Two popular Richmond restaurateurs plan to see how recent food trends hold up south of the James.
Lee Gregory and Joe Sparatta plan to open Southbound, a new restaurant at 3034 Stony Point Drive in the Stony Point Shopping Center. The restaurateurs signed a 10-year-lease for the space near the corner of Forest Hill Avenue and Huguenot Road.
They’ll look to open in November.
It’s Gregory and Sparatta’s first venture together, but they’ve each already made names for themselves with restaurants of their own.
Gregory, along with Kendra Feather, opened The Roosevelt at 623 N 25th St. in Church Hill in 2011. Sparratta was one of the owners that opened Heritage at 1627 W. Main St. in the Fan in 2012.
“With two successful places already, it just felt like it was time to try to step out and try to do something else,” Gregory said. “The real gist of it is we both live over there, we know the neighborhood, and we know there’s a void.”
Similar to The Roosevelt and Heritage, Southbound will serve what Gregory called “local regional fare,” that is, food that comes from the Southeast. But at 3,600-square-feet and planned seating for 150 – a space much larger than Roosevelt or Heritage – Gregory said it will be a challenge to use products sourced nearby at Southbound.
“It will be a fine line,” Gregory said. “Take chickens – we’re not going to buy them from someone who has six chickens a week. We’ll buy it from Ashley Farms (in North Carolina) that has a lot of them.”
Gregory said Southbound will also buy from Victory Farms in Richmond, Sam Rust Seafood in Hampton, and Cavalier Produce in Charlottesville.
Buying local is a tendency more than a pre-defined limit he sets for the business model of his restaurant, Gregory said.
“You can not put a radius on something and keep things under 30 bucks,” he said. “We’re trying to be the opposite of that while still supporting the Southeast, our region.”
Gregory said he and Sparatta hope to make Southbound an attractive place for families to dine. He said they are trying to create a space where they would take their own families.
“We’re trying to be as approachable as possible and as welcoming as possible,” Gregory said. “We’re building a big restaurant so that we can get people in there when they want to be there, and be as accommodating across the board and still not sacrifice what it is that we want to do.”
Gregory said he and Sparatta have $500,000 budgeted to renovate and open the Southbound space. He said they were lured to the Stony Point Shopping Center by tenant improvement money from the landlord.
The property is owned by J.P. Morgan and managed by CBRE. The Southbound space was converted from three separate spaces that were once occupied by a dry cleaners and a shoe store.
Despite their success north of the river, Gregory and Sparatta are aware of their fickle industry.
“It’s still scary and a risk,” Gregory said.