Lynchburg’s Texas Inn strikes deal to take over Museum District restaurant building

izzys kitchen texas inn Cropped

Izzy’s Kitchen has been open in the Devil’s Triangle since 2019. (Mike Platania photo)

An old-timey diner from Lynchburg is touching down in the Devil’s Triangle.

The Texas Inn, owned by Richmond advertising executive Dave Saunders, is set to take over the Izzy’s Kitchen building at 2901 Park Ave. 

Izzy’s opened in the building in 2019 as a spinoff of former Fan sandwich spot Uptown Market & Deli. Behind Izzy’s was Uptown co-owner Joe Carter, who named the new restaurant for his daughter. 

Four years later, Carter has struck a deal to sell his Izzy’s equipment to Saunders, who’s planning to convert the building into Texas Inn’s first Richmond outpost.

Izzy’s is expected to close in early March and Texas Inn will take over the 1,300-square-foot space in the Devil’s Triangle area of the Museum District. 

Saunders said he’s waiting to sign a lease for the space and is aiming to open the Richmond Texas Inn sometime in May. Sperity Real Estate Ventures’ Nathan Hughes brokered the deal between Izzy’s and Texas Inn.

Known colloquially as the T-Room in its hometown of Lynchburg, the Texas Inn has been serving classic diner fare since 1927. Its signature item is the Cheesy Western, which is a smashed cheeseburger topped with the Texas Inn’s relish and diced onions.

Saunders, a Lynchburg native whose day job is running downtown Richmond ad firm Madison+Main, bought the restaurant 2018. He said his leap into the restaurant business was inspired by childhood memories of going to the diner with his family. 

texas inn david saunders Cropped 1

David Saunders at the counter at Texas Inn.

The Richmond location will add to two Texas Inns in Lynchburg and one in Harrisonburg, the latter of which Saunders opened in 2022. 

As he looked to expand into Richmond, Saunders earlier this month launched a successful crowdfunding campaign to help bring the Texas Inn to the city, though he hadn’t yet disclosed the exact location. The campaign quickly raised $120,000 from 90 investors on the Honeycomb crowdfunding site. Saunders previously told BizSense that the crowdfunding campaign is for about half of the $250,000 needed to open in Richmond. 

Saunders said he’s planning to paint the building’s exterior white with red and blue accents to match the other Texas Inns and to improve the existing parking lot’s lighting. Sure Hand Signs will be painting its signage. The most significant change to the building’s interior will be the addition of an 18-seat lunch counter.

Other restaurants that have previously operated out of the Art Deco-style Park Avenue building include Little Saint and Deco Ristorante. 

Despite the closing of the Izzy’s restaurant, it won’t be the end of the Izzy’s brand. Carter said he’s planning to get into bottling the most popular soups and sauces from the restaurant and sell them wholesale.

Carter said customers would often ask whether sauces like Izzy’s cilantro lime ranch or garlic pesto aioli were available for sale.

That demand, combined with rising costs of running the restaurant and an expiring lease, led Carter to pursue the deal with Saunders and jump into the wholesale business.

“People were always asking if we bottle anything, and because I’m there pretty much everyday working in the kitchen, I never really had time to do that stuff,” Carter said. “We’ve been blessed to have a lot of good people come and see us, but…I just wanted time to take the avenue for wholesaling.”

The bottling business will likely operate as Izzy’s Provisions and Carter said he’s looking to start by distributing within the Richmond area. The plan is to start with sauces and then move on to soups like Izzy’s chicken tortilla, roasted garlic and tomato and potato leek soups.

Carter said it’s bittersweet to be leaving the restaurant side of the food business.

“I feel like the neighborhood really did accept and like us, but it’s a lot of work when you’re doing it how I’m doing it,” he said. “I hate to see that part of it go, but also at the same time I’m excited about doing all this bottling and getting things going from that perspective.”

Saunders, meanwhile, is hoping Richmond’s Texas Inn can draw the same type of clientele the other locations do, where “it’s the neighborhood spot, regardless of what neighborhood you come from.”

“The trash collector could be sitting next to the city attorney, who could be sitting next to the punk rock rave kid, and they’re all sitting there, all equal,” Saunders said. “And if you come there enough, you’re going to get a nickname.”

izzys kitchen texas inn Cropped

Izzy’s Kitchen has been open in the Devil’s Triangle since 2019. (Mike Platania photo)

An old-timey diner from Lynchburg is touching down in the Devil’s Triangle.

The Texas Inn, owned by Richmond advertising executive Dave Saunders, is set to take over the Izzy’s Kitchen building at 2901 Park Ave. 

Izzy’s opened in the building in 2019 as a spinoff of former Fan sandwich spot Uptown Market & Deli. Behind Izzy’s was Uptown co-owner Joe Carter, who named the new restaurant for his daughter. 

Four years later, Carter has struck a deal to sell his Izzy’s equipment to Saunders, who’s planning to convert the building into Texas Inn’s first Richmond outpost.

Izzy’s is expected to close in early March and Texas Inn will take over the 1,300-square-foot space in the Devil’s Triangle area of the Museum District. 

Saunders said he’s waiting to sign a lease for the space and is aiming to open the Richmond Texas Inn sometime in May. Sperity Real Estate Ventures’ Nathan Hughes brokered the deal between Izzy’s and Texas Inn.

Known colloquially as the T-Room in its hometown of Lynchburg, the Texas Inn has been serving classic diner fare since 1927. Its signature item is the Cheesy Western, which is a smashed cheeseburger topped with the Texas Inn’s relish and diced onions.

Saunders, a Lynchburg native whose day job is running downtown Richmond ad firm Madison+Main, bought the restaurant 2018. He said his leap into the restaurant business was inspired by childhood memories of going to the diner with his family. 

texas inn david saunders Cropped 1

David Saunders at the counter at Texas Inn.

The Richmond location will add to two Texas Inns in Lynchburg and one in Harrisonburg, the latter of which Saunders opened in 2022. 

As he looked to expand into Richmond, Saunders earlier this month launched a successful crowdfunding campaign to help bring the Texas Inn to the city, though he hadn’t yet disclosed the exact location. The campaign quickly raised $120,000 from 90 investors on the Honeycomb crowdfunding site. Saunders previously told BizSense that the crowdfunding campaign is for about half of the $250,000 needed to open in Richmond. 

Saunders said he’s planning to paint the building’s exterior white with red and blue accents to match the other Texas Inns and to improve the existing parking lot’s lighting. Sure Hand Signs will be painting its signage. The most significant change to the building’s interior will be the addition of an 18-seat lunch counter.

Other restaurants that have previously operated out of the Art Deco-style Park Avenue building include Little Saint and Deco Ristorante. 

Despite the closing of the Izzy’s restaurant, it won’t be the end of the Izzy’s brand. Carter said he’s planning to get into bottling the most popular soups and sauces from the restaurant and sell them wholesale.

Carter said customers would often ask whether sauces like Izzy’s cilantro lime ranch or garlic pesto aioli were available for sale.

That demand, combined with rising costs of running the restaurant and an expiring lease, led Carter to pursue the deal with Saunders and jump into the wholesale business.

“People were always asking if we bottle anything, and because I’m there pretty much everyday working in the kitchen, I never really had time to do that stuff,” Carter said. “We’ve been blessed to have a lot of good people come and see us, but…I just wanted time to take the avenue for wholesaling.”

The bottling business will likely operate as Izzy’s Provisions and Carter said he’s looking to start by distributing within the Richmond area. The plan is to start with sauces and then move on to soups like Izzy’s chicken tortilla, roasted garlic and tomato and potato leek soups.

Carter said it’s bittersweet to be leaving the restaurant side of the food business.

“I feel like the neighborhood really did accept and like us, but it’s a lot of work when you’re doing it how I’m doing it,” he said. “I hate to see that part of it go, but also at the same time I’m excited about doing all this bottling and getting things going from that perspective.”

Saunders, meanwhile, is hoping Richmond’s Texas Inn can draw the same type of clientele the other locations do, where “it’s the neighborhood spot, regardless of what neighborhood you come from.”

“The trash collector could be sitting next to the city attorney, who could be sitting next to the punk rock rave kid, and they’re all sitting there, all equal,” Saunders said. “And if you come there enough, you’re going to get a nickname.”

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Al Bosdell
Al Bosdell
1 month ago

Can’t wait…..gimme a bowl with.

Wes Morgan
Wes Morgan
1 month ago

It’s a good location and will be nice to see it nestled in a neighborhood. I can’t wait!

Ed Christina
Ed Christina
1 month ago

Best of luck, seems like a good fit for that spot.

Peter James
Peter James
1 month ago

Outstanding!! Wishing Mr. Saunders the very best for tremendous success. Thrilled to see him opening in Devil’s Triangle – lots of hungry patrons will soon enjoy iconic Cheesy Westerns, Texas Inn chili… relish… hot dogs. Yum!! Let Richmond’s newest tradition begin!

Last edited 1 month ago by Peter James
Charles Frankenhoff
Charles Frankenhoff
1 month ago

I hope it’s good food. The issue with that spot is there has been a lot of mediocre food…

Nick Feakins
Nick Feakins
1 month ago

I really enjoyed Izzy’s Kitchen and sorry to see it go. Best of luck to those who follow.

EDGAR O. KINNIER, JR.
EDGAR O. KINNIER, JR.
1 month ago

Gross error. You missed the egg. A Western has hamburger,egg,relish, onion. A cheese western has cheese added to the Western.
Both excellent.
I bet you will be able to buy a mug (butter milk) deep enough to swim a horse_ very small of course,

Brett Hunnicutt
Brett Hunnicutt
1 month ago

Very cool. Happy to see this right next to my office!
I think this is a better fit for this space. It needs to be the kind of place with high turnover and plenty of to-go orders. It’s not big enough to be sustainable as a place to linger. That’s been proven three different times.