Growing up, Jay Modi was immersed in the world of food from an early age, helping his parents in their New Jersey pizza restaurants, answering phones, cleaning and eventually working the line in the kitchen. Passionate about all aspects of hospitality, Modi always knew that one day he wanted to pursue a career in the food and beverage industry, and after time spent in the finance world, that day has come. This summer, Modi and his team plan to debut ChefSuite, a ghost kitchen and food business incubator featuring 16 rentable, 200- to 400-square-foot spaces for entrepreneurs to work their magic.
Following a decade-long stint in finance, in 2019 Modi took the leap to kick-start his dreams, quitting his job and purchasing a food truck. Then the pandemic hit.
“That’s when I began exploring something called ghost kitchens,” says Modi, co-CEO and chief operating officer of ChefSuite.
Foregoing dine-in service, ghost kitchens serve food for delivery and takeout only. The model has been on the rise since the onset of the pandemic and allows flexibility for both business owners and patrons.
“[I] kind of came up with this idea of, what if we take a step back and we really put this tenant first,” Modi says. “Where we make sure that they’re going to be successful, make sure that they have all the tools and everything else that they will need in order to operate this business to its full maximum potential.”
Modi reached out to longtime friend Jarnail Tucker, co-CEO and chief information officer of ChefSuite, who also saw the need for a business that provided support to people in the industry.
“Whether it’s marketing, operational, financial support, all these different things that are in the existing industry — people aren’t really offering anybody help,” Tucker says. “So that’s where the conversation kind of organically started to form. From, ‘Well, what if somebody did offer all this stuff, and they gave you the support system you needed? Would you be successful?’ And [Modi was] like, ‘Absolutely.’ ”
ChefSuite hosted an open house May 16 for prospective tenants to tour the space. One question asked more than anything else by attendees: “Why Richmond?” As three non-Richmonders, Modi, Tucker and Chief Marketing Officer Samira Modaressi say they felt it was time to bring more attention to the Richmond food scene. They also plan to open a location in Atlanta by the end of the year.
“I’ve always known that Richmond has this deep food and arts/culture scene that really doesn’t get enough hype outside of Richmond, which is shocking to me because there’s just so much happening there,” Tucker says. “There’s always new concepts popping up, and people are willing to try anything.”
Tenants have the choice between a six-, nine- or 12-month rental contract and are offered a variety of services, such as monthly financial reporting, onboarding assistance on third-party apps, menu-building, a service team for front of house, marketing support, food consulting and partnerships with local food purveyors. The team pride themselves on transparency and say they want their tenants to feel supported, knowing how daunting the process of getting a restaurant started can be.
“We’re more of a partnership than anything with them, guiding them through the space, helping them when they need help, and kind of standing back and letting them thrive when they’re ready to do so,” Modaressi says.
Post originally written by Mike Platania at RichmondBizSense.com
With a new food hall open in Manchester and another in the works in a redeveloped Henrico mall, the trend will soon make its way to Scott’s Addition thanks to one of Richmond’s most prolific restaurant groups.
EAT Restaurant Partners, owner of more than a dozen local eateries such as Fat Dragon and Red Salt Chophouse, spent $3 million last week to purchase the Hutcheson & Co. building at 3013 W. Leigh St., which it is planning to convert into the neighborhood’s first food hall.
The 17,000-square-foot warehouse had previously been under contract to local development firm Capital Square for a similar food hall concept, but the company stepped away from the deal, a spokeswoman confirmed.
EAT President Chris Tsui said his group had been discussing being a tenant and operator of the food hall for Capital Square before stepping in as the buyer.
“(Capital Square) thought it’d be better that we own the property, and it made more economic sense for us to buy rather than rent it,” Tsui said. “We’ve wanted to do (a food hall) for several years, and they have so many new tenants they wanted some more amenities for them.”
Tsui’s referencing the more than 500 new apartments Capital Square is building in the neighborhood, including 200 in its three-building Scott’s Collection project nearby and 350 at the Otis, the city-block sized mixed-use project along Roseneath Road that’s recently begun inking commercial tenants.
EAT Restaurant Partners closed on the Hutcheson building on May 20, with Divaris’ Read Goode representing them in the deal. The city most recently assessed the property, which spans three parcels, at a combined $1.8 million.
For decades the building had been home to electrical hardware supplier Hutcheson & Co., but the firm has since relocated to Henrico.
Tsui said he’s not sure exactly how many vendor stalls the food hall will have but noted that some of EAT’s 13 concepts are likely to be present there.
“We’re still deciding what direction we want to go. I think we have several concepts that we can choose from in-house,” Tsui said.
“We’re planning some non-food stalls also — vendors that may want a stall, like someone who makes pottery or candles. I think there’ll be a lot of people floating through the food hall, it could be good exposure for someone who doesn’t have a storefront.”
Michael Pellis Architecture is the project’s architect and Patricia Holley of Design Therapy is its interior designer. Tsui said they’re hoping the food hall will be ready by 2024.
EAT has previously bought and developed the real estate it occupies, including Hot Chick’s building in Shockoe Bottom. Tsui said the company has investors in both its restaurants and real estate, and that it’s bringing in some additional capital for the food hall project.
We hear it every day: plastics are polluting our planet, the ocean, and killing marine life. Yet, we rely on plastics for just about everything! Think about how much plastic you throw away in a given week – it’s quite painful to think about! Plastic utensils are one items that are thrown into landfills daily – restaurants and homes use these and it makes us shudder to even think about how often they end up in the ocean or on the side of the road.
But what if we told you there’s a new “plastic” in town – we purposely put plastic in quotes because this is indeed NOT a plastic. It looks like plastic – it feels like plastic – but it is far from it. It’s actually a material that has been used for THOUSANDS of years. You may know it as a tequila ingredient or a natural sweetener – but now, you can use it to enjoy your salad or favorite beverage – it’s AGAVE!
That’s right ! You can now eat and drink with agave. The left-over scraps used in tequila-making are now being formed into plastic-like eat- and drinkware! How cool is that?! And what’s so cool about this? The straws decompose 200 times faster than their plastic counterparts!
Metro Supplies is proud to be supplying Richmond, VA and surrounding areas with the best in agave eating and drinking utensils! We know sustainability and earth-friendly practices are extremely important – and we can help you and your business get there. Ask us about all of our planet-loving products!
It’s no secret that many things have had a serious impact on the restaurant industry – from labor shortages to supply-chain issues, restaurants have had to get creative to survive – and it’s been TOUGH. In addition to these internal issues, many diners are still nervous to sit in crowded restaurants and prefer take-out to enjoy in the comfort and safety of their own homes. Here, The Manual shows us 2022’s top 5 food trends!
Ghost Kitchens – taking food to go is not going away anytime soon – even big companies like Wendy’s and Buca di Beppo are getting in on the action – Wendy’s is planning 700 ghost kitchens in the next 5 years! Research suggests this could be a trillion dollar industry over the next decade!
Plant Power – vegan salmon, tuna sashimi and even bacon! More and more establishments are featuring plant-based menu options as more Americans embrace a vegan lifestyle.
Sustainable Packaging – At Metro Supplies, we proudly provide our clients with an array of sustainable options. Biodegradable straws and simple cardboard boxes are some green options restaurants can use to keep their customers happy while helping the environment.
Limited Menus with a Dash of Creativity – sky-high food prices and supply chain issues have forced restaurants to rethink their “typical” menus. According to the National Restaurant Association, 8 out of 10 restaurants have been forced to change their menus. Creating a more limited menu featuring truly delicious food choices help reduce labor and supply costs.
Food Fusions – more and more chefs are experimenting with try new cuisines and combining different styles of cooking. The possibilities are endless!
The Richmond Jewish Food Festival is back for one day only this weekend! Make sure to pre-order your food for pick up!
RICHMOND, Va. (WRIC) — Rich Goldberg and his wife have been with the Richmond Jewish Food Festival since day one. He attributes the evolution of the festival to his wife, Diane. “It was my wife’s idea to resurrect it from a previous incarnation,” Goldberg explained.
Goldberg said that the food festival originated at his synagogue, Keneseth Beth Israel, where it was put on annually for six years before the popularity of the festival outgrew the space available at the site.
“We just kept growing and growing until we outgrew the synagogue,” Goldberg described. “We decided to make it at a more appropriate location… this way we could consider it more of a Jewish community event.
The Richmond Jewish Food Festival now resides at The Weinstein Jewish Community Center, 5403 Monument Ave.
After its first year at the community center, the festival fully filled that space as well. Goldberg said that, in the inside of the center, there is a large auditorium where people would take their food to eat after ordering. They also had to set up heated tents around the outside of the community center to accommodate the amount of people attending.
“It’s 6,000-square-feet of tent space just for serving food,” he stated.
On average, over the two days of the festival, Goldberg said that around 10,000 people come by to take part and sample the array of foods offered.
After a hiatus in 2020, this year, Goldberg said the festival will look a little different:
In order to keep both attendees and volunteers safe, this year the 14th Annual Jewish Food Festival will be a one-day take home, “Heat n’ Eat” style event.
Guests are asked to order their food in advance off of a set menu online. They will then pick up their pre-cooked food at the Weinstein Jewish Community Center on Sunday, Jan. 16 from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. No cash will be accepted.
Many regular menu items of the past will not be available due to cooking restraints, but fan favorites such as beef brisket, knish and stuffed cabbage will remain on this year’s menu.
“There are some restaurants around town that might serve some of these things, but these are authentic things and they are cooked by normal people,” Goldberg explained. “We don’t have any chefs on-hand or anything like that, its just the kinds of food that we would eat on our Sabbath, on our holidays, cooked by the people who do this normally for their family.”
It’s hard to remember a more highly-anticipated spring for diners than that of 2021, as the warmer weather coincided with wider COVID-19 vaccine access and a return to dining rooms all over the Richmond region.
Heaps of restaurant news followed: New concepts were announced, local restaurant groups expanded their footprints, and plenty of old restaurant spaces were given new life.
Enrico “Jo Jo” Armetta is the owner of Jo Jo’s Famous Pizza.
Others looked south, such as Enrico Armetta, who made the leap to add a Midlothian location of his longtime downtown pizzeria Jo Jo’s Famous Pizza. Brad Barzoloski also went to Chesterfield for a location of his Capitol Waffle Shop in the Shops at the Arboretum.
EAT Restaurant Partners continued to expand into Richmond’s surrounding counties in 2021, opening a second PBR location (this time in Hanover County) as well as preparing to open a Wong’s Tacos restaurant in the Winterfield Crossing mixed-use development in Midlothian.
Pop-ups — temporary concepts often operated within another restaurant on limited days of the week — saw a spike in popularity over the last year, and a few did well enough to land brick-and-mortar spots in 2021.
Among them was Buttermilk and Honey, a takeout-friendly fried chicken concept Lillie Pearl owners Kimberly Love-Lindsey and Mike Lindsey started last year and took full-time in Short Pump. The married couple also became the new operators of Pop’s Market downtown.
Soul Taco’s owners decided to make their Jewish and African fusion concept JewFro a permanent fixture of the local restaurant scene, opening in Shockoe Bottom after the concept had a run as a pop-up earlier in 2021.
A handful of food trucks also went the brick-and-mortar route.
The pandemic also accelerated the arrival of ghost kitchens, the delivery-only spots where restaurateurs can set up shop without having a front door for customers to come through.
ChefSuite is working to open a kitchen on West Broad near Staples Mill, while a bit further east on Broad Street, Cloud Kitchens, run by a former Uber CEO, bought some space adjacent to The Hofheimer building.
New chains and concepts
Some local restaurant industry veterans kicked off new concepts in 2021.
Sweetfrog founder Derek Cha got in on the hot chicken sandwich craze in May when he opened his first Hangry Joe’s Hot Chicken in Ashland. Cha also kicked off expansion of the concept in 2021, opening in Fairfax with plans for locations to open in Short Pump and near Regency in early 2022.
Relative to years past, 2021 was a quiet one for beer and craft beverage news, with only one new brewery opening in the area: Holy Mackerel in Prince George. The new year is looking to be busier, with at least four new breweries planned to open in 2022.
New pop-up alert – so promising he’s already taking reservations for 2022!
RICHMOND, Va. — Daniel Harthausen is not yet a household name in Richmond’s culinary scene. But that has not stopped his Korean and Japanese cuisine-inspired Young Mother pop-up restaurant to sell out for the remainder of 2021.
He is taking reservations for 2022.
“I don’t see myself as somebody that’s a part of the Richmond chef community. I still just work and I do a pop-up once a month. People really like it and I love that,” Harthausen said. “I kind of just see myself as still an employee at Adarra, which I love.”
The 26-year-old Korea-born, Hampton Roads-raised chef said he has learned a lot from Adarra owner and chef Randall Doetzer.
“We’re fairly similar. I pick up on very blunt direction well,” he said. “I think it’s just coming from an athletic background or playing sports my whole life and then also coming up as a military kid. Being very coachable is a skill I think is really important for people. So like having someone just tell me directly when I need to do, I’ll go do it and then also learn from it.”
His time with Doetzer, plus stops at other Richmond restaurants like Yaki and Black Sheep, has given Harthausen the confidence to move forward with Young Mother.
“Primarily we’re focused on Japanese and Korean food. Kind of like this meshing of the two cultures. It’s pretty interesting on my end, being able to research how the two cultures kind of interact with food,” he said.
Click here to learn more about Young Mother pop-ups and DM the Instagram account to get on the waiting list for the next event.
Today is GivingTuesday, a movement created just 9 short years ago to inspire people to make a difference in the world, both big and small! The organization says:“GIVINGTUESDAY IS A MOVEMENT THAT UNLEASHES THE POWER OF RADICAL GENEROSITY AROUND THE WORLD.
GivingTuesday reimagines a world built upon shared humanity and generosity.
Our global network collaborates year-round to inspire generosity around the world, with a common mission to build a world where generosity is part of everyday life.
Whether it’s making someone smile, helping a neighbor or stranger out, showing up for an issue or people we care about, or giving some of what we have to those who need our help, every act of generosity counts, and everyone has something to give.”
So whether you do something as simple as checking on your neighbor and offering help or creating your own charitable organization, no act is too small or too big. The world needs all of the kindness it can get right now – and that starts with us….and you.
After a round of renovations, the space is now equipped with a full bar, cocktail menu and over 100 types of wine. The restaurant is open for lunch, dinner and brunch on weekends.
Henley’s dinner menu includes dishes like Ahi tuna with mushroom and Thai noodles, seared duck breast, and handmade pasta with seafood. Its lunch menu is heavy on salads and sandwiches like its Asian shrimp po’ boy and forager’s salad. Entrees range from about $20 to $31, and lunch options are from $10 to $15.
The restaurant is open Tuesday through Sunday. Wright said he’s got a staff of about 12, some of whom used to work for him at Bistro 27.