‘Amusement portraiture’-coffee shop combo coming to Chesterfield Towne Center

mugshot storefront chesterfield scaled

Mugshot Coffee is planning to open in the Chesterfield Towne Center spot formerly occupied by Jimmy John’s and next to Canastas Chicken. (Jack Jacobs photo)

A new coffee shop coming to Chesterfield Towne Center is hoping customers will want to buy commemorative photos along with cups of joe.

Mugshot Coffee, which will be part cafe and part portrait studio, is planning to open at 11500 Midlothian Turnpike in the former Jimmy John’s space at the mall.

In addition to the usual coffee shop fare, Mugshot is looking to set itself apart and lure business with a portrait-taking station in which customers can dress up in jailhouse props like orange jumpsuits and pose for photos. Mugshot would then sell them items like coffee mugs and pillow cases with the printed images.

“We will take a picture and we will be able to print it on merchandise to tap into the tourism market,” owner Dave Dobbins said. “It gives us a retail aspect and makes a destination beyond the coffee.”

Dobbins likened his premise, which he called  “amusement portraiture,” to businesses in tourist-heavy areas that give customers a chance to dress up in clothing from past eras and get their photos taken as souvenirs. As far as Dobbins knew, Mugshot is the first local attempt to merge portraits with a coffee concept.

There’s also a lack of locally owned coffee shops on Midlothian Turnpike, Dobbins said, and Mugshot is betting it can attract customers by being an alternative to nearby chain cafes.

“When you’re driving down Midlothian Turnpike, which I do every day, there’s nowhere to stop other than a Starbucks,” Dobbins said. “I know there’s a lot of people in Richmond who want to support local businesses.”

mugshot owners

Mugshot Coffee owners Dave Dobbins and Alex Lowe. (Courtesy Mugshot Coffee)

Dobbins is opening Mugshot with Alex Lowe, and they’re both amateur photographers who have backgrounds in the restaurant industry. The couple met while working in a local coffee shop, and started to talk about their shared interest in starting their own business earlier this year.

“Working together we became more than just coworkers,” Dobbins said. “We both wanted to open our own restaurant or cafe or something.”

Mugshot is aiming to open in early August in a 1,600-square-foot storefront near Old Navy and next to Canastas Chicken.

The coffee shop plans to serve coffee roasted by Carytown Coffee, and Dobbins said they’re working on the creation of a Mugshot-branded blend.

Mugshot plans to serve breakfast, lunch and potentially dinner. The food menu is expected to feature things like wraps, salads, hash browns and more.

The cafe plans to have indoor seating for 40 people.

Mugshot recently launched a Kickstarter campaign with a goal of raising nearly $12,000 to buy some of the equipment for the business. Dobbins said the fundraiser will supplement a bank loan that’s financing most of the shop’s startup costs.

The campaign, which runs through the end of May, had raised about $370 toward its goal as of Tuesday afternoon.

Chesterfield Towne Center is anchored by Macy’s and JCPenney. Other restaurant tenants include ML Steakhouse as well as The Twisted Crab, among others. Clothing store Rue21 is planning to exit the mall.

Mugshot is among the latest local cafe with a business plan that isn’t dedicated solely to coffee sales. Abi’s Books & Brews and By Any Beans Necessary are bookstore-cafe combos that are working on opening in the city.

POSTED IN Restaurants

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George MacGuffin
George MacGuffin
1 day ago

At Chesterfield Town Center? Most customers won’t need to borrow the jailhouse props.

David Adler
David Adler
1 day ago

Now there is a combination I have not heard of before! Good luck to you 🙂

John Lindner
John Lindner
23 seconds ago

It is an interesting idea. I’d love to see a location in a more tourist-centric area, like near the convention center and downtown hotels.