the business community, thanking them for saving lives with their patience and compliance.

“Please be patient with me and my administration as we work to ensure community safety. I’m so thankful to you for making tough, responsible decisions in the face of a global crisis.”

The city will provide specific guidance in the coming days to businesses affected by this delay in reopening, making sure all parties are informed of expectations.

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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.”

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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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