Caterers say ‘I do’ to downtown property

Todd Butler and Chad Thompson opened Lola's Out of the Box Lunches on Franklin Street Monday. Photo by Michael Thompson.

Todd Butler and Chad Thompson opened Lola’s Out of the Box Lunches on Franklin Street Monday. Photo by Michael Thompson.

A pair of Southside entrepreneurs have boxed up their business and headed downtown.

Todd Butler and Chad Thompson opened Lola’s Out of the Box Lunches at 10 E. Franklin St. on Monday. The 11,000-square-foot space will also be headquarters for Butler’s Unique Catering, launched in 2005.

The move gives the boxed lunch and catering business room to offer eat-in dining on weekdays, as well as an event space to meets its goal to go after a slice of the Richmond wedding market.

“We’ve been looking for a while for our own ballroom for clients who want to do a wedding at a reasonable price,” Butler said. “We fell in love with the décor and the history behind it.”

Butler said he spent more than $50,000 of his own money to get the downtown space ready to host weddings and serve lunch.

A catering business with its own venue gives the company an advantage in the competitive wedding industry, he said.

The space at 10 E. Franklin St. serves as an event venue and tasting room for Butler's Unique Catering. Photo by Michael Thompson.

The space at 10 E. Franklin St. serves as an event venue and tasting room for Butler’s Unique Catering. Photo by Michael Thompson.

“We can sell the space and offer our food,” Butler said. “There’s no competition for food catering in our venue.”

They’ll have the ability to cater weddings, from ceremony to reception, inside the Monroe Ward space. The building has a conference room, ballroom, separate dressing rooms for the bride and groom, tasting room and an outdoor patio.

The company is charging $5,400 to rent out the entire upper and lower levels.

Lola’s does eat-in dining Monday through Friday, as well as box lunches that can be ordered to-go or for events.

Butler and Thompson had been operating Lola’s since 2012 out of 800 square feet at 8002 Buford Court just south of Bon Air. Butler bought the business six years ago from Danielle Weis.

Thompson and Butler signed a five-year lease in May for their share of the downtown building. The space was once occupied by the Colony Club and Homemades by Suzanne, a catering and lunch business that eventually moved to the John Marshall Building at 101 N. 5th St.

Suzanne White of Divaris Real Estate, who handles the leasing of the 120-year-old building, said the space had sat vacant since 2012.

MJM Enterprises, an LLC with a principal office in Midlothian, owns the property, according to public records.

Butler’s Unique Catering isn’t the only events business making moves around town. Groovin Gourmets Catering is leaving its home on West Cary Street for a new facility Scott’s Addition.

Besides competing with other operations, Butler said he has to deal with a different sort of market trend.

“Everyone is on the do-it-yourself,” Butler said. “Then they find out the day of it’s a lot harder than it looks.”

Todd Butler and Chad Thompson opened Lola's Out of the Box Lunches on Franklin Street Monday. Photo by Michael Thompson.

Todd Butler and Chad Thompson opened Lola’s Out of the Box Lunches on Franklin Street Monday. Photo by Michael Thompson.

A pair of Southside entrepreneurs have boxed up their business and headed downtown.

Todd Butler and Chad Thompson opened Lola’s Out of the Box Lunches at 10 E. Franklin St. on Monday. The 11,000-square-foot space will also be headquarters for Butler’s Unique Catering, launched in 2005.

The move gives the boxed lunch and catering business room to offer eat-in dining on weekdays, as well as an event space to meets its goal to go after a slice of the Richmond wedding market.

“We’ve been looking for a while for our own ballroom for clients who want to do a wedding at a reasonable price,” Butler said. “We fell in love with the décor and the history behind it.”

Butler said he spent more than $50,000 of his own money to get the downtown space ready to host weddings and serve lunch.

A catering business with its own venue gives the company an advantage in the competitive wedding industry, he said.

The space at 10 E. Franklin St. serves as an event venue and tasting room for Butler's Unique Catering. Photo by Michael Thompson.

The space at 10 E. Franklin St. serves as an event venue and tasting room for Butler’s Unique Catering. Photo by Michael Thompson.

“We can sell the space and offer our food,” Butler said. “There’s no competition for food catering in our venue.”

They’ll have the ability to cater weddings, from ceremony to reception, inside the Monroe Ward space. The building has a conference room, ballroom, separate dressing rooms for the bride and groom, tasting room and an outdoor patio.

The company is charging $5,400 to rent out the entire upper and lower levels.

Lola’s does eat-in dining Monday through Friday, as well as box lunches that can be ordered to-go or for events.

Butler and Thompson had been operating Lola’s since 2012 out of 800 square feet at 8002 Buford Court just south of Bon Air. Butler bought the business six years ago from Danielle Weis.

Thompson and Butler signed a five-year lease in May for their share of the downtown building. The space was once occupied by the Colony Club and Homemades by Suzanne, a catering and lunch business that eventually moved to the John Marshall Building at 101 N. 5th St.

Suzanne White of Divaris Real Estate, who handles the leasing of the 120-year-old building, said the space had sat vacant since 2012.

MJM Enterprises, an LLC with a principal office in Midlothian, owns the property, according to public records.

Butler’s Unique Catering isn’t the only events business making moves around town. Groovin Gourmets Catering is leaving its home on West Cary Street for a new facility Scott’s Addition.

Besides competing with other operations, Butler said he has to deal with a different sort of market trend.

“Everyone is on the do-it-yourself,” Butler said. “Then they find out the day of it’s a lot harder than it looks.”

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