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Mural for Manny

If there's a graphic way to track the alliances of local restaurant owners, it's through the ever-wider panorama painted by Ed Trask at various "in the family" places around town, such as Sidewalk Café and Kitchen 64. That includes places that have closed, such as Stella's and Hole in the Wall. And now Kuba Kuba will be fully inked inside and out with Trask's blue musings, completed just before another world tour drumming for Avail, the artist's other job.

Scoop Blog

Church Hill's neighborhood blog proves that all news is local, and that long before most media organizations know about something, the people do.

To illustrate: the coming of It Must Be Heaven to 25th and Broad streets. Online speculation about the business got feverish for a few weeks last month as neighbors wondered aloud whether Captain Buzzy's Beanery would be hurt, or whether the neighborhood could support another food business, if that's even what it was. Rumors flew ahead of business permits.

Now they know. Three retired women are opening an old-fashioned ice cream parlor in a historic lodge-hall storefront within eyeshot of Buzzy's, but with a different style and intent. They'll serve old-style Southern delicacies like rice pudding and corn pudding, as well as Chicago hot dogs, soups and other desserts. Uniform-wearing servers will dish up Gelati Celesti flavors.

We'll have the full story next month when the business opens. For now, "it's a God-ordained event in our lives," partner Stan Jones says, "and it's an opportunity to change the lives of other people."

Roll Your Own

Todd Manley of Pescados gave gown-wearing ladies and their gents reason to play with their food Nov. 4. The strategy -- to stop, drop and roll with his wild-caught shrimp — won him a people's choice award at the March of Dimes Signature Chefs Auction.

Manley and colleagues Shane Logan and Greg Smiley got guests to pluck a chilled shrimp from a platter, dip it in their "insane Grand Marnier sauce with oranges and cascabel chilis" and then roll it in a coconut-graham cracker crumble before noshing.

It was awesome indeed, along with savory creations from The Berkeley, Bottega Bistro, Positive Vibe Café, Michelle's at Hanover Tavern, Sin é, India K'Raja, Homemades by Suzanne, Sticky Rice, Janice's Kitchen and Shula's 2.

Catering by Jill won the Richmond signature dish contest with its Lamb Orion, seared loin of lamb encrusted in pesto, pistachio and feta and served over sautéed spinach with pepper puree.

Thompson Takeover

The Blue Fox Café, where High's sandwich shop held forth for decades, closed last week. Natural foods neighbor Ellwood Thompson's has acquired the space across the parking lot and will use its kitchen for the store's expanded prepared-foods section and potentially a new restaurant. .

The timing coincides with the arrival of chef Jannequin Bennett, formerly of TJ's at The Jefferson Hotel, who will mastermind the vegetarian-rich offerings and other fare. The grocery is repositioning after the loss of longtime general manager Wade Carmichael to Ukrop's, reportedly to fend off the Whole Foods competition and the expansion of Fresh Market in an increasingly competitive grocery environment.

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