A Museum District restaurant is changing owners.
The Franklin Inn at 800 Cleveland St. is being sold to Steven Gooch, a local businessman who is purchasing the company from Bedros Bandazian of Bandazian & Co.
Neither side would disclose the purchase price.
Bandazian, 77, put the 4-year-old restaurant up for sale earlier this year. He said he wanted to sell for personal and business reasons. The 1,000-square-foot restaurant property was built in 1922.
“I had many suitors who wanted it,” Bandazian said. “It’s like a mini “Cheers” sort of place.”
The Franklin Inn will be Gooch’s first restaurant and the first business he owns in Richmond. He said he is encouraged by the fact that, comparatively speaking, there few restaurants near The Franklin Inn and most of its patrons reach it by walking.
“It’s a bit of an oasis in a restaurant desert,” Gooch said.
The property opened originally as The Franklin Inn sometime in the 1930s. The venue saw different operators and incarnations in the years that followed, including more recently The Corner Cafe and Cleveland Street Deli.
Bandazian opened it as The Franklin Inn in 2011 and sought to put the property back in touch with its past. Historic decor was installed, and items like Senate bean soup and house-made corned beef were put on the menu.
That was part of the draw for Gooch.
“I liked the historical connections,” he said.
Gooch, 55, said he plans to maintain and build on what Bandazian did.
“I don’t want to be trendy,” he said. “We’re trying to very much recreate what a neighborhood bar would be like in the ’30s.”
He said he plans to expand the menu and eventually bring on a new chef. High-end scotches and bourbons are being added, and the wine list will also get an upgrade. Gooch said there hasn’t been any turnover in staff since he has taken over The Franklin Inn.
Gooch’s last job was as CFO for Teleflex Aerospace, and the Chesterfield resident is part of an investment group called Linden Tree Capital, which is helping with some short-term financing.
He said while food may not be his forte, he’ll rely on his business acumen and help from staff to succeed in the competitive restaurant industry.
“I do have the business skills to put out a consistently high-quality product,” he said. “I can at least maintain what was there, and with my background I can certainly hope to improve it.”