New pizzeria opening downtown; Pizza Hut planned near VCU

brick fire grace2 Cropped scaled

The restaurant space at Grace and Sixth streets came available last fall. (Mike Platania photo)

Two new pizzerias – one from a local operator and one from a national chain – are heading downtown. 

Brick Fire, a new concept from Charred owner Walied Sanie, is preparing to open in the former Maya space at 525 E. Grace St.

Located catty-corner to the Dominion Energy Center, the space came available last fall after Maya, an upscale Mexican restaurant, closed after seven years.

Sanie describes Brick Fire as an Italian-inspired restaurant with pizza, pasta and more on its menu. 

In 2013, Sanie broke into the local restaurant scene when he and James Baldwin bought Avalon in the Fan and rebranded it to Social 52. A year later the duo branched into the counties with Charred, a tavern that’s now open in Hanover and Midlothian

walied morgan sanie

Walied and Morgan Sanie

Sanie said earlier this spring he and Baldwin decided to part ways, with Baldwin taking full ownership of Social 52 and the Chesterfield Charred location, while Sanie now owns the Hanover Charred location with his wife, Morgan.

Brick Fire will be owned by the Sanies and local chef Sam Schleicher. Sanie said he’d been on the lookout for a turn-key restaurant space and jumped at the chance to take over Maya’s old 3,900-square-foot space.

He said they’re preparing a roughly $300,000 renovation of the space, a project that’ll include installing a new wood-fired oven to be used mainly for Brick Fire’s pizzas. 

“It’s a very unforgiving piece of equipment,” Sanie said of the oven. “You get a different product every time so it allows you to play around with it a little more. We wanted to lean into that.…It’ll be in the main dining area and visible from any angle in the restaurant.”

Also on Brick Fire’s menu will be a few seasonal entrees and small plates, as well as pasta dishes made with house-made pasta. Sanie said another big part of the business will be its bar and cocktail offerings, and that soft-serve ice cream is also planned to be on the menu. 

Sanie and Schleicher finalized a lease for the space in recent weeks in a deal brokered by Sperity Real Estate Ventures’ Nathan Hughes. 

Brick Fire is aiming to open in August for lunch and dinner. It’ll join a few other new restaurants along East Grace including The Foundation, which Lindsey Food Group recently opened in the former Sandman Comedy Club and Casino Bar at 401 E. Grace St., and Session, a cocktail bar next to Rappahannock at 318 E. Grace St. 

pizza hut lombardy Cropped

Pizza Hut is planning to open near VCU.

Another pizza spot of a rather different style is heading to the VCU area. 

Pizza Hut is preparing to open at 771 N. Lombardy St. next to Four Brothers Bistro. 

The planned opening is a change of course for the pizza chain, which has spent the last few years shrinking its presence in the region, previously closing locations in South Richmond, Westhampton and the Fan

Pizza Hut currently has about 20 locations throughout the region, nearly all of which are in the counties. Its only presence in the city now is an “Express” location in VCU’s Shafer Court dining hall. 

Its plans for the New River Shopping Center on North Lombardy were confirmed by Will Allen of Harper Associates, which owns the building. It’s unclear when Pizza Hut aims to open. 

brick fire grace2 Cropped scaled

The restaurant space at Grace and Sixth streets came available last fall. (Mike Platania photo)

Two new pizzerias – one from a local operator and one from a national chain – are heading downtown. 

Brick Fire, a new concept from Charred owner Walied Sanie, is preparing to open in the former Maya space at 525 E. Grace St.

Located catty-corner to the Dominion Energy Center, the space came available last fall after Maya, an upscale Mexican restaurant, closed after seven years.

Sanie describes Brick Fire as an Italian-inspired restaurant with pizza, pasta and more on its menu. 

In 2013, Sanie broke into the local restaurant scene when he and James Baldwin bought Avalon in the Fan and rebranded it to Social 52. A year later the duo branched into the counties with Charred, a tavern that’s now open in Hanover and Midlothian

walied morgan sanie

Walied and Morgan Sanie

Sanie said earlier this spring he and Baldwin decided to part ways, with Baldwin taking full ownership of Social 52 and the Chesterfield Charred location, while Sanie now owns the Hanover Charred location with his wife, Morgan.

Brick Fire will be owned by the Sanies and local chef Sam Schleicher. Sanie said he’d been on the lookout for a turn-key restaurant space and jumped at the chance to take over Maya’s old 3,900-square-foot space.

He said they’re preparing a roughly $300,000 renovation of the space, a project that’ll include installing a new wood-fired oven to be used mainly for Brick Fire’s pizzas. 

“It’s a very unforgiving piece of equipment,” Sanie said of the oven. “You get a different product every time so it allows you to play around with it a little more. We wanted to lean into that.…It’ll be in the main dining area and visible from any angle in the restaurant.”

Also on Brick Fire’s menu will be a few seasonal entrees and small plates, as well as pasta dishes made with house-made pasta. Sanie said another big part of the business will be its bar and cocktail offerings, and that soft-serve ice cream is also planned to be on the menu. 

Sanie and Schleicher finalized a lease for the space in recent weeks in a deal brokered by Sperity Real Estate Ventures’ Nathan Hughes. 

Brick Fire is aiming to open in August for lunch and dinner. It’ll join a few other new restaurants along East Grace including The Foundation, which Lindsey Food Group recently opened in the former Sandman Comedy Club and Casino Bar at 401 E. Grace St., and Session, a cocktail bar next to Rappahannock at 318 E. Grace St. 

pizza hut lombardy Cropped

Pizza Hut is planning to open near VCU.

Another pizza spot of a rather different style is heading to the VCU area. 

Pizza Hut is preparing to open at 771 N. Lombardy St. next to Four Brothers Bistro. 

The planned opening is a change of course for the pizza chain, which has spent the last few years shrinking its presence in the region, previously closing locations in South Richmond, Westhampton and the Fan

Pizza Hut currently has about 20 locations throughout the region, nearly all of which are in the counties. Its only presence in the city now is an “Express” location in VCU’s Shafer Court dining hall. 

Its plans for the New River Shopping Center on North Lombardy were confirmed by Will Allen of Harper Associates, which owns the building. It’s unclear when Pizza Hut aims to open. 

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Justin Reynolds
Justin Reynolds
2 months ago

I hope this attempt at a pizza restaurant in the Berry Burke building works out because it’s a great space. Best of luck to the Charred owners!

David Adler
David Adler
2 months ago

New Pizza place near my office? Hope it works out great!

Wes Morgan
Wes Morgan
2 months ago

That location seems to be a revolving door for some reason. I hope it sticks around for a while.

Lee Clark
Lee Clark
2 months ago
Reply to  Wes Morgan

Grace Stree has some of the most beautiful commercial architecture in my opinion. The block of bldgs next to Secret Sandwich Society is begging for renovation! Can you imagine a downtown restaurant row?

Michael Boyer
Michael Boyer
2 months ago
Reply to  Lee Clark

It’s a shame that block will never be the retail destination it once was.

John Lindner
John Lindner
2 months ago
Reply to  Wes Morgan

My theory is that the restaurants there all aimed for too high a price point. Sure, if you’re headed to the Dominion Energy Center for a show you might be up for a splurge, but the restaurants were dead the rest of the time because they were too “special occasion” to develop a regular following. Contrast that with Penny Lane or Buttermilk and Honey who are always jamming.

Shawn Harper
Shawn Harper
2 months ago
Reply to  John Lindner

Really good point John. I never thought about that.

Yeah, I guess if one is in the fancy old part of say Charleston, SC or Newport, RI or something for a weekend, maybe a birthday weekend, one might be more willing to splurge as you say, but no one thinks of downtown Richmond as a fancy destination yet.