The first weeks of summer are turning into restaurant launching season.
Bella’s Italian Restaurant, which opened its first location in Charlottesville two years ago, unveiled its new Richmond outpost in June at 11408 W. Broad St.
Husband-and-wife owners Douglas Muir and Valeria Bisenti spent $539,000 to open in the 3,400-square-foot space in a Walmart-anchored Short Pump shopping center.
“We’re two days late and about 10 percent over budget, but I had a 20 percent contingency fund in there,” Muir said.
Muir said he plans to open more Bella’s locations.
“Charlottesville is too small to build a second one, but Richmond is not,” Muir said. “Richmond is growing.”
Over in Scott’s Addition, Rick Lyons, owner of Lunch, opened Supper next door at 1213 Summit Ave. in late June.
“With the explosion of the Food Network and all those television shows, people want a little something extra,” Lyons said. “It makes it more competitive. Now you have to go that extra step or folks won’t pay attention.”
His new venture is the latest entrant in the rapid expansion of development in Scott’s Addition that has included hundreds of new apartments, two new breweries and other retailers.
“Scott’s Addition is so crazy right now,” Lyons said. “I figure if the big boys are coming in and spending their top dollar, then I’ll follow their lead. I’m banking on their foresight.”
Lyons said he has a five-year lease on the 2,100-square-foot space, which was formerly headquarters for Sergeant Santa. Renovations cost $150,000, he said.
In the Fan, another Charlottesville eatery has entered the Richmond market. Continental Divide, a Southwestern restaurant, opened this month at 2501 W. Main St. The 1,800-square-foot space was formerly home to Mint Gastropub before Mint’s owner decided to move the restaurant to Petersburg.
For now, Continental Divide serves dinner only, but brunch is in the works.
Donnie Barrett, one of Continental Divide’s owners, said construction on the space included removing a foyer from the entrance, exposing the brick on the walls and adding a new concrete bar top.
Barrett owns the venture along with Chas Webster, Shaun Ferrell and Duffy Pappas, who opened the original Continental Divide decades ago in Charlottesville. The group is banking on the presence of University of Virginia alumni in Richmond to welcome them to the neighborhood.