Whether it was celebrity chefs moving in or local operators adding new locations, Richmond’s restaurant scene piled a lot more on to its plate in 2014.
Here are some of the highlights of local restaurant news from this year:
Mike Isabella, known for his time on the show “Top Chef,” opened Graffiato at 123 W. Broad St. downtown in the former Popkin Tavern space. The pizza and pasta restaurant is also owned by Hilda Staples and Travis Croxton.
Staples is partnering with Bryan Voltaggio, also of “Top Chef,” to expand a concept called Family Meal to Willow Lawn.
And Croxton is joining forces with the heavy metal band GWAR to open GWARbar in Jackson Ward. Jonathan Staples, the husband of Hilda Staples, also has a stake in GWARbar.
Restaurateurs of local fame also made some interesting moves. Joe Sparratta of Heritage in the Fan, Lee Gregory of Church Hill’s The Roosevelt, and Matthew Gottwald of Beechwood Farms in Goochland opened Southbound in the Stony Point Shopping Center.
Patrick Harris, known for his Boka-branded eateries and food trucks, also went Southside with a restaurant property just off Forest Hill Avenue.
Karen Verdisco opened a second location of her Brew Gastropub on the Southside.
Chris Tsui and his EAT Restaurant Partners added to their holdings with the opening of Foo Dog in the Fan.
Downtown, longtime favorite Perly’s was brought back to new life by restaurateurs Johnny Giavos and Kevin Roberts, along with local developer Scott Coleman. The trio plans to eventually open a market next door to the Kosher deli.
Further east on Grace Street, Amy Ayers plans to reopen Julep’s, currently operating downtown, on the first floor of the Shield’s Shoe building. In the West End, Giavos, along with Manny Mendez of the Fan’s Kuba Kuba, bought Flinn’s Restaurant and plan to convert the property into another Cuban and Caribbean eatery.
Also seeing opportunity in Henrico County, Ted Santarella opened a version of his downtown Tarrant’s Cafe in the West End. And a third Carytown Burgers and Fries is set to open in Towne Center West. Garland Taylor of Home Team Grill opened a new concept called Urban Tavern in the West End.
Short Pump saw its share of action, too. Kevin Healy plans to open a third location of his Boathouse restaurant in Short Pump. And Burger Bach, which has locations in Short Pump and Carytown, has a new location planned for North Carolina. The owners of Short Pump’s Tazza Kitchen have locations in the works in North Carolina, Northern Virginia and Richmond’s Southside.
But the year did bring some bad news to local restaurateurs. Jake Crocker and D. Hayden Fisher closed Jorge’s Cantina in the Fan and were later sued for allegedly defaulting on a loan for a restaurant they own on the Canal Walk.
Finally, several new, independently owned concepts created a lot of buzz in neighborhoods around the city. New spots from 2014 include Lucy’s and The Rogue Gentlemen in Jackson Ward, Metzger Bar and Butchery in Church Hill and L’Opossum in Oregon Hill.