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RVA Food News: Handcrafted Tap Handles, Lebanese Food Fest + More

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Unexpected Sideline

He'll never have to buy beer again. Now that Ed Bath has traded furniture-making for the more rustic but profitable beer-tap-handle making, he has plenty of bartered brew. It's a perk for his timely entry into the craft beer movement, and his work is on display at bars across town.

Bath is a former accountant who finds fallen trees around Richmond — oak, cedar, gum, maple, cypress, beech, sycamore — then mills the wood and dries it in solar kilns he built for his Henrico County shop, Citiwood. He cuts the wood into tap handles for Hardywood Park Craft Brewery and a Texas brew, Lone Pint, which add laser-engraved logos and ship them to be installed in bars.

"The tap side of the business is growing," Bath says. "I'm starting to focus just on that. Beer is a big thing. I'm proud to be recovering the trees. Taking a tree to a sawmill is like fishing — this could be something great, a discovery. A lot of times you get something really beautiful."

This spring Bath is working on orders of 250 tap handles for Hardywood, with another 200 for Lone Pint. And he's had to shake off his training in smooth perfection, he says: "It's amusing to me that these craft breweries want the look to be rustic, and here I've spent a lot of time learning how to make things perfect." But he isn't complaining, and the industry's growth "has worked out great."

Gibson's returns: After a few weeks off, Gibson's Grill at the National has reopened downtown at 700 E. Broad St.

Patina change: Mike Ledesma is new executive chef at Patina, replacing Kyle Cox. Ledesma has worked at Hard Shell Bellgrade and at Max's on Broad, several high-profile Baltimore restaurants, and trained at the Greenbrier after graduating from the University of Hawaii's hospitality program. New spring menus are in place at the restaurant, 3416 Lauderdale Drive. 360-8500. patinarva.com.

Lebanese returns: Save the dates, May 16-18, for the 30th Lebanese Food Festival at St. Anthony's Maronite Catholic Church in Glen Allen. A new feature will be on-site cooking for special dishes while guests watch. Traditional foods, pastries and beverages will be augmented by live music, costumed Lebanese dancers and other activities. Frozen takeout food and a cookbook, "Timeless Lebanese Recipes," also will be available. Friday and Saturday 10 a.m.-10 p.m., Sunday 10 a.m.-8 p.m. 4611 Sadler Road. 270-7234. stanthonymaronitechurch.org.

Now serving: Boka Tako Bar has been open awhile at 304 N. Robinson St., and after a few kitchen changes and trial runs, its hours, phone and menu are coming together, says owner Patrick Harris. The business is now open daily with weekend brunch. Late-night weekend taco hours will be determined by customer demand. The menu has vegetarian and meat tacos and empanadas such as the four pig and seasonal variations, craft beverages, a modest dine-in area, takeout and upcoming delivery service. 937-8256. Bokatruck.com.

Wegmans coming: You ask, you get. Last year Style Weekly readers in our Best of Richmond poll named Wegmans the grocery store they'd most like to lure to RVA. The Rochester, N.Y.-based market took heed, and will build two stores here in Short Pump and Midlothian.

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