Downtown lunch spot grows above ground

Craig Johnson is taking Citizen to a larger space on Main Street. Photos by Michael Thompson.

Greg Johnson is taking Citizen to a larger space on Main Street. Photos by Michael Thompson.

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 (4)

Citizen is housed at 909 E. Main St. and is open from 7 a.m. to 3 p.m. on weekdays.

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.

Well Food was open for about a year and has sold its equipment and furnishings to Citizen.

Well Food closed on April 4, according to a signs posted outside.

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!”

Craig Johnson is taking Citizen to a larger space on Main Street. Photos by Michael Thompson.

Greg Johnson is taking Citizen to a larger space on Main Street. Photos by Michael Thompson.

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 (4)

Citizen is housed at 909 E. Main St. and is open from 7 a.m. to 3 p.m. on weekdays.

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.

Well Food was open for about a year and has sold its equipment and furnishings to Citizen.

Well Food closed on April 4, according to a signs posted outside.

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!”

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Chris Terrell
Chris Terrell
7 years ago

I have lots of fond memories of Greg and Citizen when I worked in the Mutual Building. It was always obvious that with his large lunch crowd Greg needed a larger space. Best of luck going forward Greg, downtown is lucky to have its most outstanding Citizen in a bigger and better location!

edlindbloom
edlindbloom
7 years ago

Everyone who works downtown knows that Citizen is the absolute best restaurant. Greatest food. Awesome staff. I’m happy to see them moving above ground.

Brenda Bivens
Brenda Bivens
7 years ago

We will miss you in this building. I’m glad to hear you won’t be moving too far. Best of luck Greg and crew.

Jason Sullivan
Jason Sullivan
7 years ago

This is great news all around — it means the business is doing well and shorter lines for us customers. Congrats Greg, Lauren and crew. Best lunch in town!

Ellie Basch
Ellie Basch
7 years ago

Congrats to Greg and Citizen crew. Great food, awesome staff, of course it’s a runaway success!

Mike Ogilvie
Mike Ogilvie
7 years ago

I look for excuses to go downtown so I can have lunch at Citizen! Saying they serve “sandwiches, salads, and soups” is like saying the Louvre displays paintings and sculptures. It’s accurate – I guess – but wholly insulting to the awesomeness offered.
Can’t wait to see the new space.

Dawn Fitchett
Dawn Fitchett
7 years ago
Reply to  Mike Ogilvie

Mike, I’m going to take your endorsement to mean they have fabulous vegetarian options also?? Gonna have to make a trip downtown for this!

Ron Virgin
Ron Virgin
7 years ago

Greg Johnson is the biggest thing happening in the Richmond food scene since Peter Chang arrived. Forget the same handful of people that Style Weekly adores, sometimes “the less you ask for, the more you get”.

William Schooley
William Schooley
7 years ago

Congrats to Greg on the move. He’s going to kill it in that spot. I will miss lunches on the patio watching people try to find the current location.

Josh McCullar
Josh McCullar
7 years ago

When the venerable and much loved A Moveable Feast closed on Cary Street I was desperate for something other than cheap take out, hot dogs, or white bread subs. Citizen saved my lunch hour. With their move, their primary customer base will be no more than 2 blocks away. I am so excited about this news. Long Live Citizen! The businesses in Shockoe Slip have reason to rejoice in this relocation.