Boychik’s owner dead at 65; passes on legacy of hard work

Scott Bruce Elias Sr.'s sons Jonathan (left) and Scott will take over Boychiks. Daughters Jessie (left) and Johnie are also part of the daily operations. (J. Elias O'Neal)

Scott Bruce Elias Sr.’s sons Jonathan (left) and Scott will take over Boychik’s. Daughters Jessie (left) and Joanie are also part of the daily operations. (J. Elias O’Neal)

It was 1990 when Scott Bruce Elias Sr. decided to pack up his family and move them from Atlanta back to Richmond.

His plan was to take a gamble and open a restaurant in Innsbrook, a sprawling community that was still in its infancy at the time.

West Broad Street was a two-lane road in 1990, Short Pump was pastures and much of the area around Innsbrook was considered to be the Richmond sticks – good for hunting, fishing and taking the scenic, albeit slow, route back to Charlottesville.

Elias’ son, Scott Elias Jr., said his father showed no trepidation in taking the risk.

“There was nothing out here, I mean nothing,” Elias Jr. recalled. “But when he saw the plans for Innsbrook he saw the potential of the location and opened the restaurant. He saw what it would become.”

Scott Elias, Sr.

Scott Elias, Sr.

In November 1991, Elias Sr. opened Boychik’s Deli, one of the first restaurants to establish itself at the West Broad Street entrance of the sprawling office park.

Nearly 25 years later, with his deli firmly planted as an Innsbrook mainstay, Scott Elias Sr. died Sept. 30 at the age of 65 after fighting cancer. He is survived by his wife Becky; sons Elias Jr., Johnny Elias, and Sam Elias; and daughters Jessie, Punkie and Joanie Elias; eight grandchildren and one great-granddaughter.

Boychik’s is now managed by Johnny and Elias Jr. and they said their father made clear that the restaurant shouldn’t miss a beat.

“We all worked the Sunday before his burial,” Johnny said. “He always said, ‘Even if I die, don’t you dare close the restaurant’…we honored his wishes. It seemed like a fitting tribute because we know he was here with us.”

Building Boychik’s’ success wasn’t easy at first.

The restaurant didn’t turn a profit the first two years it was in business – a result of its location in what was then the outskirts of town.

But continued growth of the area, and rave reviews about Boychik’s Matzah Ball soup, changed all of that by 1993, Elias Jr. said.

“Customers found us and the business began to take in more income,” he said. “(Elias Sr.) stayed the course and he reaped the benefits from taking a risk early on…it worked out.”

For the next two decades Elias Sr. would work hard to build his business’ reputation in the community. The father of six worked Monday through Sunday, and on holidays, to provide for his family and take care of his customers.

“He was a family man that truly cared about everyone that came through our doors,” Elias Jr. said. “It’s what kept people coming back to our restaurant for years and years. My dad was a fighter and a hard worker…he loved coming to Boychik’s because he loved to work.”

Elias Sr. opened Boychiks Deli in November 1991. (J. Elias O'Neal)

Elias Sr. opened Boychiks Deli in November 1991. (J. Elias O’Neal)

A New York native, Elias Sr. moved to Richmond with his family in the mid-1960s when he was 13. He graduated from Henrico’s John Randolph Tucker High School in 1969, and would later attend VCU.

But his love for the nightlife and restaurant industry grew while in college, and after two years at VCU, Elias Sr. left school and founded and operated two nightclubs in the mid-’70s: Poor Boys and Playpen.

“That’s where he got his start,” Elias Jr. said. “He learned from that experience before starting out in restaurants.”

Elias Sr. eventually quit the nightclub business – packing up his family and moving them down south to Fort Lauderdale, Florida, where he operated a restaurant called Glasshouse Café and sold children’s clothes at the city’s Swap Shop Flea Market.

“He used to have us model the clothes,” Jessie Elias laughed with her twin sister Joanie Wednesday morning at Boychik’s. “There was this big carousel in the Swap Shop, and me and my sister always wanted to ride it, but we had to wait because we had to model the clothes.”

After a stint in Fort Lauderdale, Elias Sr. moved his family to work at a restaurant in Atlanta in the late ’80s before returning to Richmond in 1990 to open Boychik’s.

Don’t expect too many changes at Boychik’s now that the Elias siblings are in charge.

“The model my father built for Boychik’s is great and doesn’t need a lot of changes or adjustments,” Johnny said. “We may do some advertising and offer more catering services, but we’re not looking to expand. What we have is doing just fine.

“We’ve had customers that have been with us for 10 to 15 years. About 80 to 90 percent of the people that come in on Sundays are regulars.”

Johnny, 25, who left his full-time job with local insurance giant Markel this week, will manage Boychik’s with his brother Scott.

“I spent a lot of time with him being the youngest,” Johnny said of his father. “I learned a lot about him, and he taught me a lot about myself. He was a good father, and coming back to work here full-time is something we talked about long before his passing.”

Along with his legacy of customer service and hard work, Elias Jr. said what they will mostly miss about their father is his sense of humor, and willingness to sacrifice it all for his family.

“He was a selfless and caring father, who was never afraid to tell it like it is,” said Joanie. “All the way to the end, it was his love of family and love for working that kept him going everyday…and it’s keeping us going, too.”   

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Ashley Ball OliveRobert (Peewee) LowryBlair DufourCheryl DulogPaul Hawkins Recent comment authors
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Joey Burnett
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Joey Burnett

This headline comes off as a bit harsh.

Bruce Milam
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Bruce Milam

Best corned beef sandwich in Richmond , hands down!

John O'Connor
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John O'Connor

Rest In Peace! A great family! Thanks!

Bert Hapablap
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Bert Hapablap

Sounds like he was a great man, especially to his family. RIP

Sarah Coleman
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Sarah Coleman

What a nice article about such a nice family! He was so proud of his children.

Tim Lane
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Tim Lane

Always greeted you at the door and or came around to your table to say “Hello” Great place. RIP Sir.

Tresa Mayhew
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Tresa Mayhew

Scotty & Family– our thoughts- Prayers-and Love are with all of you. Your Dads smile will remain with us every time we think of him & every time we order. His love of family & for his customers was so clear & evident!! What a beautiful, strong and happy spirit. He will never be forgotten.
Love & Blessings to all of you 💕💕
Tresa Mayhew & Tonya Geil

Mark Creery
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My condolences to the family. Scott build a lovely business..a jewel of our community Thank you.

terry bagley
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terry bagley

His nightclub was called “Poor Boys”, not “Four Boys”. I played there and at some of his other places . Great guy.

Paul Hawkins
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Paul Hawkins

What a great family man! He ran a wonderful business. I have eaten at Boychiks countless times over the years and never came close to having a bad experience. I usually go in during breakfast time, and everything they make is done the right way, and the service is always top notch. Mr. Elias was always there and greeted you with a smile every time. He will be missed by so many. My condolences to the family, and as long as Boychik’s is open I will continue to be a loyal customer.

Cheryl Dulog
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Cheryl Dulog

I personally know how many church communities and their followers looked to go to Boychick’s Deli after their worship services on Saturdays and Sundays mornings. Those people came from their own spiritual centers to another spiritual center and saw a guy–just a human guy–living out corporal and spiritual works of mercy and grace every day. Food is love for man. Nourishing food served with love is not only better; it’s sufficient. How fabulous is that? How delightful in our times that we get to see LOVE served in action. LOVE served in service to others. Even when they didn’t know… Read more »

Blair Dufour
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Blair Dufour

Scott and Family- the whole Dufour family is beyond sad to hear of the loss. He, and the whole family, have always been so good to us. You’re more than a restaurant to our family, and I hope you all know that: I remember when big Scott had his tumor and I drew him about a hundred pictures hoping they would help him to feel better. I always loved coming to see all of you, you made it feel like a home instead of a deli. I can’t believe he is gone and he will always be missed. I know… Read more »

Robert (Peewee) Lowry
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Truly a great friend and he will be missed greatly.He was a true family man and built life around his wife and kids.

Ashley Ball Olive
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Ashley Ball Olive

I was so Sorry to learn of your dad’s passing. It will be sad to come to Boychiks and not see him there but I know we will all feel him.