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Side Dish


Former St. Christopher's football coach George Tarasovic is knee-deep in drywall and city inspectors as he prepares the former Chiocca's Park Avenue Inn for its reinvention as Table 9. His 40-seat bistro at the corner of Meadow and Park will serve Russian- and Czech-inspired dishes, specialty pizzas and steaks, kielbasa and stuffed quahogs, among other items. Tarasovic, son of a Pittsburgh Steeler great, has cooked at Kuba Kuba and was longtime bar manager at O'Toole's. Now, in a circa-1908 building owned by Manny Mendez and Johnny Giavos, the 42-year-old chef is going it solo; he expects to open in April.

Three local restaurateurs are talking to leasing agent Jim Ashby of Thalhimer Cushman Wakefield about starting a new establishment at Main Street Beer Company, which closed last year. Talks are in progress with three "well-qualified local operators," Ashby says, "and we hope to make a decision as to who we'll move forward with soon." Plans are to reopen the place with a new identity by midsummer.

Local bars and restaurants — including Europa, The Hard Shell, Bandito's, Star-lite, Tonic, Cafe Diem, Gray Bear Grille and Grafiti Grille — are donating a dollar a drink to Martinis for Mutts, a promotion to help homeless animals at the Richmond SPCA. Beagletinis and Chihuahuas are some of the libations being offered. The benefit runs through April 1.

At Lewis Ginter Botanical Garden, Lynchburg-based restaurateurs Eddie and Rie Godsey are taking the reins at the Robins Tea House, Garden Cafe and catering operations after several other providers there got less-than-stellar reviews from management and customers in recent years. The pair operates two Lynchburg establishments, Isabella's and Meriwether's Market Restaurant, and count St. Catherine's School and Union Theological Seminary among local clients. The tea room reopened last week for luncheon and dinner service Monday through Friday.

Bubble teas, smoothies and herbal teas are new to Stony Point Fashion Park, where owner Sandy Yang is offering more than 40 flavors of customized beverages. Pearl Tea House, tucked near The Sharper Image, carries teas, hot chocolate and juices and a selection of pastries, including macadamia pie.

Spring cleaning has hit two old standbys in the Fan. At Star-lite Dining and Lounge, 2600 W. Main St., new art deco-style booths and a freshened decor will set off an updated menu that debuts mid-March. And the once-grubby Sven Shine Inn, in the basement of the Lost Sock Laundromat at 1319 W. Main St., has new paint, a new bar and a new owner, Scott Sloan, but the same wood-fired pizzas, sandwiches and occasional acoustic music on weekends.

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