Not one to let the disaster that was 2020 put the kibosh on her dream of opening a kosher bakery in Richmond, Claudia Strobing is now Carytown-bound.
In the fall of 2019, Strobing, a Long Island, N.Y. native, signed a lease at 800 W. Marshall St. in Carver, where she was planning to open Claudia’s Bake Shop. Then the pandemic hit.
“We were getting ready to build, we had permits in Carver,” she said. “Then everything shut down.”
Last spring, as VCU put its in-person classes on indefinite hold, so did Strobing with her plans for the bakery.
“My business model was based almost entirely on VCU students,” she said. “They were going to be the ones coming in every day, stopping in before class or on the way back from class.”
As the pandemic dragged on, Strobing said she eventually decided to terminate the Carver lease and begin thinking of other options.
She took a pit stop at Hatch Kitchen, an ever-expanding shared commissary kitchen and incubator on the Southside, where she sold her babka, challah and rugelach online.
“It’s hard to do (online) on your first go,” Strobing said. “I was trying to sell the whole menu online. It made it incredibly challenging for us and not as cost-effective as it could’ve been.”
Once there were signs that the pandemic was beginning to relent, Strobing said she began looking for new permanent brick-and-mortar spaces. In Carytown, she found 3027 W. Cary St., the former home of restaurant The Melt and clothing shop Hooked.
Strobing leased the 2,200-square-foot space and hopes to open there sometime this summer. Taylor Long Properties’ Rebecca von Meister represented Claudia’s in the deal. Titan Construction Group is handling the design and build-out of the space.
Strobing, who has over 30 years of professional baking experience, said the concept for her shop hasn’t changed despite the pivot to Carytown.
“It’ll be a kosher dairy bakery, New York-style,” she said. “It’s got space for seating and to do wholesale. Carver was not going to have a lot of room for wholesale, so this works out better in terms of a long-term place for us.”
Strobing said 2020 gave her pause about the whole endeavor, but she’s excited to be in Carytown.
“This has been my dream for a long time. I’m very excited that we’re going to get moving. It’s going to be a fun spot,” she said. “It’s a beautiful space. And, of course, it’s Carytown. There’s no better place to be in Richmond than Carytown.”
Another Hatch Kitchen alumnus is also working on a permanent home in Carytown. Food truck Zorch Pizza is preparing to open a brick-and-mortar pizzeria a block down at 2923 W. Cary St.