5811 Grove Avenue, cocodrilorva.com
Three of Cocodrilo’s four executives, soon arriving in the Grove Avenue hallway, built their restaurant chops through stays at the Lemaire at the Jefferson Hotel’s South-Tinted White Tablecloth.
At the forefront of the business are CEOs and co-owners Brad Slemaker, current head of River City Roll, and Brandon MacConnell, including Walter Bundy’s Shagbark, as well as CEO Tara Schleinkofer, who has spent close to ‘a decade at Lemaire.
Slemaker and MacConnell were initially approached about the project in late 2020 by River City Roll owner and Libbie-Grove resident, Rob Long, the final project partner.
Taking over the closed space of CafÃ© Caturra, the restaurant serves as a metaphor for the team of owners: a reintroduction to the culinary community following major career changes in the hospitality world – a new chapter.
âIt’s a new start, a new vision for us,â MacConnell says. “It will be the same caliber of things that we have done in other places.”
While the Latin-inspired menu has yet to be finalized, MacConnell explains, “You can see fried chicken or you can see a lobster roll, but with Latin American influences.”
Although the tortillas served in the restaurant are homemade, the two chefs note that âtraditionalâ and âauthenticâ are not necessarily words associated with their establishment. Rather, the aim is to present fun and playful twists that channel regional flavors and use a focal point of the kitchen: a stone deck oven.
All wines offered by the glass will be from Latin America, and Schleinkofer says the cocktail menu will focus on after-dinner libations, as well as “lots of margaritas.”
âThere is a certain level of quality [customers] expect us to bring, and [Cocodrilo] is just a more relaxed feeling, âsays Slemaker.
3138 West, rue Cary, chewysbagelsrva.com
Ashley Cricchio has spent the past three years perfecting her handmade bagel business, Chewy’s, while building a loyal following. She first started launching the sourdough varieties as a side business, announcing pop-ups and teasing photos of the freshly made beauties on Instagram. After moving her operations to Hatch Kitchen in 2019, the Maine native is now one month away from opening a brick-and-mortar bagel store that the people of Richmond have been patiently waiting for.
âPeople are supporting it,â says Cricchio, 34, of the community’s response. “We took the plunge to the farmer’s market [sales], and it gave people a closer look at what a bagel store looks like and allowed me to really start exploring what the store will look like for us.
Scheduled to open in February at the former Jean-Jacques Bakery space in Carytown, Chewy’s will offer bagels individually and by the dozen, as well as sandwiches Cricchio says he was able to sample during pop-ups at places such as Blue Bee Cider. and Recluse. Roasting project. Coffee will also be the focus, and customers can look forward to other baked goods such as cookies and pastries.
After serving in the United States Navy, Cricchio moved to Richmond to attend VCU and took up bagel-making as a hobby before landing a job at Whisk Bakery. Her appreciation and understanding of dough continued to grow, she says, with the bagel being the real star of this business, and the Chewy’s Everything and Rosemary Sea Salt varieties being popular favorites.
âOur bagel isn’t just about being a container for a bunch of toppings,â she says. “It’s so good, it tastes like sourdough and the texture is so nice.”
203 N. Lombardy Street, brunexperience.com
Originally neighbors on the North Side, now friends and business partners, owners of Brun, a whiskey and cigar lounge coming to the Fan, Charles Wilson and Adam Evans give credit to the pandemic for forging their relationship.
âDuring the COVID-19 period, our families grew closer,â says Evans, a former administrator and teacher at a Chesterfield County school in Charlottesville. âWe had similar energies and passion. “
The duo aim to create an atmospheric venue, housed in the former Poor Boys RVA space, that mixes dining, live music and a quality conversational appreciation – all enjoyed with a good cigar and groomed whiskey at the hand.
âI call it a social experiment,â says Wilson, originally from Chicago.
The back half of Brun, which means ‘brown’ in French, will be a dedicated cigar lounge, housing wraparound sofas and a cellar in partnership with Griffin Lounge, with membership options available.
Wilson, whose resume includes training as nuclear operators, six years in the US Navy and founding the Legacy Builders STEM Academy workforce development school, asks, “Why do people revere- they that? [whiskey]? What do they mean by “notes?” It is about understanding and having this sensory knowledge.
Executive Chef Nichole Richardson, who also owns the Mobile Yum Yum food truck, creates the Caribbean-inspired menu. Overseeing operations is General Manager Chauncey Jenkins, best known for his tenure at the Jefferson Hotel, followed by a stint at Common House Richmond.
Evans and Wilson say they were extremely attentive to who they wanted on their team and that collaboration is key.
âWe have mostly partnered with minority entrepreneurs, black-owned businesses and women-owned businesses, so when the end product is rolled out, all they see is excellence,â Wilson said.