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.
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.”
“From the moment you enter the lobby accented with Tiffany stained glass, marble columns, and of course, a statue of Thomas Jefferson, you’ll know why this historic grande dame is one of the top hotels in town. But dazzling design is just the beginning. The service is polished, yet warm, and thanks to a sweeping renovation wrapped in 2017 – the accommodations and common areas now balance old-world elegance with contemporary comforts. While I appreciated the entrance foyer, ample space, and table for dining and working in my Grand Premier Room, it was the marble-clad bathroom decked out with a deep soaking tub, vanity mirrors with TV screens, and two vanities that really dazzled. For an unforgettable night out: look no further than Lemaire, the hotel’s fine dining restaurant specializing in elevated New American cuisine crafted with local meat and produce.”
Quirk Hotel Richmond
Richmond finally got the hip boutique hotel it deserved when Quirk opened in 2015 in the Arts & Design District. Owned by hotelier couple Ted and Katie Ukrop, the property seamlessly blends the old and new. You’ll see signs of the hotel’s former life as a department store throughout, from the original ironwork staircase to the 13-foot limestone arches. The 73 rooms are appointed with a whimsical mix of materials and colors (including a hefty dose of Quirk’s signature pink), along with locally-sourced artwork. The Lobby Bar, which is currently open for weekend brunch and dinner, turns out globe-trotting small plates of Gochujang Roasted Squash, Provolone Pimento Dip, and Ricotta Gnudi. Pop into Quirk Gallery to check out up-and-coming talent and score some unique gifts.
Some good eats!
Besides dome fun places to stay, Forbes shows us some amazing restaurants you must try! There’s definitely too many to choose from, but here’s some samples!
Owned by partners in work and life Lyne and Randall Doetzer, Jackson Ward’s Restaurant Adarra is an increasingly rare restaurant that suits all types of eaters and occasions. The design is warm and handsome, with exposed brick, lots of dark wood, and a cozy bar that begs diners to linger long after their meal is done. The food menu takes inspiration from Spain’s Basque country, and features traditional, ingredient-drive bites like Pintxos Gilda, marinated anchovies (boquerones), and assorted conservas, while the wine list skews natural and organic.
Don’t be put off Lehja’s shopping mall location, because you’ll be rewarded with traditional and creative Indian food that extends beyond the standbys of chicken tikka masala and saag paneer. For something original, order off the contemporary section of the menu. The best-selling Deconstructed Butter Chicken, for example, smothers roasted free-range chicken breast with a rich, nut-based Makhni sauce and sauteed greens.
Some of the country’s buzziest restaurants were born of humble beginnings as pop-ups. That’s the case with Longoven, which started as a pop-up series at Sub Rosa Bakery, and later opened as a brick-and-mortar in Scott’s Addition to much acclaim in 2018. Though the service is super attentive, and the dishes as easy on the eyes as they are on the palate, the restaurant feels intimate and convival – not formal or stuffy. And when the newly-revamped patio opens this weekend, there will be another good reason to book a table.
There’s lots of words you could use to describe this French restaurant in Oregon Hill helmed by chef David Shannon. But the one word locals and out-of-towners seem to repeat over and over again is fun. The design is and eclectic and unforgettable, anchored by David statues, phallic stained-glass window, and Andy Warhol wallpaper. Fittingly, the kitchen is sending out equally imaginative European fare with cheeky names like Vegan Orgy On Texas Beach and Cocky Yet Classic And So Very Comfy-Cozy Coq Au Vin.
A contemporary spin on the classic Jewish deli, Perly’s offers familiar dishes (think matzo ball soup and potato latkes) alongside original creations like the Jewish Sailor. Perfect for the heartiest appetites, the oversized sandwich generously layers pastrami, beef sausage, and chicken liver on toasted rye bread. In the mood for a nosh? Try the Jewish Egg Rolls, which are stuffed with chopped corned beef, kishka, and sauerkraut, and paired with honey mustard schmaltz and amba sauce for dipping.
Sub Rosa Bakery
Run by siblings Evrim and Evin Dogu, this charming bakery and cafe in historic Church Hill has perfected the art of baking. And how? First, the Dogus only use regionally-grown heirloom grains. Then, they take things further by milling on-site, and baking everything in the wood-fired masonry oven. While the buttery, puffy, and gorgeously layered croissants are spectucular, don’t pass up on the Pide Flatbread, Pogaca, and Lamb Börek that pay homage to the Dogus’ Turkish roots.
This casual joint is proof positive you don’t have to be in Texas to score some seriously solid barbeque. Because at ZZQ, it isn’t just about tender, dry-rubbed brisket. There’s also racks of peppery ribs, and smoky, spicy sausages. (Fun fact: the three meats are widely known as the Texas Trinity.) And the side dishes, like the collards cooked with blackstrap molasses, hot sauce, and bacon, are so flavorful they stand out on their own.
There is so much to check out in RVA! Make sure you check out all of the amazing local spots – you won’t be disappointed!
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.
Happy Tuesday, friends! We stumbled on this post from CustomerBliss.com and thought it was something our restaurant industry friends would love to hear! It’s no secret that customer experience is more crucial than ever and mastering it can make a huge difference for your brand!
They write: “As consumers become more and more conscious of how they spend their money, it’s especially important to consider how you deliver a restaurant experience to your audience. In their report, “Serving up a great customer experience: Through the eyes of guests,” Deloitte says, “A restaurant’s brand is no longer only about food […] The ability to deliver consistently engaging, memorable experiences that drive a connection to the brand at every touchpoint is more critical than ever.”
Listen to the Human Duct Tape Show podcast for more information on improving customer experience in the restaurant world:
We hope you get some good information from the podcast!
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.