Connections forged in the world of local antiques helped land a new cafe a spot inside a Staples Mill Road shop.
Gretchen’s Cafe & Catering opened Sept. 25 inside Project1, an interior design and antiques showroom at 2012 Staples Mill Road.
Husband-and-wife team Gretchen and Dave Perkins have sub-leased about 800 square feet of the store, which is about 6,000 square feet and was formerly home to Side Pocket pool hall.
The building’s past as a pool hall left it with the bones of a restaurant waiting to be brought to life. Project1 owner Matt Earle said he got wind of the Perkins’ cooking skills through the antiques world grapevine and gave them a call about opening a cafe in the unused space.
“They came very highly recommended to me,” said Earle, who also owns the West End Antiques Mall. “We thought it would be a great fit for the direction we want to go here.”
The couple’s reputation came from Dave Perkins’ work finishing antiques and his wife’s catering company, Creative Cooking, which did some jobs for people in the antiques scene.
Gretchen Perkins said after 25 years of working in the food industry, it was time to start a new course.
“I’ve worked for plenty of other people, so I might as well do it on my own now,” she said. “It’s something we can get off the ground by ourselves and grow.”
She wouldn’t say how much it cost to open the cafe but said it is self-financed. The cafe targets the lunch crowd with soups, sandwiches, salads and desserts. It can seat 36 people and is open Tuesday through Sunday in the afternoon.
Perkins said she was encouraged to launch the business by demand in the area for another dining option.
“We just heard from a lot of people that ever since the pool hall closed down, it was really lacking food service in the area,” she said.
Perkins said she hopes to eventually expand her operations, possibly by adding more space to her new venture or trying out other ideas.
“This is a definitely just a stepping stone,” she said. “There’s ample opportunity with the foodie growth in Richmond.”