The West End needed a coffee shop. And Gibbs Moody wanted to start a new company.
This former investment banker left San Francisco 12 years ago to move to Richmond and raise his family with wife Sharon. For the past few years, he's been looking for a company to buy, but as he passed the empty storefront at the Tuckahoe Shopping Center on Ridge Road, he began to think about what could go into it.
“When I was looking at other companies, I always found flaws,” he says.
Moody originally thought about putting an ice cream store in the space, but the idea didn’t excite him. One thing he did like, however, was a good cup of coffee. Moody had been a long-time customer of Lamplighter Roasting Co., and after a few conversations with co-owner Noelle Archibald, the idea of starting his own coffee shop began to take hold of his imagination.
And Shore Dog Cafe was born. “We wanted to bring our love of the Eastern Shore here,” Sharon, who is also co-owner of Fraîche, says about the name. The folks at Lamplighter designed the coffee bar and trained its baristas. The Moodys brought in milk from Homestead Creamery, Mountain View Farm cheese and New York’s Davidovich Bakery’s bagels for its breakfast and lunch menus.
“It’s not a traditional dark coffee bar,” says Moody. “We wanted a beachy sort of look.” Weathered wooden benches line the wall, and the space is filled with soft shades of grey and white mixed with a few stainless, industrial elements such as Tolix metal chairs around the tables and at the bar.
When it first opened, the kitchen at Shore Dog closed at 2:30 p.m. “Customers complained,” Moody says. The couple decided to extend the hours and add a few entrees, such as flatbread pizza and chicken satays, along with wine, beer, and tapas, to eat in or takeout.
“It’s still an evolving concept,” Moody says. “We’re too [much] of a well-kept secret.”