Island Shrimp Co. opens new location in Rocketts Landing

island2

Kevin Healy, left, and Kyle Healy of Housepitality Family restaurant group outside of the new location of Island Shrimp Co. (photos by Jack Jacobs)

A local restaurant group has increased its James River frontage with the opening of a second location of a tropics-inspired eatery.

Island Shrimp Co. opened over the weekend in the old Conch Republic space at 11 Orleans St. in Rocketts Landing.

It’s the second location of the concept operated by the Housepitalty Family restaurant group owned by Kevin Healy.

The original Island Shrimp Co. is at Chesterfield Towne Center and opened in 2019. Housepitalty Family also operates four Boathouse locations, including one next door in Rocketts Landing, and three Caso Del Barco locations.

With a menu of sandwiches that run about $13 and entrees priced $14 to $24, Healy said Island Shrimp Co. serves as a lower-priced, more casual complement to the neighboring Boathouse.

“We coexisted with Conch Republic very nicely and we’re anticipating an even better relationship,” Healy said. “I think it’s two different types of dining experiences.”

island1

Housepitality Family restaurant group opened its second location of Island Shrimp Co. in the Rocketts Landing space formerly occupied by Conch Republic. 

The Island Shrimp Co. in Rocketts seats 105 people indoors and has an 80-seat patio.

The new restaurant has more than 90 employees. Housepitality Family Director of Strategy Kyle Healy, who is Kevin’s son, said most of them are new hires.

Housepitality took over the Rocketts space in September upon Conch Republic’s closure after about a decade in operation.

Housepitality renovated the interior to open it up further and maximize the use of the restaurant’s riverfront views. The group declined to comment on its investment in the space.

“We kept it clean and bright, took down some of the dividers between the old second row and the third row. So, now every seat in the house is a waterfront view,” Kyle Healy said.

JD Lewis Construction Management did the renovations. Design studio Haus of Leon and Housepitality Family Chief Creative Officer Paige Healy collaborated on the restaurant’s interior design.

island3

A wave-and-surfboard mural has been painted onto the stairs between the newly opened Island Shrimp Co. in Rocketts Landing and the Virginia Capital Trail.

The restaurant’s beach decor is further supplemented by a fresh coat of paint on the staircase that connects the restaurant to the Virginia Capital Trail. The stairs were painted by Ben Slay of art collective OCD to mimic a surfer-eye-view of a wave, and thereby create a photo-worthy scene for diners.

“There’s a surfboard if anybody wants to stop in the middle and hang ten. Every restaurant is supposed to have an Instagram moment,” Kyle Healy said.

The opening of the new Island Shrimp Co. comes about two years after Housepitality Family started to implementpandemic-inspired measures to recruit and retain staff and also maintain dining-room service amid industry-wide hiring challenges.

The group recently kicked off a new iteration of its automated ordering system in which servers play a more active role, a system it calls “blended service.” Diners continue to be able to place their own orders using their smartphones but servers have more recently taken a more engaged approach using handheld tablets to place orders on customers’ behalf.

“The technology is changing and we’re developing our staff’s skills in handling it. The staff seems to like it and I think it solves some problems in the restaurant business and it definitely solves some future problems as the minimum wage continues to rise,” Kevin Healy said. “The guest can now see their check and put in stuff if they want and the server can do the same thing. It wasn’t a shared experience before, it was either one or the other.”

Among the pandemic-inspired changes at Housepitality was a built-in gratuity of 20 percent on checks, something Kevin Healy said the restaurant group intends to keep in place.

“Some people don’t like paying a 20 percent service charge, although our historical data shows that on average that’s what people left,” he said. “We don’t envision ourselves going back to the way it was pre-COVID.”

island2

Kevin Healy, left, and Kyle Healy of Housepitality Family restaurant group outside of the new location of Island Shrimp Co. (photos by Jack Jacobs)

A local restaurant group has increased its James River frontage with the opening of a second location of a tropics-inspired eatery.

Island Shrimp Co. opened over the weekend in the old Conch Republic space at 11 Orleans St. in Rocketts Landing.

It’s the second location of the concept operated by the Housepitalty Family restaurant group owned by Kevin Healy.

The original Island Shrimp Co. is at Chesterfield Towne Center and opened in 2019. Housepitalty Family also operates four Boathouse locations, including one next door in Rocketts Landing, and three Caso Del Barco locations.

With a menu of sandwiches that run about $13 and entrees priced $14 to $24, Healy said Island Shrimp Co. serves as a lower-priced, more casual complement to the neighboring Boathouse.

“We coexisted with Conch Republic very nicely and we’re anticipating an even better relationship,” Healy said. “I think it’s two different types of dining experiences.”

island1

Housepitality Family restaurant group opened its second location of Island Shrimp Co. in the Rocketts Landing space formerly occupied by Conch Republic. 

The Island Shrimp Co. in Rocketts seats 105 people indoors and has an 80-seat patio.

The new restaurant has more than 90 employees. Housepitality Family Director of Strategy Kyle Healy, who is Kevin’s son, said most of them are new hires.

Housepitality took over the Rocketts space in September upon Conch Republic’s closure after about a decade in operation.

Housepitality renovated the interior to open it up further and maximize the use of the restaurant’s riverfront views. The group declined to comment on its investment in the space.

“We kept it clean and bright, took down some of the dividers between the old second row and the third row. So, now every seat in the house is a waterfront view,” Kyle Healy said.

JD Lewis Construction Management did the renovations. Design studio Haus of Leon and Housepitality Family Chief Creative Officer Paige Healy collaborated on the restaurant’s interior design.

island3

A wave-and-surfboard mural has been painted onto the stairs between the newly opened Island Shrimp Co. in Rocketts Landing and the Virginia Capital Trail.

The restaurant’s beach decor is further supplemented by a fresh coat of paint on the staircase that connects the restaurant to the Virginia Capital Trail. The stairs were painted by Ben Slay of art collective OCD to mimic a surfer-eye-view of a wave, and thereby create a photo-worthy scene for diners.

“There’s a surfboard if anybody wants to stop in the middle and hang ten. Every restaurant is supposed to have an Instagram moment,” Kyle Healy said.

The opening of the new Island Shrimp Co. comes about two years after Housepitality Family started to implementpandemic-inspired measures to recruit and retain staff and also maintain dining-room service amid industry-wide hiring challenges.

The group recently kicked off a new iteration of its automated ordering system in which servers play a more active role, a system it calls “blended service.” Diners continue to be able to place their own orders using their smartphones but servers have more recently taken a more engaged approach using handheld tablets to place orders on customers’ behalf.

“The technology is changing and we’re developing our staff’s skills in handling it. The staff seems to like it and I think it solves some problems in the restaurant business and it definitely solves some future problems as the minimum wage continues to rise,” Kevin Healy said. “The guest can now see their check and put in stuff if they want and the server can do the same thing. It wasn’t a shared experience before, it was either one or the other.”

Among the pandemic-inspired changes at Housepitality was a built-in gratuity of 20 percent on checks, something Kevin Healy said the restaurant group intends to keep in place.

“Some people don’t like paying a 20 percent service charge, although our historical data shows that on average that’s what people left,” he said. “We don’t envision ourselves going back to the way it was pre-COVID.”

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Jim Jones
Jim Jones
2 years ago

A gratuity is something given voluntarily, the added 20% is just a way for the customer to pay the salary of their employees…….

Craig Davis
Craig Davis
2 years ago
Reply to  Jim Jones

Its similar to the fees and add on charges when you buy concert tickets – it allows the restaurant to advertise princes that seem reasonable when the true cost of those menu items is 20% higher.

Roger Turner
Roger Turner
2 years ago
Reply to  Jim Jones

I agree to a point, but it’s not really voluntary if the servers only make a fraction of the wage needed to justify the job. Sure it’s voluntary to the customer but somebody has to pay them. Not sure what the “base wage” is now but just a few years ago it was under $5 an hour plus tips for a lot of servers. The reality is that most of the people I know typically tip the same or near the same for all of their interactions. Meaning some people always tip 20%+, some always right at 15% and some… Read more »

Justin Reynolds
Justin Reynolds
2 years ago

I’ve never understood tipping at a fast casual restaurant where I place the order myself and a runner brings it to the table. However I also like less interaction with servers and I routinely tip 20-25%. I’ll be interested to hear how the blended approach works because a lot of people I know haven’t liked the ordering system at The Boathouse since they changed it for Covid.

John Signs
John Signs
2 years ago

I actually like the system…let’s me interact as needed with the servers…

Debbie Reading
Debbie Reading
2 years ago

On top of a $5 charge to sit outside on the deck at the Boathouse at Brandermill along with the automatic 20% gratuity??? Not anymore. Done with the Boathouse and all the other entities
“Housepitality” owns! They need to change their name to “Non-Hospitality!”

Ross Deed
Ross Deed
2 years ago

The ordering system takes a whole lot of fun out of the meal experience. Especially with a group it makes ordering overly complicated unless you want the food to come out at random times for members of your group. I’ve stopped going to the boathouse because of it.

Tricia Dunlap
Tricia Dunlap
2 years ago
Reply to  Ross Deed

Completely agree. I enjoy interacting with servers and having them actually SERVE which includes managing the timing and pace of a meal. Plus, servers have insights as to how the kitchen is managing its work flow and they can time things accordingly. Good timing is a key aspect of a quality dining experience and I don’t like shouldering that responsibility. Maybe this system will be acceptable at a casual place such as Island Shrimp Co. but definitely not at the Boathouse or Casa Del Barco which aspire to be fine dining. Since the Boathouse/ CDB adopted this system, I’ve been… Read more »

Bill Kelly
Bill Kelly
2 years ago
Reply to  Ross Deed

I have spent my last dollar at any of their restaurants with that ordering system. Took my 82 year old mother to dinner at the Boathouse. Requested a paper menu for her to look at, and they wouldn’t give her one. She and her buddies used to love going to the Short Pump location, but now they can’t …and won’t.

Matt Merica
Matt Merica
2 years ago

Ha! 20% automatically added to a bill to sit across the river from the poop plant for the city of RVA – brilliant

Jackson Joyner
Jackson Joyner
2 years ago

I have been to the Rocket’s Landing Boathouse several times and the service was VERY mediocre. I have also tried Island Shrimp at Chesterfield location several times and thought it was basic and OK. Knowing that they will impose an automatic 20%, is enough for me to avoid this new location. Luckily, we have plenty of good options in our city.

karl hott
karl hott
2 years ago

Not a fan of the app order/food runner system. This may be acceptable at fast casual places like Panera but feels cheap at fine dining restaurants. I no longer patronize Houspitality establishments. I would happily return if they switched back to a traditional service model. People don’t just dine out to eat; they also want an experience with an element of entertainment.

Matt Faris
Matt Faris
2 years ago

I’ve liked Kevin’s work since I worked for him in 1983. Best manager at that time at Sundays (before he bought it and created the Boathouse). I consider him a friend. He emphasized great service. I sadly had a bad experience trying unsuccessfully to order from the QR code at the seafood lace at the mall. No luck. No one could help us. And when I’m asked to pay 20% tip, I tell them sure, if they don’t mind a smaller tip. (The looks I get are great!). Heck, the only reason to eat out is the service! We can… Read more »

Josh Alley
Josh Alley
2 years ago

Some people don’t like paying a 20 percent service charge, although our historical data shows that on average that’s what people left,” he said. “We don’t envision ourselves going back to the way it was pre-COVID.
I will never set foot in one of your places.