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Everything was something else (restaurants and gentrification)

In the same issue naming Dutch and Co. as Richmond’s Restaurant of the Year, Style Weekly’s Backpage is an essay by Matthew Freeman on restaurants’ role in gentrification:

There are quite a few newcomers to the area that cater to a different clientele than the businesses that were there before. And where once corner stores and pizza and sub shops reigned, suddenly Church Hill plays host to one of the hottest fine-dining restaurant scenes in the city. But the snowball effect started by one business’ success easily can be read as opportunistic takeover by those who mourn the loss of affordability and demographic change wrought by gentrification.

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Brett 03/27/2014 at 10:05 AM

If the places were so great before, and adored so much by the community, then why did they go out of business? This is not a hostile takeover. Many of these places were empty when the new businesses came in. Have there been restaurants or stores who want to sell more affordable items that have been kept from opening up? If there are people who are angry, then why don’t they use their time and energy to open up something they believe would be better for the community? There are numerous sites still available. Open something, please. These are not wealthy individuals starting up the new businesses mentioned. They are hardworking people who did a lot of the heavy lifting themselves. They got loans, grants, performed their own construction and poured a lot of sweat and blood into their store to make the community better and now you are going to judge their efforts? Many have created numerous jobs. Union Market and Proper Pie alone have probably created more than 40 jobs. Is this not the American dream? Is that not what we want our neighborhood to be? What would be preferred?

Next Friend 03/27/2014 at 11:01 AM

There is something off in the premise that there are affordable stores being displaced in poor neighborhoods. The fact is that there are not, at least not in Church Hill outside of Family Dollar. The shoddy “Corner Stores” offer “groceries” at many times the cost of the same groceries at even the most expensive big box grocery stores. It is expensive to be poor.

FormerLibbyHillResident 03/27/2014 at 12:22 PM

Building a new business in a bombed out or vacant building is not gentrification. It is an entrepreneur taking a risk.

When Bruce and Pat Tyler bought the Rendezvous and changed it to the Hill Café, we all breathed a sigh of relief. It was nice not to have regular gunfire emanating from the people that used to visit the Rendezvous. My car took 3 bullets from a Tech 9 from one of the Rendezvous’ regulars. Seems one of the guys borrowed some money to buy cocaine and forgot to pay it back. It happens. They caught up with each other in front of my house in the 300 Block of 27th Street.

Oddly, the same block as the now Restaurant of the Year!

J 03/27/2014 at 2:47 PM

I think this is the most important statement in that article: “Local governments from Philadelphia to Richmond, Calif., are enacting legislation to ameliorate the downsides of gentrification by freezing property assessments for longtime residents and increasing investment in affordable housing. Richmond would do well to pay attention to these civic innovations as our population continues to grow. Protecting the residents who chose to stay and invest in the city while others fled makes sense and contributes to neighborhood stability.” This is exactly what needs to happen.

cagitate 03/28/2014 at 4:38 PM

I’m going to venture a wild guess that the first 3 commenters didn’t read the full article. Either that or you failed the reading comprehension portions of the SAT.

Guilty Mom 07/22/2014 at 8:34 AM

While I love the fact that Church Hill is on the map with all sorts of trendy, hip restaurants, am I the only parent who wishes these restaurants had some kid friendly options/ menu prices? As delicious as the Rabbit sounds at Dutch & Co., I can’t afford to spend $26 for an 11 year old to call it gross; ditto for the fried pighead at Roosevelt. Am I the only parent feeling left out of our swanky restaurant scene?

edg 07/22/2014 at 10:27 AM

Poe’s Pub offers kid options.

Queen of Church Hill 07/22/2014 at 11:21 AM

I second Poe’s for affordable, kid friendly options.

Clay Street 07/22/2014 at 11:41 AM

@6–The Hill Café is family-friendly.

Do you really feel that every single restaurant should have a low price-point with a “kid-friendly” menu? What do you mean by “kid-friendly”? chicken fingers?

Guilty Mom 07/22/2014 at 12:04 PM

Poe’s is great, and we have luck with Anthony’s too. And no, I don’t feel that every restaurant should have chicken fingers and mac and cheese. Not every restaurant needs to be kid-friendly, but kid tolerant would be appreciated

Eric S. Huffstutler 07/22/2014 at 12:24 PM

Brett, some of this happened during a time coined the “white flight” leaving mom and pop businesses behind in a neighborhood struggling so closed up. Some tried new ventures in the 1960’s – 1970s against the economic downfall of the area which lead to many blocks shuttered, blighted, slums, and high crime. But since the mid 1980s when people like Dan Harrington came in and bought up many of these abandoned homes to restore (ours was his own personal to live in) was a turning point but it still took decades to try and erase the stigma that tagged the neighborhoods along with gentrification issues. I would like to see a more diversified business model in the area but the overall needs have changed and past their prime yet I also don’t want to see a competing glut of restaurants which will eventually fail with such a concentration.


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