A popular downtown restaurant is rising up out of the basement.
Citizen is relocating to 1203 E. Main St., a move that will give it nearly twice the space as its current home in the lower floor of the Mutual Building at 909 E. Main St.
Owner Greg Johnson, who started Citizen in 2011, said the business will reopen in its new 2,000-square foot address in June.
“I needed a larger space,” Johnson said. “People are tired of waiting in line. My lease was up, and it was time to not be an underground restaurant anymore.”
Citizen will take over a storefront formerly home to Well Food, a fast food spot that opened last year. Johnson said he purchased Well Food’s restaurant equipment last week in a deal brokered by Bedros Bandazian and Nathan Hughes of Bandazian and Hughes.
“I’ll still sit in the center of the business district,” Johnson said. “I have a great following. The close proximity (to the original location) is one of the huge attractions.”
Johnson plans to gut the former Well Food space but hasn’t yet picked a contractor. He said he’s getting design help from his friends Tom Brickman and Diane Matthews. He’ll look to sell the restaurant equipment used at the original Citizen location.
Johnson would not say how much the expansion, first reported by Richmond.com, is expected to cost. He did say he is getting financing from First Capital Bank.
Citizen’s lease at 909 E. Main St. ends in August, but Johnson said he isn’t sure when he will close the original Citizen or what might replace it.
The restaurant serves sandwiches, salads and soups. Johnson credits the eatery’s success to its diverse menu and healthier options.
“You can get a burger, sub or slice of pizza pretty much anywhere downtown,” he said. “Doing things a little different helps.”
In addition to more space, Johnson said the expansion may bring other changes to Citizen, such as potentially adding grilled items and expanding its hours.
“We’ll probably expand to brunch,” Johnson said. “I’d like to be open for dinner when the bike race comes through. I want them euros, damn it!”