Cafe chain makes first mark on Richmond metro

Corner Bakery Cafe replaced a defunct gas station in Innsbrook. (J. Elias O’Neal)

A new-to-town restaurant chain is ready to take on the competitive Innsbrook market.

Corner Bakery Café will open its first metro Richmond location Monday at 11000 W. Broad St.

The restaurant replaces a defunct Citgo gas station that inhabited the parcel for more than three years.

“It’s an opportunity to put something back on the tax rolls and provide something new and different for the area,” said Shahid Ali, CEO of Central Va. Café Inc., which will own and operate the establishment. “It’s taken us a while, but we’re ready to showcase a new option for people in that area.”

The restaurant held a soft opening Saturday for invited guests.

Based in Dallas, Corner Bakery offers pastries, bread, breakfast dishes, sandwiches, soup, salads and pasta. It has a seasonal menu with several breakfast, lunch and dinner items that include buttermilk pancakes, chicken pomodori paninis and its signature pesto cavatappi pasta.

The brand has nearly 200 locations nationwide, including four in the state – all in Northern Virginia.

Corner Bakery will be Ali’s second franchise brand in the region. He owns two Popeyes Louisiana Kitchen locations: at 8044 W. Broad St. in Henrico and 2709 Chamberlayne Ave. in Richmond.

At 4,450 square feet, the Innsbrook Corner Bakery seats 126 people inside and about 16 on its patio, Ali said. The restaurant also features a conference room with a television that can be reserved.

“The reservation for the space is free as along as the people who reserve the room order their food through the restaurant,” Ali said. “Given the number of offices in the area, we thought the conference room would make for a great addition to the space.”

The location also plans to offer catering to businesses throughout the metro.

Corner Bakery has hired about 55 people to staff the location, and has plans to make additional hires leading up to its official opening.

Since securing the property nearly two years ago, Ali has invested about $1.4 million to establish Corner Bakery.

Ashland-based M.L. Bell Construction was the project’s general contractor and Richmond-based Parker Design Group completed the civil engineering work. Florida-based Interplan Architects and Engineers designed the space.

With his first Corner Bakery completed, Ali said he is looking for another outpost in the metro or elsewhere.

“We’re looking all over,” he said. “Ideally, the next location would be Midlothian, but we’re also looking in Charlottesville, Fredericksburg and the Stafford County area.”

Corner Bakery adds to the growing collection of restaurants in the Innsbrook area.

Cheezilla’s Grilled Cheese opened its first brick-and-mortar location in the Lexington Commons shopping center at 10170 W. Broad St. Across Dominion Boulevard in the Dominion Shoppes retail center, Starbucks, Blaze Pizza and Noodles & Co. also have opened.

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Steven Cohen/BCLS Landscape Services

Congratulations, we appreciate the opportunity to have worked on the project with ML Bell. Best of luck, Steven Cohen, CEO BCLS Landscape Services