In any good bar, there's the great storyteller, the great beauty, the great wit, the great drinker, timeless all. But behind that community, creating that community, there's someone who ensures that the good bar is stocked with spirits to fuel every party, every patron. Sometimes, as in the case of Gene Chandler, this man is in his own way a legend.
Chandler, who died in May, made it possible for those bottles to line up back there, but beyond that, it was his spirit that touched the communities he helped create across Richmond. The good bar, the good restaurant was in his blood. His son Chris Chandler is co-owner of Comfort on West Broad Street; his niece Michelle Williams is co-owner of Europa, deLux, the Hill Cafe and the Hard Shell. We asked Chris to raise a glass for his late father, the man behind the man behind the bar. — Brandon Reynolds
If you've had a drink on or off premise in Virginia in the last 25 years, chances are you have patronized a brand represented by Gene Chandler. A liquor broker since 1985, Gene was the guy who brought your favorite brands to the marketplace, got them listed with Virginia's Alcoholic Beverage Commission, got them placed in ABC stores, and convinced restaurateurs to put them on their back bars. At one time or another, Gene represented just about every major liquor brand — everything from Grey Goose to Tequila Rose. Gene left us in May, but not before he became a fixture in this town. We will remember him for his zest for life, gregarious personality, endearing kindness, sharp wit, entertaining humor and genuine love for his enormous extended family of friends. To know Gene was to love him. He will be missed. — Chris Chandler