Pinstripes meet small plates

A local bartender is taking his first crack at the Richmond restaurant scene, and his venture is the first sign of life on the ground floor of the Berry Burk building.

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.”

After meeting two men this year who were looking to bring life back to the Berry Burk, Haas jumped at the chance. He wouldn’t name the two, only saying that they are silent partners.

“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.

A local bartender is taking his first crack at the Richmond restaurant scene, and his venture is the first sign of life on the ground floor of the Berry Burk building.

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.”

After meeting two men this year who were looking to bring life back to the Berry Burk, Haas jumped at the chance. He wouldn’t name the two, only saying that they are silent partners.

“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.

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Kathy Thomas
Kathy Thomas
10 years ago

This is exciting, I can’t wait to go there! I’d love it if you’d write a story on HL Reed Design, because that company seems to be the common thread with all of the new and interesting restaurants in this region.

James
James
10 years ago

525 will definitely succeed in this beautiful section of E Grace St. This long overlooked location in Downtown Richmond will surely become the most sophisticated go to area of Richmond’s Art district.

joe
joe
10 years ago

Good luck! I think this area is critical to the future of downtown.

Brett
Brett
10 years ago

Can’t wait, thank you for bringing back business to Grace St. How wonderful it would be if the city would close 3 or 4 blocks of Grace and create a pedestrian mall like Charlottesville. The sidewalks are begging for diners beneath those beautiful shade trees. And please, please, please do not make the same mistake as Pasture and ignore the importance of acoustics. It is so loud in there that your waitress cannot even hear your order.

Tom Haas
Tom Haas
10 years ago

Thanks for the great article, Amy! I agree with Kathy about an article on Helen and her staff at HLReed Design. They’re amazing, and play a major role in the culinary scene of our city. Brett, thanks for the advice on acoustics! With those high ceilings (which I love), the sound issue can definitely be a bit tricky. We’ve got some plans to take care of that issue, but we’re also always open to suggestions! Check out our facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/#!/pages/525-At-The-Berry-Burk/187787404629215 and feel free to hit us up with ideas or advice! We definitely have the nature and feel… Read more »

Brett
Brett
10 years ago

Not to take anything away from Pasture, you are correct, the food was amazing. I don’t think three chicken wings and a scoop of potato salad is worth $11, but I highly recommend the brussel sprouts, trout and navy beans. I look forward to their acoustic solution. When they figure it out, hopefully they will pass the info on to Station 2, also delicious, but noisy as hell. It just seems like a kick in the head to the customer when an establishment knowingly ignores a problem or pretends it doesn’t exist. Especially when there are so many quick and… Read more »

Jeff E.
Jeff E.
10 years ago

You know Brett, Grace Street gets so little traffic that pedestrian mall idea might actually fly. It would take a coming together of a lot of parties, private and public, to pull it off however.

Glad that private investors are taking a chance on Grace. That area of downtown I think is a good bet in the long term, especially with the John Marshall Hotel conversion going on. Best of luck to you 525!

Jim Donahue
Jim Donahue
10 years ago

Great and all the best to both restaurants!! That block and area was once home to some very stylish and sophisticated retailers – Montaldo’s, Ardley’s, LaVogue, Eljo’s – here’s to it’s re-emergence as an equally stylish “restaurant row”.

Simon Beltz
Simon Beltz
10 years ago

I’m fortunate enough to live just above 525’s location and can’t wait for it open! Seeing that it’ll be the only intimate restaurant nearby, the location couldn’t be better with the Carpenter Center, Hilton, Marriot, and John Marshall Hotel being within walking distance. Grace Street has tremendous potential to become a vibrant retail district like it used to be and I’m glad to see investors beginning to reshape this section of downtown.

525 Tenant
525 Tenant
10 years ago

I also live above 525. Although the restaurant’s construction is a bit of nuisance (thanks for taking up half the garage for a month — although it’s not your fault the property owner didn’t find temporary parking for tenants during this phase of your project), I hope it helps pave the way for new ventures in the area. Maybe you should have a “preview” sampling for tenants before opening night. We’ll help get the word out about this exciting new development.

gia
gia
10 years ago

I will move to Richmond in roughly two weeks, and I simply cannot wait until it opens. I have only seen pictures and the area looks amazing as well as the menu. I know I will attend the restaurant every week since I will be living right above.