Two restaurateurs are following their soul food spot with an even sweeter concept on the same block in Shockoe Bottom.
Lewis and Tatia Asare plan to open Crush, a smoothie and water ice shop, at 1810 E. Main St. in September. The husband-and-wife team also owns Sweet Teas, a restaurant they opened a few doors down on Main Street last year.
Tatia Asare grew up in Philadelphia where water ice – a fruit-flavored ice dessert that doesn’t use dairy – is popular, and the couple saw a void in the downtown market.
“There’s no dessert, water ice, or smoothie shop in downtown Richmond,” Lewis Asare said. “We just want to bring something different to the Bottom and grow it.”
Crush has a three-year lease for the 1,250-square-foot space that had previously been home to Café Verde, a vegan taco and cupcake joint that closed in July.
The Asares are spending $7,500 of their personal savings to open Crush.
The Asares are also in the midst of an expansion plan for their Sweet Teas brand. A Norfolk Sweet Teas is set to open in September. And next year, the Asares said they’ll look to open a Sweet Teas in Venice Beach, Calif.
Tatia Asare said her brother, Los Angeles Lakers basketball player Ed Davis, will oversee the California location.
The Bottom won’t be the only place in Richmond to get water ice. Zach, Rob and Paulette Lamb opened their second Ray’s Italian Water Ice & Frozen Custard location in Short Pump in June.
Unlike the Lambs’ operation, Crush plans to stay open year-round. During the winter, the Asares said they hope to lure customers to Crush with free Wi-Fi, baked goods and possibly sandwiches.
The Asares’ new venture is the latest to test the water of the Shockoe Bottom food market, which has seen its share of comings and goings recently.
Two of the neighborhood’s restaurants closed in June, and three others moved into the Bottom in recent months. The new additions include former Sweet Teas employee Shane Thomas, who opened Southern Kitchen: The Mouth of the South just across the street from Sweet Teas in July.