Don’t Look Back looks to close Southside taco shop next month

Don’t Look Back South is slated to close by the end of October, and its space at 7524 Forest Hill Ave. is listed for sale. (BizSense file)

As they trim their location count and workload, the owners of Don’t Look Back are looking for a buyer for their Southside Richmond storefront.

The current home of the local taco shop chain’s Don’t Look Back South at 7524 Forest Hill Ave. as well as an adjacent property at 7522 Forest Hill Ave. were recently listed for sale for a combined $1.5 million.

The listing comes as Don’t Look Back South is scheduled to shutter by Oct. 30, Hamooda Shami, managing partner and a co-owner, said Monday.

The Forest Hill location opened in its 1,900-square-foot space in 2018. An affiliate of the restaurant acquired the 2,600-square-foot space next door in 2020 with plans for a complementary retail space.

Shami said after a challenging year and a long time in the industry, he and co-owner Nate Gutierrez decided to pare down their workloads through the shuttering of Don’t Look Back South, as well as refocusing their responsibilities within the company.

Shami said he and Gutierrez want to spend more time with their families.

“It’s one thing to run a couple restaurants and with COVID I suddenly had to add all this other stuff,” Shami said, referring to new responsibilities that he’s taken on in response to the pandemic, such as implementing public health measures and seeking government relief funding.

“The COVID thing was very difficult and we’ve been doing this a long time. The idea of reducing the scope of what we can reasonably handle while having some semblance of a life balance (made sense).”

An LLC tied to Don’t Look Back bought 7522 Forest Hill Ave. in 2020. (Courtesy of Thalhimer)

The Forest Hill restaurant has 15 employees. About half of them are expected to transfer to Don’t Look Back Triple in Scott’s Addition, which will continue to operate, Shami said.

Daniel Koen, a former general manager at Don’t Look Back Triple, has been tapped to be Don’t Look Back Triple’s new business manager, and will assume most of Shami’s current day-to-day duties on Oct. 1.

Shami will continue to serve as Don’t Look Back’s managing partner. He also plans to launch a new business venture called Paper Tiger, which will be a collectible comics and cards online seller.

With a location taken off the plate, the plan is for Gutierrez, who handles the food side of business, to work on expanding the catering arm of Don’t Look Back, Shami said.

While the plan is to close down Don’t Look Back South as it currently exists, Shami didn’t rule out the concept living on or being resurrected in some fashion.

“The property is being listed. That doesn’t mean Don’t Look Back South is going away completely,” he said. “It just means we are shutting down that day in its current iteration. We’re keeping our options open. It really just depends on what buyer comes in and what parts they want to retain.”

The Southside properties are near the Shops at Stratford Hills shopping center and the Chippenham Parkway and Forest Hill Avenue interchange.

Thalhimer’s Danielle Beckstoffer and Annie O’Connor are handling the sale.

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Brian Ezzelle
Brian Ezzelle
10 days ago

They can’t recreate the vibe of their original Carytown location

Michelle Reynolds
Michelle Reynolds
9 days ago

Hate to kick someone while they are down. And understand covid was a nightmare for the industry. But I have my doubts about Shami as a restaurateur. Seems like he’s always on edge for the next thing and blowing capital building out spaces that don’t last long. And not too long ago he was touting expanding this DLB South into the neighboring space. I hope the money hes blown has been his own and not from investors

Kay Christensen
Kay Christensen
8 days ago

It seems nothing grows roots in this location…any thoughts?

Jackson Joyner
Jackson Joyner
8 days ago

The location was underwhelming. Pretty basic TexMex in a boring atmosphere. You could sum up the decor as tan room with Hugh TV screens. I was hoping the expansion would bring more creativity and innovation. The location is great and could be amazing with the right Tennant.

kay christensen
kay christensen
8 days ago
Reply to  Jackson Joyner

Thanks. It doesn’t look particularly inviting from the outside-especially for a restaurant. I’ve never been to this location but often wondered how they could survive with so few cars in the parking lot at any given time.

Denis Etonach
Denis Etonach
6 days ago

So sorry to hear this, but I understand wanting to pare back. I love this location — it’s one of the few interesting eateries in this stretch of Forest Hill and the Bon Air area (world’s best nachos). Was looking forward to seeing what they were going to do with the purchase of the site next door.