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New restaurant sweetens up the Bottom

Michael Thompson September 24, 2013 0

Sweet Teas opened in August at 1800 E. Main St. (Photos by Michael Thompson)

Sweet Teas manager Shane Thomas greets diners. (Photos by Michael Thompson)

A local bar owner has a sweet new venture in Shockoe Bottom.

Louis Asare last month opened Sweet Teas at 1800 E. Main St.

Sweet Teas serves Southern soul food, but its specialty, as its name suggests, is a variety of home-brewed teas.

Chef Gary Carter, left, and manager Shane Thomas.

Chef Gary Carter, left, and Thomas.

“People come for the teas,” said Shane Thomas, who manages the new restaurant. “I infuse them with fruit and secret spices that most people don’t take the time to use.”

Asare, 24, also owns Encore Ultra Lounge, which opened in November on South 12th Street.

Thomas said it took between $30,000 and $40,000 to launch Sweet Teas. Renovations began four months ago, and plans had been in the works for a year.

The space has housed a number of restaurants, including 1800 Bar & Grill and Babe Girl Bar & Grill.

Thomas was an account manager in advertising and sales at Radio One for 10 years before getting into the restaurant and bar business. Asare had been an advertising client.

“I was helping him do some promotions,” Thomas said. “He is a mastermind when it comes to social marketing, and I am a mastermind when it comes to business planning.”

After interviewing more than 20 chefs, Asare and Thomas lured Gary Carter, 57, out of retirement to run the kitchen. Carter had worked for Mama Mary’s Sugar and Spice for about nine years before retiring.

Entrees cost about $12, and Sweet Teas has 12 employees.

“People come for the teas,” said Sweet Teas manager Shane Thomas.

Sweet Teas opened in August at 1800 E. Main St.

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