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Side Dish

Church Hill hold up, flighty new coffeehouse and "Wife Swap" search.


THE REALIST: Ask John Sanchez, a Church Hill-based contractor/entrepreneur, how long it takes to open a restaurant in Richmond, and he'll wave off all hope of a fast start-up. He and a crew are barreling through a building renovation and the multiple hurdles of launching a new grill, but he's not ready to hire a chef or even think about a menu.

First, everything about the circa-1905 storefront at 623 N. 25th St. must be examined, not just by city planning and zoning inspectors, but also by the historic commission, Church Hill's homeowners association and the ABC Board. That can create some logistical logjams and tack months onto a projected opening date.

Sanchez soldiers on, gutting the former fish market, installing the required fencing and handicapped-accessible restrooms, even restoring, as required, the painted sign on the building's north face that advertises "Cut Rate Drugs" at the too-close-to-reality intersection. Crews carted away 22,000 pounds of broken stucco from the exterior walls; now it's painted red.

The place will be called The Five Points Grill because it sits at a confluence of five roads where the city plans to install a traffic circle. So when will it open? Sanchez laughs: "See you here next year, I hope."

STARRING MOM: A network television show, "Wife Swap," is looking for local restaurant owners who operate their own business and have kids. Featured families earn a $20,000 fee and national exposure, and those who refer a business that is selected get $1,000, the production company says.

Heather Teta, associate casting producer for RDF Media, wants to locate outgoing, dynamic parents whose children, ages 5-18, might be involved in the business after school.

"We're looking for the moms, dads and kids that put their blood, sweat and tears into the family business each and every day -- families who appreciate the benefits of hard work, discipline and good customer service."

"Wife Swap" airs at 8 p.m. Mondays on ABC. Though its title may titillate, it's billed as a family reality show: Two moms from different walks of life swap families ("Not bedrooms!" Teta notes) to experience a different lifestyle and perhaps exert some motherly influence on a new brood. Contact the casting office through — Deveron Timberlake

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