Carytown gets a taste of Down Under

A former Richmond restaurateur has stepped back into the game and brought the taste of New Zealand burgers to Carytown.

Michael Ripp recently opened Burger Bach in the old Ellwood Thompson’s Cafe space in Carytown, where he is serving up grass-fed meat shipped from New Zealand.

The restaurant opened Feb. 10 and sells beef, lamb and veggie burgers, chicken sandwiches, salads and fries in the $7 to $19 range. Burger Bach also offers wine and has about 12 craft beers on tap, including three from New Zealand.

Ripp, a Richmond native, hatched the idea for his burger joint after visiting his son, who lived in New Zealand for nine years.

“I used to visit [New Zealand] several times a year,” he said. “They raise their cattle naturally, and all of the meat is grass-fed and that made sense to me.”

Ripp said the name “bach” (pronounced “batch”) is a type of vacation home or beach house in New Zealand and is also short for bachelor pad. He said that, after World War II, baches were made from scrap metal, wood and other used materials and that he wanted to emulate that concept.

“What we wanted to do was [have] a fun place to go and get good food that’s good for you at a reasonable price,” he said. “A place to get away for the weekend.”

Ripp also took up an interest in natural food after having bladder cancer diagnosed three years ago.

“I really learned the importance of healthy food, and the more I focused on my health, the more the idea generated in my mind,” he said.

Ripp started looking into launching his concept in Richmond about a year ago. He always had his eye on the former Ellwood’s coffee shop, where he had become a regular and befriended owner Rick Hood.

“I was always interested in the space,” he said. “Carytown had the right mix. There’s plenty of retail and traffic.”

Then his wish came true.

The Carytown grocer closed the coffee shop in September to combine it with its market across the street.

With a $200,000 investment, Ripp leased the 1,900-square-foot space at 10 S. Thompson St.

Burger Bach will have some competition from such new joints as Station 2 and BurgerWorks and old-timers like Carytown Burger and Fries. But that’s not scaring Ripp.

“We’re the only guys doing the grass-fed burgers,” he said.

Others have tried their hand in the local burger business.

Meat on the Street, a mobile food cart launched by the owners of Belmont Butchery, latched on to the grass-fed burger concept in April but closed in December.

Then there was the short-lived Boom-Boom Burger, which was in business in Shockoe Bottom for only about five months.

Michael Ripp

Michael Ripp

Ripp, 50, does have experience on his side.

He opened and ran three bars in Shockoe Bottom, including Havana ’59, City Bar and Chop House and O’Brien’s Irish Pub (now Rosie Connolly’s). Ripp had to close all three after Hurricane Gaston in 2004. Havana ’59 and Rosie Connolly’s have reopened under different ownership.

The restaurant business is also in his blood. Ripp’s family owns Carytown restaurant Can Can, which has been open for seven years.

Ripp said he was itching to get back to doing what he knows.

“Nothing really else came to mind,” he said. “I’ve wanted to do burgers the last three years.”

Burger Bach is only open for dinner now, but Ripp said it will start serving lunch at the end of March. In the next couple of weeks, the menu will also get beefed up with steak, fish and other seafood dishes.

There is seating for about 72 inside, and Ripp plans to add a patio that will seat 16.

A former Richmond restaurateur has stepped back into the game and brought the taste of New Zealand burgers to Carytown.

Michael Ripp recently opened Burger Bach in the old Ellwood Thompson’s Cafe space in Carytown, where he is serving up grass-fed meat shipped from New Zealand.

The restaurant opened Feb. 10 and sells beef, lamb and veggie burgers, chicken sandwiches, salads and fries in the $7 to $19 range. Burger Bach also offers wine and has about 12 craft beers on tap, including three from New Zealand.

Ripp, a Richmond native, hatched the idea for his burger joint after visiting his son, who lived in New Zealand for nine years.

“I used to visit [New Zealand] several times a year,” he said. “They raise their cattle naturally, and all of the meat is grass-fed and that made sense to me.”

Ripp said the name “bach” (pronounced “batch”) is a type of vacation home or beach house in New Zealand and is also short for bachelor pad. He said that, after World War II, baches were made from scrap metal, wood and other used materials and that he wanted to emulate that concept.

“What we wanted to do was [have] a fun place to go and get good food that’s good for you at a reasonable price,” he said. “A place to get away for the weekend.”

Ripp also took up an interest in natural food after having bladder cancer diagnosed three years ago.

“I really learned the importance of healthy food, and the more I focused on my health, the more the idea generated in my mind,” he said.

Ripp started looking into launching his concept in Richmond about a year ago. He always had his eye on the former Ellwood’s coffee shop, where he had become a regular and befriended owner Rick Hood.

“I was always interested in the space,” he said. “Carytown had the right mix. There’s plenty of retail and traffic.”

Then his wish came true.

The Carytown grocer closed the coffee shop in September to combine it with its market across the street.

With a $200,000 investment, Ripp leased the 1,900-square-foot space at 10 S. Thompson St.

Burger Bach will have some competition from such new joints as Station 2 and BurgerWorks and old-timers like Carytown Burger and Fries. But that’s not scaring Ripp.

“We’re the only guys doing the grass-fed burgers,” he said.

Others have tried their hand in the local burger business.

Meat on the Street, a mobile food cart launched by the owners of Belmont Butchery, latched on to the grass-fed burger concept in April but closed in December.

Then there was the short-lived Boom-Boom Burger, which was in business in Shockoe Bottom for only about five months.

Michael Ripp

Michael Ripp

Ripp, 50, does have experience on his side.

He opened and ran three bars in Shockoe Bottom, including Havana ’59, City Bar and Chop House and O’Brien’s Irish Pub (now Rosie Connolly’s). Ripp had to close all three after Hurricane Gaston in 2004. Havana ’59 and Rosie Connolly’s have reopened under different ownership.

The restaurant business is also in his blood. Ripp’s family owns Carytown restaurant Can Can, which has been open for seven years.

Ripp said he was itching to get back to doing what he knows.

“Nothing really else came to mind,” he said. “I’ve wanted to do burgers the last three years.”

Burger Bach is only open for dinner now, but Ripp said it will start serving lunch at the end of March. In the next couple of weeks, the menu will also get beefed up with steak, fish and other seafood dishes.

There is seating for about 72 inside, and Ripp plans to add a patio that will seat 16.

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Tom Depcrynski
Tom Depcrynski
10 years ago

Since the Ripp family has a hand in this new adventure and I know it was well researched, this place ought to be a big hit!! The Ripp family led by their father Richard J. Ripp does nothing that is not just first class from all the Arby’s in the Richmond area and Can Can the jewel of the restaurant business, this should continue their dominance in Great food with impeccable service. Try it, you’ll like it!

Hilton W. Graham II
Hilton W. Graham II
10 years ago

Had dinner there on Tuesday night. It was great. We ordered a bacon cheeseburger and the veggie burger. Both were excellent. You will have to order fries seperately as the burgers come with a salad but the salad were good…very fresh. The service was great and they keep local brews on tap (Hardywood). Certainly worth the visit.

Julia
Julia
10 years ago

I stopped by the restaurant last week- it is wonderful! Great service, great food. Loved the atmosphere.

Jen
Jen
10 years ago

I won’t go into full detail, but if you like the following, please try out this restaurant:
– greasy, underseasoned burgers
– very little choice in the temperature of your burger
– overdressed salads (as in way too much oil/vinegar)

The atmosphere was nice, the renovations look great, but the food (esp. for the price) was underwhelming.

Tom Depcrynski
Tom Depcrynski
10 years ago
Reply to  Jen

Seems like the unusual experience based on other comments , maybe some one had a bad day, so tell them, they solicit comments like this, instead of just walking away. Again the family is the best. give them another chance as some would not. You won’t be sorry!!

Jen
Jen
10 years ago
Reply to  Tom Depcrynski

I hear you, Tom, but that’s really not my style. I personally don’t enjoy confronting someone and telling them their food sucks. I’d be surprised if many people do. My ‘vote’ for good food is coming back, and I probably won’t be. I have my go-to burger place in Richmond which I compare every other place against. It’s not only cheaper, but the burgers AND fries far surpass the quality of the overpriced Burger Bach. Seriously…$32 (plus tip) for 2 burgers, 2 beers, and fries. I expected much better. As for the other reviewers, I can’t speak for them. Nor… Read more »

DAnny
DAnny
10 years ago
Reply to  Jen

Seems like a passive aggressive way to be. Not willing to stand up for yourself and demand you get what you pay for but in person more than happy to trash somebody online. Having been in the industry for 20 years I know that having a customer inform a restaurant about their mistakes is extremely important. Way more important than the placating “Fine, Great, Love it!” BS people say all the time. We want, need a love to know what people honestly think. By the way, what is the name of you favorite burger place? I’m always looking for a… Read more »

Chris
Chris
10 years ago
Reply to  Jen

After my first experience at Burger Bach, I would tend to agree with Jen. Compared to some other burger places in Richmond, the Bach burgers are composed well, but their featured instrument, the meat itself, was out of tune. Some char and a little (more) salt/pepper would have greatly improved the patty. With great meat comes great responsibility to cook and season it well, especially for ~$10/burger.

The atmosphere was nice, and the cilantro dipping sauce for the fries was fantastic.

I recommend Patrick Henry Pub ($4 burgers on Tuesdays), Honey Whytes, or Station 2.

Bill Chapman
Bill Chapman
10 years ago

I’ve taken the family there twice now and love it! Management is friendly and accommodating and I love being able to take my son to a restaurant where I can feel good about the food being served. Grass fed burgers are lean and well seasoned, chicken burgers are antibiotic and hormone free and the side salads are perfect.

A great addition to Carytown and to Richmond.

Bruce Milam
Bruce Milam
10 years ago

do you remember the ’80’s when “corn-fed beef” was all the rage? Well, we learned that cows don’t naturally eat corn; cows eat grass! I love the taste of grass-fed beef. It’s weird that they have to import it from New Zealand though. There are such farms here in Virginia.

Veronica
Veronica
10 years ago

I ate there on Monday and I was impressed. The burgers were juicy, flavorful, and unique. I also ordered the fries with two dipping sauces (garlic and jalapeno) and both were very good. For those who say the burgers are “too greasy” then they must like overcooked dry messes. The burgers had a great mixture of juices and fat– natural fat not that added-grease fat like fast food chains. Ever get high quality ground sirloin from places like Belmont Butchery? They also have the “good fat” and juices in that meat naturally. That is what makes the best burgers. As… Read more »

Veronica
Veronica
10 years ago

Also, yes the draft beers might be “pricy” for some. However, they have many local favorites on tap. I was impressed with the great selection, especially from the Hardywood guys, who I must add they are great people who make great beer.

The draft beers they server are of higer-quality than your mainstream beers, such as Bud and Miller. You *pay* for quality.

I love the new place. If you think the place is overpriced, then don’t order and you won’t have to complain about the price of a meal. It is not like they hide the prices.

Adam Darski
Adam Darski
10 years ago

The burgers are good, juicy with great flavor combinations. That said, the extra flavors cancel out any difference to be found with the grass fed beef. Add to that the premium you pay for the beef and it all becomes pretty null. The restaurant itself has a great vibe and would be a great burgers and beer place, but who wants to drop $32 for two burgers, two beers and an order of fries every weekend?

Tom Depcrynski
Tom Depcrynski
10 years ago

So Jen, your just looking for a cheap burger, that’s a shame, again as in a democracy there are always the other side, yours seems to be short and I know the family, one could tell them how too improve, so just sit in your little world and eat cheap, life is too short , you must be one of the 99%. the response seems to be over whelming again too bad for you.

Brett McNamee
Brett McNamee
10 years ago

Oh my goodness, so good to have Michael back in action. One of the most talented restaurant minds ever. Cannot wait to try the Burger concept.

RIC12345
RIC12345
10 years ago

The family’s biggest restaurant success is from all of their Arby’s in the market…19 stores. They are the top-producing Arby’s franchisees in the country. Perhaps the author should have done a bit more research before missing the core of the family’s restaurant business and experience.

Tom Depcrynski
Tom Depcrynski
10 years ago

Seems bizsence has fallen down that hole before RIC12345, The response rules state that first and last names be used or comments may not be approved, Jen must like to hide behind that issue, take no responsibility for on line backstabbing. Jen tell us so we no your food critic credentials. I have 20 years owning stores, one in Carytown and not afraid to tell anyone my name!!

Chris Johnson
Chris Johnson
10 years ago
Reply to  Tom Depcrynski

Perhaps Jen got a bad burger? Maybe I got the same? Once their menu fills out, I’ll certainly go back and give them another shot. Food tastes are subjective, so it seems futile to tell someone their opinion doesn’t count. Then again, perhaps you’re so biased and defensive because you work with the Ripp family.

Also, 8 out of 18 comments are from users who didn’t provide their last name. If judging people for their commenting etiquette is so important, you should at least spell things correctly to get your point across. Let’s keep it about the food.

Casey Quinlan
Casey Quinlan
10 years ago

Any doubt that RVA is a foodie town will be dispelled by this post alone – a burger joint has incited more comment than any other 5 stories combined this week! I haven’t been to Burger Bach yet, will likely close that gap tonight, but even before my 1st experience I’m inclined to think positively given that I’m something of a food fascist myself after a dance with the cancer troll. Grass-fed beef burger chains are popular/successful on the west coast,and given that Virginia is, pound for pound, one of the most ag-driven economies in the US says that there’s… Read more »

Tom Depcrynski
Tom Depcrynski
10 years ago

Well , Chris I must have been taught by a union teacher when it came to spelling so why bring it up! I do know the family but so do many others so if you want to stick to food do so. My spelling has nothing to do with the subject, correcting my spelling shows me what really counts to you. I read my post and never said her opinion did not count, on the contrary I ask her to help improve the product with feedback, evidently you had that same union teacher except see failed on reading. I also… Read more »

Chris Johnson
Chris Johnson
10 years ago
Reply to  Tom Depcrynski

…Yet you continue to trash people online. People comment to express a variety of opinions, not to receive overly biased hypocrisy back from a perfect stranger. “…So just sit in your little world and eat cheap, life is too short, you must be one of the 99%.” “Jen must like to hide behind that issue, take no responsibility for online backstabbing.” We’re all entitled to our opinions of the food and our methods of expressing those opinions – they don’t need to be approved of or filtered by you. None of your comments have actually said anything specific about the… Read more »

Tom Depcrynski
Tom Depcrynski
10 years ago

Woops! I said see as opposed to she my my union teachers bad!

Tom Depcrynski
Tom Depcrynski
10 years ago

Casey, I am sorry about your dance with the cancer troll, hope all is well now. I asked someone at Arby’s and they said their roast beef is the grass feed beef but no hamburgers yet. You might want to ask Mike tonight about Va. grown beef, it might be a supple and demand isssue, I do not know but please give them feedback to better their product. By the way, Chris I never have been in the restaurant business, you must have me confused with someone else. I just like great food and you do usually get what you… Read more »

Tom Depcrynski
Tom Depcrynski
10 years ago

Woops! issue is spelled with one too many s’s

Elle L.
Elle L.
10 years ago

Most entertaining comment spread I have read in a long time. Thank you Tom for being an angry, yet entertaining burger/spelling/Richmond bizsenseRules commentator. It made my Friday! Steve Burton is even offended that he didn’t get as much attention for $4mill flop plan.