Bookbinder’s owners cook up mac and cheese spinoff on Arthur Ashe Blvd.

Mac and cheese restaurant opening in Richmond

Jayme and John Taxin are giving their pop-up mac and cheese concept a permanent home on Arthur Ashe Boulevard. (Mike Platania/Courtesy of BigWife’s)

The family behind Bookbinder’s Seafood & Steakhouse are going in a whole new direction for their second concept, one that will combine an inside joke with savory dishes on Arthur Ashe Boulevard.

John and Jayme Taxin are preparing to open BigWife’s Mac n’ Cheese at 1017 N. Arthur Ashe Blvd in Scott’s Addition. The 1,200-square-foot space was previously home to Growlers To Go before the beer shop closed last fall.

While Bookbinder’s has offered upscale fare like escargot and filet mignon steaks on white table cloths in Shockoe Bottom since the early 2000s, John Taxin said BigWife’s will be nearly the exact opposite feel, offering a menu of mainly macaroni and cheese dishes and a few salads, all priced between $8 and $12.

BigWife’s began last summer as a pop-up when Taxin was trying to keep Bookbinder’s afloat during the early days of the pandemic, while also pondering a lifelong dream of his: having a restaurant that serves only one dish.

“We did takeout here, but how many lobsters can you sell for takeout?” Taxin said. “It’s so difficult to do what we do (at Bookbinder’s). There’s so much work and you have to buy so much product. My dream was to do something super-duper simple. I’d talked to my chef about that for years.”

That one dish he’d serve was the one Jayme, his wife, craved most while pregnant years ago. Jayme’s affinity for mac and cheese led to an affectionate nickname for her among their family.

“(Jayme) was the happiest pregnant lady you ever met in your life and she had a reputation in our family as a big eater. Everybody else would be dieting and she’d be chowing down when she was pregnant,” Taxin said, laughing.

“When we’d go to the doctor as she’d get larger and larger, she’d get on the scale and have this big giant smile on her face. Since my children were born, she has been nicknamed — and we don’t call her it all the time — she’s known through the family as the BigWife.”

The restaurant’s menu includes Greek and Bolognese variations on mac and cheese, among others.

The name was met with some apprehension from some at the restaurant, but Jayme was amused by the idea and signed off on it. “She didn’t bat an eye,” Taxin said. “She was part of the decision.”

“I said, ‘Well the best-worst thing that could happen is I’ll have to go on Good Morning America and explain why I’m using that name,” Taxin said.

As a pop-up run out of Bookbinder’s, BigWife’s fared well until Bookbinder’s was able to open with outdoor dining and a limited number of indoor tables. Business at the steakhouse picked up and Taxin didn’t have time to keep running BigWife’s regularly.

Through the winter they decided to only pop-up BigWife’s on weeknights when Bookbinder’s was less busy, selling around 50 dishes of mac and cheese each night. A sandwich board outside Bookbinder’s advertised BigWife’s, and Taxin said he’d sometimes walk up to Church Hill handing out fliers about it, but they otherwise did no marketing for BigWife’s.

Then one random Tuesday night, Taxin said, one of BigWife’s social media posts got picked up by a food blog and CBS6 aired a story on it. They quickly got more orders than they could handle.

“The chef was in the kitchen, shouting like “Shut it down!” because we could only make so many,” Taxin said, laughing. “The entire bar was filled with bags full of mac and cheese.”

The popularity prompted Taxin to consider a permanent home for BigWife’s, which led him to the old Growlers To Go building on Arthur Ashe Boulevard. He recently finalized a lease for the space, with Divaris’ Read Goode representing him in negotiations.

BigWife’s will be an exclusively to-go and delivery concept with no seating.

The pop-up started at Taxin’s longtime Shockoe Bottom restaurant Bookbinder’s.

Its menu will include variations on mac and cheese like bacon and gruyere, hot chicken and gorgonzola, and broccoli and shiitake mushrooms. Taxin said he’s committed to limiting the number of items on the menu and their price tags.

“The nice thing about it is it’s not expensive. People asked, ‘Oh, are you going to have lobster mac and cheese?’ And I tell them no,” Taxin said.

He said he’d also like to structure the business in a way that he could serve BigWife’s at events like Flying Squirrels games, where they’d pull up with pre-made dishes and miniature ovens to heat and serve them. Beyond that, Taxin said, he also aspires to have multiple BigWife’s locations.

“I think we have the opportunity for something big,” he said.

He’s aiming to open the concept in summer 2022.

While Bookbinder’s was able to bounce back and BigWife’s found a full-time home, the effects of the pandemic still weigh heavy on Taxin.

He said a manager and chef at Bookbinder’s each had a parent die of COVID before vaccines were available, and that he still worries about the pandemic.

“My dream, and I’m somewhat a dreamer, is to have the people that are with me be a part of the future. My hope is one of these days to bring up the folks that work with me,” Taxin said.

“From the embers of the Philadelphia (Bookbinder’s location in 2002) closing, to our success here now and hopefully our future success with this new concept, I’m hoping for brighter things in the future.”

Mac and cheese restaurant opening in Richmond

Jayme and John Taxin are giving their pop-up mac and cheese concept a permanent home on Arthur Ashe Boulevard. (Mike Platania/Courtesy of BigWife’s)

The family behind Bookbinder’s Seafood & Steakhouse are going in a whole new direction for their second concept, one that will combine an inside joke with savory dishes on Arthur Ashe Boulevard.

John and Jayme Taxin are preparing to open BigWife’s Mac n’ Cheese at 1017 N. Arthur Ashe Blvd in Scott’s Addition. The 1,200-square-foot space was previously home to Growlers To Go before the beer shop closed last fall.

While Bookbinder’s has offered upscale fare like escargot and filet mignon steaks on white table cloths in Shockoe Bottom since the early 2000s, John Taxin said BigWife’s will be nearly the exact opposite feel, offering a menu of mainly macaroni and cheese dishes and a few salads, all priced between $8 and $12.

BigWife’s began last summer as a pop-up when Taxin was trying to keep Bookbinder’s afloat during the early days of the pandemic, while also pondering a lifelong dream of his: having a restaurant that serves only one dish.

“We did takeout here, but how many lobsters can you sell for takeout?” Taxin said. “It’s so difficult to do what we do (at Bookbinder’s). There’s so much work and you have to buy so much product. My dream was to do something super-duper simple. I’d talked to my chef about that for years.”

That one dish he’d serve was the one Jayme, his wife, craved most while pregnant years ago. Jayme’s affinity for mac and cheese led to an affectionate nickname for her among their family.

“(Jayme) was the happiest pregnant lady you ever met in your life and she had a reputation in our family as a big eater. Everybody else would be dieting and she’d be chowing down when she was pregnant,” Taxin said, laughing.

“When we’d go to the doctor as she’d get larger and larger, she’d get on the scale and have this big giant smile on her face. Since my children were born, she has been nicknamed — and we don’t call her it all the time — she’s known through the family as the BigWife.”

The restaurant’s menu includes Greek and Bolognese variations on mac and cheese, among others.

The name was met with some apprehension from some at the restaurant, but Jayme was amused by the idea and signed off on it. “She didn’t bat an eye,” Taxin said. “She was part of the decision.”

“I said, ‘Well the best-worst thing that could happen is I’ll have to go on Good Morning America and explain why I’m using that name,” Taxin said.

As a pop-up run out of Bookbinder’s, BigWife’s fared well until Bookbinder’s was able to open with outdoor dining and a limited number of indoor tables. Business at the steakhouse picked up and Taxin didn’t have time to keep running BigWife’s regularly.

Through the winter they decided to only pop-up BigWife’s on weeknights when Bookbinder’s was less busy, selling around 50 dishes of mac and cheese each night. A sandwich board outside Bookbinder’s advertised BigWife’s, and Taxin said he’d sometimes walk up to Church Hill handing out fliers about it, but they otherwise did no marketing for BigWife’s.

Then one random Tuesday night, Taxin said, one of BigWife’s social media posts got picked up by a food blog and CBS6 aired a story on it. They quickly got more orders than they could handle.

“The chef was in the kitchen, shouting like “Shut it down!” because we could only make so many,” Taxin said, laughing. “The entire bar was filled with bags full of mac and cheese.”

The popularity prompted Taxin to consider a permanent home for BigWife’s, which led him to the old Growlers To Go building on Arthur Ashe Boulevard. He recently finalized a lease for the space, with Divaris’ Read Goode representing him in negotiations.

BigWife’s will be an exclusively to-go and delivery concept with no seating.

The pop-up started at Taxin’s longtime Shockoe Bottom restaurant Bookbinder’s.

Its menu will include variations on mac and cheese like bacon and gruyere, hot chicken and gorgonzola, and broccoli and shiitake mushrooms. Taxin said he’s committed to limiting the number of items on the menu and their price tags.

“The nice thing about it is it’s not expensive. People asked, ‘Oh, are you going to have lobster mac and cheese?’ And I tell them no,” Taxin said.

He said he’d also like to structure the business in a way that he could serve BigWife’s at events like Flying Squirrels games, where they’d pull up with pre-made dishes and miniature ovens to heat and serve them. Beyond that, Taxin said, he also aspires to have multiple BigWife’s locations.

“I think we have the opportunity for something big,” he said.

He’s aiming to open the concept in summer 2022.

While Bookbinder’s was able to bounce back and BigWife’s found a full-time home, the effects of the pandemic still weigh heavy on Taxin.

He said a manager and chef at Bookbinder’s each had a parent die of COVID before vaccines were available, and that he still worries about the pandemic.

“My dream, and I’m somewhat a dreamer, is to have the people that are with me be a part of the future. My hope is one of these days to bring up the folks that work with me,” Taxin said.

“From the embers of the Philadelphia (Bookbinder’s location in 2002) closing, to our success here now and hopefully our future success with this new concept, I’m hoping for brighter things in the future.”

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LARS DANCE
LARS DANCE
1 year ago

Yet another hipster restaurant in an area no one outside of those areas goes to anymore. Fighting traffic, the impossible search for parking, and being assaulted by BLM signs and intersectional moral preening is not an invite for a good meal or motivation to ever go to anything in this area replete with virtue signalers, and absolutely absent of any brown or black faces. Literally ride through Scott’s addition and try to find a black person not working in the kitchen. I’d also like to point out, that although I’m sad for the loss, those individuals who supposedly died of… Read more »

Last edited 1 year ago by LARS DANCE
Bill Ray
Bill Ray
1 year ago
Reply to  LARS DANCE

See what happens when you don’t offer Lobster Mac and Cheese!

Best of Luck BigWife’s! I’ll definitely try it.

John Taxin
John Taxin
1 year ago
Reply to  Bill Ray

Bill Ray – great follow up. Good lord that was a lot to swallow

Eric Clark
Eric Clark
1 year ago
Reply to  LARS DANCE

I love Mac and Cheese! You can choose not to go there. Does everything in life have to have a political slant?

John Taxin
John Taxin
1 year ago
Reply to  Eric Clark

Thank you Eric.

Ed Christina
Ed Christina
1 year ago
Reply to  LARS DANCE

Well, “Lars” ; First off please stay in Chesterfield, clown shoes. Would it be too much to ask you to pick a lane? Is Scott’s Addition a place no one goes or is it a place that is too crowded? Is it held in the thrall of the scary scary BLM or is it an ivory toned cluster of white privilege? In case anyone reading this have never been, Scott’s Addition is a nice place that mainly caters to young adults and isn’t really great for families. River City Roll is the only place I’d take kids personally, Also Brambly… Read more »

JORDAN TUCKER
JORDAN TUCKER
1 year ago
Reply to  Ed Christina

Unfortunately there is more truth in his second paragraph than people
realize or want to admit. But I love mac and cheese as well and hope this venture is a success!

John Taxin
John Taxin
1 year ago
Reply to  JORDAN TUCKER

Thank you Jordan

Boz Boschen
Boz Boschen
1 year ago
Reply to  LARS DANCE

Admin, please remove this disinformation nonsense.

Craig Davis
Craig Davis
1 year ago
Reply to  LARS DANCE

You have to get pretty far up the bowels of the inetrnet to find the figurative crap in that 2nd para. Hope the mac & cheese sells. If mac & cheese is a virtue, my sons will definitely want to signal it.

David Franke
David Franke
1 year ago

Good idea. Please add a KETO friendly option like cauliflower and I’ll be there.

Tim Brown
Tim Brown
1 year ago

Definitely live way out of area (W. NY) but will make a point to look this up if it is still open next time I’m near Richmond.

Lee Gaskins
Lee Gaskins
1 year ago

I think it’s funny that when a new business opens in or near SCOTT’S ADDITION(!), people only comment about how it’s so HIPSTER and won’t succeed and won’t do this or won’t do that. They forget, it’s all of 90 seconds from the Northside where plenty of people live. Who do they think attends Holton Elementary or lives at the Hermitage or in Ginter Park, The Canopy, etc etc. Good luck to y’all!! Welcome to our neck of the woods. Can’t wait to grab some awesome mac & cheese!!

Ed Christina
Ed Christina
1 year ago
Reply to  Lee Gaskins

Technically, is that side of Arthur Ashe Scott’s addition?

Brett Hunnicutt
Brett Hunnicutt
1 year ago
Reply to  Ed Christina

I think technically speaking the Scott’s Addition border was recently pushed all the way to Hardywood, but the historic boundary was previously the Boulevard. This may have been to take advantage of the same zoning ordinances, such as no parking restrictions, or perhaps for tax opportunities or transit zone opportunities or all of the above.

Last edited 1 year ago by Brett Hunnicutt
David Humphrey
David Humphrey
1 year ago
Reply to  Lee Gaskins

Plus it is on a busy avenue that funnels traffic from all over the City and the region. There is plenty of traffic on Artur Ashe to support something that supposedly won’t be supported by the “resident hipsters”.

Brett Hunnicutt
Brett Hunnicutt
1 year ago
Reply to  Lee Gaskins

People from the suburbs would claim Olive Garden was hipster if they built one in the Fan. It just proves how little they understand this town. Nothing about this noodle endeavor seems hipster to me. I’m sure it will attract everyone from the area who enjoys this cuisine.