Cocktail-focused restaurant concept slips into Shockoe


Minbar will open at 14 N. 18th St. in Shockoe Bottom. (Kieran McQuilkin)

Another vacant Shockoe Bottom restaurant and bar space is getting revived.

First-time bar and restaurant owner Ashley Ramsey is preparing to open Minibar Richmond at 14 N. 18th St., a 3,000-square-foot storefront that in recent years was home to Maximo’s Spanish & Italian Bistro and Shockoe Steakhouse.

Ramsey said Minibar will serve lunch and dinner and hopes to stand out with its cocktails. Micah Crump, a private chef and owner of 2020 Experience, will be the restaurant’s executive chef.

“We want it to be a different experience than what a typical bar offers down there,” Ramsey said. “We’re working with a mixologist on a craft cocktail menu, where we’re going to incorporate things like candy into the drinks.”

Ramsey said she hopes to open by mid-July.

A programs trainer for the federal government and other local businesses, Ramsey said a training session for a restaurant group convinced her to move forward with plans for Minibar.

“I was going through the training and realized this was something I could do,” she said. “Now, I’m doing it.”

Ramsey signed a lease for the space in April. LaMar Dixon, a broker with Richmond based Bandazian & Co., worked the deal.

Ramsey said the name Minibar was crafted to reflect an aspect of its food offerings, paired the idea of fun drinks and overall nightlife.

“This is going to be a full-service restaurant,” Ramsey said. “We’re just looking to build up our menu with cocktail items from a fully stocked bar; we also plan to have craft beers from area breweries and wine.”

Ramsey plans to hire 18 to 25 people to staff the location, with the first round of recruiting set for early June.

Despite Shockoe Bottom’s reputation partly as a club district, Ramsey said she opted for a restaurant and bar concept given the area’s changing demographics.

“The clubs are still there, but the area seems to be maturing,” she said. “There are more restaurants coming in, more apartments, more offices; it seemed like now was the time to move forward with this business.”

Minibar Richmond will have some company around the corner.

Montalew’s is moving into the two-story, 7,000-square-foot space once occupied by Vision Ultra Lounge at 1718 E. Main St. The owners hope to open the restaurant and bar this summer.

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