New operators are taking over the former Gibson’s Grill downtown, hoping to hit a better note in a space that has been closed since the summer.
David Peterson, Daniel Delgado, and Doug Brown plan to open Coda at 700 E. Broad St. next door to The National later this month.
Gibson’s Grill opened in 2008. It closed over the summer, according to Bill Reid, a partner at RIC Capital, which owns the restaurant space and The National.
“The lease ran out with the other guys, so Dave (Peterson) and his guys came together and gave us a really good proposal,” Reid said. “Dave was the general manager of The National when it opened in 2008.”
Peterson runs the Celebrate Virginia Live concert series in Fredericksburg. Delgado and Brown are Northern Virginia restaurateurs. The trio, operating as D3 Ventures, has a five-year lease on the 4,500-square-foot, two-story space.
They began to work together when Delgado and Brown were doing concessions for Peterson’s concert series. They had been thinking about opening a restaurant in Richmond around the time Gibson’s Grill closed, and in late spring began helping out with The National’s concessions.
“It was very serendipitous; it just kind of fell into place,” Peterson said. “We got to see how things would work before we had to, I guess, fully commit, but we knew early on that it was an opportunity we were interested in.”
When it opened in 2008, Gibson’s Grill was owned by Johnny Giavos. He left in 2011, and Brad Wells took over, Giavos said. Wells is a local concert promoter associated with James River Entertainment, an LLC that owns minority shares of The National and last year sued the controlling owners of the downtown music venue.
Peterson would not say what it’s costing to open Coda, which will serve American fare, but did say he and his partners are financing the venture themselves.
“If there’s blood on the tracks, it’s our blood,” Peterson said.
Peterson said the bar would remain on the upper level of the space and that a dining room and speakeasy is going in on the lower level. He said the restaurant will also adjust the menu to correspond with shows next door.
“Our specials will reflect the concerts,” Peterson said.
The team hopes to open Coda before the Foo Fighters come to The National on Sept. 17.
Peterson, who once had a band of his own in Richmond, said he and his partners will be guided by their experiences doing the concert series in Fredericksburg.
“My wife says to me ‘Are you sure you want to get in the restaurant business?’ I say, ‘Honey, I’m in the only business that’s riskier.’ Peterson said, referring to the music industry. “We’re not hobbyists; this is something we’re serious about.”