Oyster bar owners take a crack at growing market scene

Rappahannock's owners have leased a former insurance firm's building next to their restaurant. Photos by Michael Thompson.

Rappahannock’s owners have leased a former insurance firm building next to their restaurant. Photos by Michael Thompson.

Two Richmond restaurateurs are diving into the neighborhood market trend.

Rappahannock Restaurant owners Travis and Ryan Croxton plan to open Rapp Sessions, a market and bar, at 318 E. Grace St. The cousins have leased a 1,500-square-foot space for the new venture next door to their restaurant, which opened in 2012.

Rapp Sessions will sell oysters, fish, crabmeat, scallops and other seafood, as well as meats, beer and wine. Plans for the space, first reported by the Richmond Times-Dispatch, also call for a raw bar with oysters from around the country.

The idea for the space came about because of demand for oyster pick-ups at the restaurant.

“We know there’s a need for retail oysters,” Travis Croxton said.

Croxton said Rapp Sessions is an extension of Rappahannock and will sell many items from its menu. He said its inventory will be flexible, and future additions may include coffee and pastries in the morning and prepared foods. They’ll look to have the market open by September.

Travis Croxton

Travis Croxton

“We’ll get open with the basics and evolve from there,” he said.

The new space will also help accommodate spillover from Rappahannock. The two storefronts are connected from inside, so patrons at the restaurant can grab a drink at Rapp Sessions while they wait for a table, or use the market’s bathrooms if Rappahannock’s are occupied.

The Rapp Sessions space, formerly home to an insurance company, can also be rented out for private events.

The Croxtons’ market is the latest step in the evolution of East Grace Street’s food scene, which is being fueled by both restaurants and small markets.

Kohlmann’s Neighborhood Market opened in June two blocks away from where Rapp Sessions is opening. Pop’s Market on Grace is in the works one block in the other direction. And a pizzeria is planned to open on the ground floor of the Berry Burk Building on the 500 block of East Grace Street.

The Croxton cousins have experience launching new businesses. They own Rappahannock River Oysters, a company that harvests oysters from the Chesapeake Bay. They also own a Rappahannock restaurant location in Washington, D.C., and a restaurant called Merroir in Topping, Virginia.

Travis Croxton is a part-owner of Graffiato and GWARbar in Richmond. He recently opened a new oyster bar venture under the name Rock Salt in Charlottesville and Charlotte, North Carolina, and a meat and seafood venture called Brine in Fairfax.

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