A prime downtown restaurant property left vacant on Broad Street last month by celebrity chef Mike Isabella won’t sit idle for long.RVA Hospitality, the group that owns nearby Tarrant’s Café and Max’s on Broad, along with Tarrant’s West and Little Saint, has signed a 10-year lease to take over the former Graffiato space at 123 W. Broad St.Elizabeth Kincaid, chief operating officer and co-owner of RVA Hospitality, confirmed the lease, but would not disclose many details about their future plans for the space.CEO and co-owner Frances Santarella said the group is looking forward to establishing a new concept in the 6,200-square-foot space, which includes two private dining areas that can seat 40 and 60 people, respectively.
“This is a great opportunity for us,” Santarella said. “We’re encouraged by what’s happening in the Arts District and we want to be invested in this area for years to come.”Graffiato was about four years into a 10-year lease on the space when it shut down last month for what was initially billed as a temporary closure.Isabella announced in a “Washingtonian Magazine” article last month plans to shutter the Richmond location. That came weeks after settling a widely sexual harassment lawsuit.Isabella, a former “Top Chef” contender, opened his second Graffiato concept in the Richmond space in 2014. It was previously home to Popkin Tavern.Isabella has not returned multiple phone calls and emails in recent weeks, including a call for comment Thursday afternoon.The Graffiato space is a block west from Tarrant’s Café, the original restaurant in RVA Hosptality’s portfolio, which was launched 12 years ago by the late Ted Santarella.Since Ted’s passing, Frances, along with Kincaid, have been overseeing the day-to-day operations of the business, including the group’s valet service, RVA Valet.Under their leadership, the group opened its fourth restaurant concept, Little Saint, in the Devil’s Triangle area about a year ago.