It's a familiar dream to almost all who work in food service — to have their own place, to build on what they've learned elsewhere, to avoid the pitfalls. They hope to create businesses where they won't mind spending 60 to 80 to 100 hours a week, preferably at a nice profit.
Jami Bohdan is about to realize the first part of her long-range dream, opening an upscale draft house called the Savory Grain at 2043 W. Broad St. She's hired chef Sean Murphy to run the kitchen, craft a chalkboard menu that will change twice a month, and bring his following to the venture, which is expected to open this week.
Murphy's cooking experience began with chef Robert Ramsey at the former Foxhead Inn and led to well-received stints at the Hill Cafe, Cabo's, Metro Grill, and most recently F.W. Sullivan's and Lady N'awlins. "Fish and game are something I'd like to be known for," Murphy says, "and I do my own butchering. We'll subtly incorporate beer into sauces and marinades, and do duck, a nice steak, fresh breads and gourmet-level American comfort food."
The 83-seat restaurant, the former Empress, has an entirely new look with a long heart-pine bar and wood flooring, a chef's table in the back and carefully chosen lighting and furnishings in two dining rooms with bay-front windows. Bohdan has been a waitress, hostess, bartender and manager, and so naturally expects the restaurant will become a "place where people will want to stay, that's warm and inviting and homey." At the 12-seat bar, wines, microbrews and 24 draft beers "you don't see everywhere" will pair with sharable appetizers.
Dinner will be served nightly except Mondays. 592-4000.
West end addition: Wild Greens & Pig, a fast-casual cafe opening in late February at 9033 Quioccasin Road, is offering take-out food starting this week. Chef Alfredo Macias created the menu of heritage pork barbecue, sandwiches, soups and sides; organic coffee, tea and fresh desserts are also available. Owner Lisa Granger, formerly of Zed Cafe, also operates Wild Greens Catering and Bakery and is known for her interest in natural, organic foods and sustainable practices. Follow the cafe's progress at facebook.com/wildgreenspig. 750-1350.
More incoming: Yes, that's George Washington with a mustache on the logo announcing Jorge's Cantina. The new restaurant is coming to the former Fanhouse at Floyd Avenue and Robinson Street, as Mexico Restaurant's José Garcia joins forces with the team behind F.W. Sullivan's and other properties, Jake Crocker and Hayden Fisher. Look for a selection of traditional Mexican entrees, tequilas and a new décor when the business opens in February.
Taste of Acacia: The first in a series of mini wine dinners comes to this Fan District star Jan. 30. The three-course menu promises European flavors and is $35 per person, plus tax and tip, with seatings from 5:30 p.m. to 9 p.m. Limited reservations are being taken at 562-0138.
Chili time: Star-lite has a football promotion timed for the Super Bowl, selling chili and corn bread to go in 2- and 4-pound sizes, serving 8 to 16 people, at $20 and $40. Customers can pick up orders on Feb. 2 or game day, Feb. 3. Email Shannon@starlitediningandlounge.com.
Dutch & Co.: Intimate retro dining room in Church Hill serves meaty entrees, cocktails and more from chefs Caleb Shriver and Philip Perrow. Dinner Monday through Saturday, 5 p.m. to 10 p.m. at 400 N. 27th St. 643-8824.
Casa del Barco: Tequilas and wide range of Mexican fare in renovated factory beside the Canal Walk. Dinner and bar nightly from 5 p.m. Lunch Mon. - Sat., brunch Sunday. 320 S. 12th St. 775-2628. Casadelbarco.com.
Boo's Brown Bag: American menu of deli sandwiches, burgers, vegan options and breakfast, lunch and late-night for take-out and delivery. 1201 W. Main St. 358-2667. Boosbrownbag.com.
Urban Farmhouse: Second location of natural foods coffeehouse with sandwiches, salads, soups. Breakfast, lunch and dinner daily. 13872 Coalfield Commons Place, Midlothian. 378-3366. Theurbanfarmhouse.net.
Saison: Cozy Jackson Ward gastro-pub with craft beer, seasonal menu, service expertise. Nightly except Mondays. 23 W. Marshall St. 269-3689. Saisonrva.com.
Rappahannock: Fresh oysters, raw bar, appetizers to seasonal entrees, full bar from owners of Rappahannock River Oysters. Lunch Tuesday through Friday, dinner and bar nightly, Sunday brunch from 10:30 a.m. 320 E. Grace St. 545-0565. Rroysters.com.