Start-ups are nothing new to chefs Ian Kelley and Casey Ward. They ran a restaurant together (Old City Bar), launched a line of microbrews (Kelvin Brewing Co.) years before the current beer craze, and this week they're opening Sugar Shack Donuts, the first in a planned series of shops.
The rustic wood-detailed business at 1001 N. Lombardy St. is across from Maggie L. Walker Governor's School, where Kelley coaches girls' soccer. Students there are getting a specialty doughnut, a 2-foot-long braided tiger tail "that two or three people could eat together," Kelley says.
Sugar Shack's business plan has been coming together for a couple of years, and almost got a Carytown location until Dixie Donuts landed there. Now, in the Carver neighborhood space, it will offer a couple dozen flavors, some gluten-free options, house-roasted coffee, Boylan sodas and eventually specialty cheesecakes and other items.
Recent taste trials of Guinness bagels and vegan soy chai doughnuts reminded the chefs — who have fine-dining backgrounds from here to Colorado — that they love experimenting with flavors and want to offer Richmond something different. "We're just trying to have a little fun with it," Kelley says, "and offer unique, off-the-wall things." Their motto — handmade, hand-cut, hand-dipped — indicates the level of daily involvement, starting with a 3:30 a.m. baking time. A late-night take-out window and patio seating are planned.
Ward, who studied chemistry, says they're "food nerds who thrive on pressure situations. It's been a long time coming, but I think Richmond is ready for this — we've been hearing a lot of clamoring." Sugar Shack is open weekdays from 6 a.m., weekends from 8 a.m. 278-5900.
Green Leaf Vegetarian Restaurant: Family-run business with healthy focus. Spring rolls, pot stickers, pho, salads, meatless entrees with Asian flavors. Lunch Tuesday-Sunday, dinner Tuesday-Saturday. 8900 W. Broad St. 527-2268. greenleafva.com.
Rye guy: TJ's Restaurant in the Jefferson Hotel presents a charity beer dinner May 17 to benefit the Whole Planet Foundation. Guest host Greg Self from Whole Foods and TJ's chef Patrick Ehemann will pair seasonal cuisine with five rye beers. The meal starts with a dirty martini salad, includes quail and venison, and costs $55 per person. Reservations are required, 649-4672.
Fan brunch: Metro Grill is now serving Saturday brunch with a hearty menu of egg dishes, shrimp and grits, biscuits and gravy. 301 N. Robinson St. 353-4453. metrogrillrichmond.com.