Like clockwork every spring, restaurant owners flutter about, preparing to reveal their new offspring to an audience of food-lovers and first-nighters who love to check out the city's newest scenes.
Here's a weekly rundown to watch, with more to follow in the coming weeks:
In a burst of optimism, Toad's Place on the Canal Walk is revealing its plans for Highwater, a waterside restaurant with a hoped-for opening of May or June -- though the project has been behind schedule for months, and these things tend to take time to complete, even under the best of circumstances.
But crews are in full-speed mode at the Lady Byrd Hat Building, as Highwater is a focal point not only for the building, but also the entire canal.
John Adamson is the restaurant's general manager. He's also co-owner of The Mellow Mushroom in Charlottesville, and plans to serve a moderate and diverse menu featuring local, organic produce and a blend of cuisines.
The best part, besides an interesting new location, is that diners can go directly to concert performances at the adjacent Toad's Place, purchasing tickets at their table and bypassing the lines by going into the club from the restaurant.
This is one highly anticipated venue, and there's no shortage of interest among city planners, tourism types and the music community, let alone all those hearty souls looking for a new place to dine.
She's a familiar face to party planners, but Juanita Fulghum has spent most of her 20-year catering career relatively behind the scenes, whipping up signature desserts such as the martini cheesecake and other haute comfort foods for dinners and events.
Now she's opening a luncheon spot called Juanita's on Lafayette, serving Tuesdays through Fridays and opening the 50-seat space for private dinner parties and small events.
"I felt like it was waiting for me," she says of her first visit to the former Café Lafayette at 1007 Lafayette St. "I walked through the neighborhood and realized I was falling in love." She bought the space, overhauled the kitchen and storage areas, and plunged into the new business while continuing work with her catering firm, Richmond Arrangements.
Look for an opening this month, with luncheon dishes such as jambalaya, curried turkey salad and sandwich platters. Juanita's brother, Richard Fulghum, also cooks spaghetti, albacore tuna and hot specials, which will change with the seasons.
Chef Jason Alley's success with Comfort downtown has spawned a second location in Portsmouth, opening as soon as contractors finish the job later this spring. Troy Dewes, who was the downtown restaurant's first sous-chef, returns from Los Angeles to become chef de cuisine at the Portsmouth Comfort. Sergio Gomez will handle those duties in Richmond.
And Sticky Rice takes its trendy scenario north with a planned opening for a Sticky sister in Washington, D.C.'s Adams Morgan district later this spring. S