Tarrant’s ownership group snatches up Graffiato space on Broad

The former Graffiato space sits vacant awaiting a new tenant. (J. Elias O’Neal)

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.

Tarrant’s downtown is a block east from Graffiato.

“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.

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Colleen Smith
Colleen Smith

I am excited to see what they do with this space. I love all of the RVA Hospitality venues. Happy to see the space did not sit vacant for long.

bruce Milam
bruce Milam

It’s beautiful space but events haven’t been kind to that location. the slow pace of the construction of Pulse devastated a lot of local businesses. I found the small plate strategy to be harmful too. it seems to be a “girls night out spot” rather than a date night spot.

Ed Christina

The “small plate” garbage is a nightmare and very lazy management. “We can’t be bothered to bring your dishes out in courses, so we will pretend that a random stream of dishes is classy” bleagh.
Seems the owners were more interested in the activities that got some of them sued, should have spent less time with that and more on the service. the dishes were overpriced and not great. good riddance to some apparently very creepy people.