Tom Haas will open 525 at the Berry Burk, an upscale restaurant inside the former landmark retailer on East Grace Street.
Construction is underway, and the restaurant is expected to open in April. Haas’s concept is set to be the first business of any kind to occupy the first floor commercial space at the Berry Burk.
The building was home to the Berry Burk Co. dating back to the 1920s. The men and women’s clothing retailer closed in 1989, but within the past five years the four-story structure was renovated into apartments.
“It was the hot spot of Richmond where everyone went to shop, and we want to preserve that,” said Haas, 30. “Our vision is a 1940s suave environment. Pre-Mad Men.”
Keeping with that theme, Haas said the interior will maintain the building’s architecture. He’ll have pinstriped booths as a nod to the building’s former life.
525 is the first restaurant to go into the building, although the space has drawn interest in the past. In 2008, Mo Roman, owner of the Bank restaurant, leased space inside Berry Burk for his restaurant Pie, but he ended up moving it to North Lombardy Street instead. Since then, the space has been vacant.
Haas, a graduate of William & Mary, has been serving up drinks at Lemaire in the Jefferson Hotel for the past year, but he’s no stranger to the restaurant scene.
For the past 10 years, Haas said, he’s worked as a resultant consultant as a side gig, helping to open restaurants in Washington, Tennessee, Charlotte and other places.
“I got to see different types of restaurants,” he said. “It was experience.”
Just before coming to Lemaire, Haas worked for Sanctuary, a Charleston resort, for about a year.
Haas went on the hunt for his own space last year when he moved to Richmond.
“I’ve had my eye on Richmond since college,” Haas said. “That was the goal: to open a restaurant.”
“They want to bring Grace Street back to its former glory,” he said.
Haas also declined to disclose how much money is being put into getting the restaurant open.
525 would join Pasture, another restaurant that opened recently and is taking the gamble in the same mostly vacant corridor of Grace.
Haas has brought on former roommate Taylor Hasty to serve as head chef. Hasty was most recently the executive sous chef for a convention center in South Carolina.
Haas described the style of food as American entrees and small plates. The lunch and dinner menu with feature the likes of duck spring rolls, rockfish, scallops and other seafood along with salads, sandwiches and burgers. Brunch service is also planned.
“We’re hoping to attract the pre- and post-theatre crowd since the building is located across from the Carpenter Center,” he said.
At 3,500 square feet, 525 will have seating for about 150 and is being designed by Helen Reed of HL Reed Design. Trent Construction is handling the build-out.
Haas hopes to expand his Richmond footprint.
“The goal long-term is to open five or six around the city that are all slightly different,” he said.