Armed with plenty of neon lights and teal paint, Carlos and Adrienne Londoño are looking to bring a taste of South Beach to Shockoe Slip.
The married couple and veteran local restaurateurs are preparing to open Papi’s at 1407 E. Cary St.
The Miami-style restaurant and club will be their fourth concept downtown, joining La Bodega, Casa Fiesta Mexican Kitchen & Cantina and Margarita’s Cantina, all of which are also in the Shockoe area. Originally from Colombia, the Londoños came to Richmond about six years ago after owning multiple restaurants in New York City.
Papi’s takes over the roughly 5,900-square-foot space that had been vacant since the early days of the pandemic following the closure of Billy Jack’s Shack. Its vacancy opened the door for the Londoños to open a Miami-style restaurant and club.
Papi’s will help the Londoños achieve a goal they’ve had in mind for a while.
“I wanted to do more of a Miami-esque vibe, if that’s even a word,” Carlos said, adding that it’s modeled after the gay clubs they experienced in New York. “It’s going to be straight up sexy Latino … and welcoming to the LGBT community and everybody else. The door’s open for everybody.”
Papi’s menu will include tapas and Latin-inspired main dishes, combining styles from two of the couple’s other spots.
“It’s like if La Bodega and Casa Fiesta were getting married,” Londoño said.
The restaurant will be open for dinner and late-night, he said, and though it won’t be open for lunch hours, they plan to do Sunday brunch at Papi’s.
Local development firm Dodson Development Partners bought Papi’s building in a $6.8 million portfolio sale in 2019, and the Londoños leased it late last year and began work on it. CBRE’s Brad Lowry represented the Londoños in the deal.
Londoño said they’ve invested around $200,000 into renovating the space, which spans two levels. While the interior is bright and colorful, he said they’re deliberately keeping the exterior nondescript with only a small Papi’s sign and some rainbow lights.
“The hot night clubs in New York used to be down a dark alley. Next to the dumpster there was a big guy standing there with a door and no signage, nothing. And you’d walk in and inside there’d be 50,000 square feet with celebrities and people dancing,” Londoño said. “For our concept, this was the perfect location.”
Papi’s is looking to open in late March or early April.