Local restaurateurs dash toward VCU


The new Dash restaurant at 900 W. Franklin in a spot formerly occupied by Cous Cous. (Photo by Michael Thompson.)

The new Dash restaurant at 900 W. Franklin in a spot formerly occupied by Cous Cous. (Photo by Michael Thompson.)

Jessica and Josh Bufford have wasted little time building a miniature Richmond restaurant empire.

The husband-and-wife team earlier this month opened Dash Kitchen + Carry at 900 W. Franklin. It’s their third restaurant in as many years.

Dash occupies a 2,460-square-foot spot on the first floor of the Chesterfield Apartment Building. The space was formerly home to Cous Cous, which later rebranded as The Well before closing in 2013.

The new eatery is a more urban version of Toast, the couple’s first restaurant, which is located in the Village Shopping Center. The Buffords opened Toast in 2012 and followed with Estilo a few doors down last year.

Josh Bufford, left, Jessica Bufford and Ian Kinker (File Photo)

Josh Bufford, left, Jessica Bufford and Ian Kinker (File Photo)

For their latest venture in VCU country, the Buffords are looking to replicate their experience in the West End, where they serve students and professors from the University of Richmond.

“If we hadn’t seen Coach Mooney (UR’s men’s basketball coach Chris Mooney) at Toast we wouldn’t be here,” Josh Bufford said. “We believed we could find a loyal market at VCU.”

When most of the students leave in the summer, Bufford said he hopes a base of professors and other residents will carry the business through the season.

“A student-based business is a fickle one,” Bufford said.

Still, Bufford said he hopes to draw students away from nearby competitors, such as nearby Raising Cane’s Chicken Fingers and Chipotle on West Grace Street. To do so, the Buffords are considering accepting Ram Bucks, a prepaid account that VCU students use like debit cards at participating area businesses.

Dash stays open until midnight seven nights a week. It serves soups, salads, sandwiches and burgers that cost from $6 to $12. Dash has Virginia kombucha, beer and wine on tap.

“We’re working on getting more students in late at night,” Jessica Bufford said.

Having a third restaurant helps the Buffords make the most of their inventory. Scraps from sandwiches made at Dash can be used to make stock for soups at Estilo.

The Buffords also said that opening another business means more opportunities for employees.

“Part of my job is presenting career paths for people to grow,” Josh Bufford said.

They wouldn’t say how much it cost to open Dash. They are using gains from their other operations to fund their expansion.

They lease the space from the owners of the apartment building, an LLC with a principal office in New York, according to public records.


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Landon Combs
Landon Combs
7 years ago

Jessica and Josh are great people! They care about their community and the people in it. I have eaten at their establishments, and i will tell you, I have not had any bad food yet! Keep up the great work!

Pat Kelly
Pat Kelly
7 years ago

Correction: That’s Josh on the far right in the photo.

Very happy to see this spot re-opened, and even better to see the Buffords involved.