Spanish to South Side

It's hard to miss Emilio Peiro in his red chef's coat and lively personality. He adores music and dancing, he's an expert soccer coach, and when he cooks paella, well, he knows how to draw a crowd.

The architects at Bond Comet Westmoreland have become steady customers since moving into their new building across Broad Street from Emilio's Restaurante Espa¤ol. And late-nighters who crowd in for the live music scene know to expect fresh takes on tapas along with the jazz, jams and beer.

The former Richie's got an overhaul last summer, and now Peiro and partners Chad Stambaugh and Yvonne Zienkiewicz are expanding their horizons, moving into Woodlake to bring something other than franchise food to the growing Chesterfield County corridor.

Opening by early June, Emilio's at Woodlake will show off the Mediterranean colors and tile work of Peiro's native Spain. Customers can sit at the bar and watch chefs cook in the open kitchen.

"The West End is crowded and expensive [to operate a restaurant]," Peiro says, "and the South Side is all chains. We have a lot of customers who live in that area, and people are giving me good feedback about opening something new."

He'll serve lunch and dinner daily and bring in live jazz on weekends. The new restaurant will be at 7016 Woodlake Commons Loop. 639-8099.

Mexican Revenge

Developer Ed Eck isn't talking with us about the abrupt closing of El Rio Grande Mexican Restaurant near Virginia Commonwealth University. Just after a redecoration in the 1324 W. Cary St. building, the doors were shuttered and fixtures cleared out, to the surprise of regulars and the disappointment of neighboring business owners. The restaurant's last day was just a few days after Cinco de Mayo. No word on what will take its place. But the elaborate wall mural remains, for now.

Bank Open

New to downtown, and open only a week, is Bank, an American cuisine restaurant in a restored bank building at 1005 E. Main St. near 10th Street. Executive chef Matt Turner, recently of Trick Dog Café in Irvington, is preparing steak, seafood and pastas at moderate price, belying the interior's soaring spaces and historic architectural details.

Floor manager Cameron Sasnett says people are wowed when they walk in. "Richmond will be blown away by the hottest place in town," he says. "We're planning a lot of big things and will have live music and more." A nightclub to be named Vault will open downstairs later this year. Bank is serving lunch and dinner daily. 648-3070.

Powhatan Mexican

A new family-owned restaurant is open in Powhatan. El Cerro Azul Mexican Restaurant serves traditional favorites; its menu specialties include camarones al mojo de ajo, or shrimp grilled in a chipotle and garlic salsa. Open for lunch and dinner daily, the nonsmoking restaurant is located at 2650 Anderson Highway. 598-8400.

Finally Fan

After a year's worth of anticipation and delays, George Tarasovic's Table 9 is open at the corner of Park and Meadow. The tiny bistro is serving low-key fare, even hot dogs, on a short sandwich, soup and salad menu, with a small bar near the back that's already attracting regulars. Open for lunch and dinner Monday through Saturday.

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