Millie’s, Lulu’s owner branches out with coffee shop

Clang Coffee will open in coming months at 29 N. 17th St. (J. Elias O'Neal)

Café Clang will open in coming months at 29 N. 17th St. (J. Elias O’Neal)

The restaurateur behind one of the area’s most popular weekend brunch spots is looking to add to his collection of eateries in Shockoe Bottom.

Paul Keevil, owner of Millie’s Diner, plans to open Café Clang in coming months at 29 N. 17th St., in between his other two restaurants, Lulu’s and Tio Pablo Taqueria.

“Clang is somewhat of an extension of LuLu’s,” Keevil said. “The goal was to find a way to make all of our customers comfortable, because we get so busy on the weekends and we want to have another option for them to stay and dine.”

Despite being next door to LuLu’s, Keevil said Clang will operate as a separate business with its own menu, a full bar and multiple coffee offerings that include, pour overs, espressos and other drinks.

As part of the 17th Street Farmers Market renovation into a pedestrian-friendly venue, Keevil said Clang is set to have about 15 feet of outdoor seating.

“We’re still ironing out details related to the menu,” Keevil said. “We know there are going to be hot and cold menu items available, and a full bar to make all types of cocktails,” including Bloody Marys and mimosas.

Café Clang is a reference to the sounds echoing from the nearby Main Street train station. He would not disclose how much he is investing in the new venture, which is leasing the space.

Richmond-based Atlantic Crest LLC has been selected as the general contractor for the project, while Walter Parks Architects are the architects. Keevil hired Archingen’s PermitZIP for the project’s mechanical, electrical and plumbing drawings.

Keevil’s wife Linda Lauby is designing Clang’s 1,500-square-foot space. Her work appears in LuLu’s and Tio Pablo.

Clang will open seven days a week, although Keevil said they are still working out the hours of operation.

To make Clang more of a destination and neighborhood hub, Keevil said he is looking to introduce a monthly readings and poetry sessions – and possibly a disc jockey spinning vinyl.

“I really want it to have a bohemian feel,” Keevil said. “We’re designing it to be a custom coffee shop … it will not have the feel of a chain coffee shop.”

Given the level of activity in Shockoe Bottom, Keevil said now was the time to move forward with Clang.

“We’re down the street from the Main Street Train Station, and there is a large level of residential development happening nearby,” Keevil said. “We felt like this is a concept we needed here.”

Leasing and investment activity in the Bottom has had recent upswing in Shockoe Bottom.

Eric “E.J,” Lewter Jr., 28, with the help of his parents Eric and Brenda Montague Lewter, plan to transform the former Vision Ultra Lounge at 1718 E. Main St. into Montalew’s – a cigar bar and restaurant.

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.

And Bottom Burger is putting the finishing touches on its space at 1719 E. Main St.

That’s in addition to the neighborhood’s steady stream of apartment developments over the years, the most recent being an eight-story, 76-unit new-construction building from developers Louis Salomonsky and David White at the corner of E. Main and 18th streets.

“The pace of development occurring in this neighborhood is exciting,” Keevil said. “We feel Clang is going to be a good addition.”

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