A local cheesecake baker has a different kind of venture in the oven at Stony Point Fashion Park.
Verseau Bistro is planned to open in early December at Stony Point. Behind the concept is Say Cheese…Cake owner Cheryl Wittman, who is planning to offer a range of cheesecakes, coffee, wine, beer and charcuterie at the bistro.
The new restaurant will occupy a 1,300-square-foot space across from the Vineyard Vines and near P.F. Chang’s at the mall.
Wittman said the upcoming bistro is an expansion of Say Cheese…Cake, which is relocating from a commercial kitchen space at the Stony Point outpost of Edible Education in favor of more room at Verseau. It’s Wittman’s first attempt at a restaurant concept.
“Some of it was space considerations. The business has just expanded since I opened,” Wittman said in reference to Say Cheese…Cake. She launched that business in 2020 doing online and wholesale cheesecake sales. It will continue to operate in addition to Verseau.
About $65,000 has been invested in the bistro’s buildout, furniture and some new equipment, Wittman said. The space is expected to have seating for 20 people.
The bistro’s name is the French word for Aquarius, which is Wittman’s astrological sign and was deemed a suitably exotic name for what Wittman described as a European-style bistro concept.
Though Wittman looked around the area for a potential space for Verseau, she decided to stay put at the South Richmond mall because she liked the lease terms (she signed a 12-month lease for her new space) and she wanted to be there for whatever plans the mall’s new owner might have in store.
“They’re really hellbent on wanting to do something with this mall. The terms they give the small businesses are very attractive,” she said. “Just listening to mall management and how they seem excited about the new investment firm taking over, how great would it be if the mall turned around and I’m on the ground floor of it?”
Florida-based Second Horizon Capital bought the mall for $15 million earlier this year. The company has yet to announce its plans for the mall.
Wittman brought on Katelin Myers to be the general manager of Verseau. They crossed paths at Edible Education’s Midlothian location, where Myers previously worked and Wittman first opened Say Cheese…Cake before moving to the Stony Point location.
Wittman said Say Cheese…Cake’s business is about evenly split between wholesale and online sales and the two sides of the business complement each other. She currently has about 10 wholesale clients, which include Eggspectation, Latitude Seafood Co., O’Toole’s Restaurant & Pub and Tazza Kitchen.
“People went to these restaurants and got a slice of cheesecake and fell in love with it. Next thing I know, I’m getting a call,” Wittman said of her company’s growth.