Rare is the restaurant worker who doesn't fantasize about opening a business and being the boss, and longtime local cook and bartender Cole Bucholtz (Sticky Rice, Starlite, Europa, The Border) is as primed as possible for his chance to help run the show at a new restaurant coming to the Boulevard.
He and the owners of River City Tattoo, Jessika and Rob Weaver, are opening Strong Hill Dining Company in a building that once held Motor Europa. The three are renovating it from the ground up, bringing in all new kitchen equipment, a bar, booths and tables. Plus, they're planning to install a rooftop patio and a small private dining room for parties.
"We're going to have a twist on comfort food," Bucholtz says "we want to take you back to the lost art of the dining experience." No fast-food mentality here, but rather a relaxed, meat-and-potatoes kind of place that will fill a pretty desperate need in the neighborhood.
The Strong Hill name comes from the area's past, before it was called Scott's Addition.
Bucholtz and the Weavers have watched condo-mania steadily turn the industrial wasteland into a potentially hot new market but other than Buz and Ned's, a strip club and the friendly diner-style Moore Street Café, there's not a lot of sit-down or late-night service. There's certainly nothing new within walking distance to attract those condo residents, until Strong Hill opens at 1200 N. Boulevard by summer.
Fuller LeVesque will be chef, and Bucholtz will run the house as general manager.
To say that these guys are motivated is an understatement. They're on the wave of a Boulevard renaissance if plans for a new ball park, multiplex cinema and other properties come to fruition evidence, Bucholtz says, of Jessika Weaver's shrewd real-estate savvy in seeing where Richmond is growing next.
Brazilian chef Carlos Silva is breathing new life into downtown's Twenty-seven, the beautiful, but until lately underperforming, restaurant that's a sister establishment to longtime Italian favorites Amici and La Grotta. What Silva is doing with chorizo and seafood is earning unsolicited raves from diners, and his new preparations and revamped menu are deserving of a second look.
We've been deluged at Style lately with tales from angry readers about their disappointment in various dining experiences around town. They've complained about rude service, terrible food, even an occasional fight or other unpleasant scenarios that make them unwilling to part with their dollars for a meal out.
While Richmond's food scene has improved dramatically in the past decade, these indicators of growing pains might be worth noting, since the high failure rate of food businesses is directly linked to customer service. Watch this space for more on this issue, and send your thoughts to firstname.lastname@example.org.