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Food

Grisette is coming to 401 N. 27th St late summer/Fall 2018! Tres bon!

This article was co-authored with Eric Huffstutler.
Image taken from the Historic Richmond website.
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The Wills Grocery Store on the corner of N. 27th and E. Marshall is in the process of being leased and converted to Grisette, a southern French/American soul-food eatery that’s being touted as more of a neighborhood local. It  will sit directly across the street from both Dutch & Co and WPA BakeryChef Donnie Glass and Andy McClure are the project developers. Both are very aware of the history of 401 N. 27th Street and have a commitment to do right by the building.

“This building has been occupied by countless ideas, concepts and businesses” and they’re correct, this building was originally a Grocery Store,  then Dry Goods, then a Fish and Seafood Market,  then Electronics Sales (Radios mainly), a Grocery Store (again), and then, a Laundromat from 1947 on. Built in 1815, 401 is the oldest standing commercial building in Richmond. (1) If you get a chance, be sure to check out this comprehensive article by Eric H on the building’s history.

Some images of 401 throughout the years:

1956 - Edith Shelton (The Valentine)1978 - via VCU

Let’s get into it. Who are the developers?

Donnie and Andy operate a small business group that operates several other restaurants within historic buildings in Charlottesville, including The Virginian, Tavern and Grocery and Citizen Burger Bar.

What kind of restaurant are they proposing?

The restaurant they plan to open “will be modeled after one of the great traditions of Southern French cuisine- the humble Bouchon”.

As for our style of cuisine, we’re aiming at something you guys might really enjoy- southern French/American soul-food. So much of this restaurant comes down what we as owners and operators would like to eat- something simple, delicious, and affordable. We plan to have a nice wood-fired rotisserie for chickens and simple daily plates of Appalachian and Chesapeake driven food. We also would like our prices to be a bit lower than the rest of the neighborhood, making ourselves less of a “special occasion” restaurant, and more of a neighborhood local. While we pride ourselves on our professional work as cooks and service staff, we don’t take ourselves so seriously as to not keep true, relaxed hospitality at the forefront of our operation.

What is the timeline?

At this moment, the group is in the request and planning stages. They are currently in the permitting phase and looking at a Late Summer opening, for now. As the project develops, we’ll follow up.

What about parking?
The developers are only looking at seating for around 40 dining patrons and betting on the bus stop that is right in front of the building to bring in customers, as well as other alternative modes of transportation. Chef Glass says they are well aware of the crowded parking conditions and have been reaching out to other nearby businesses and locals to get a feel for how they’ll handle it.

One of the locals reported that a parking petition is in the works by a neighbor. We’ll have more on that if/when it becomes available and report on its progress.

What is a Certificate of Appropriateness?
When an owner of a local historic landmark or a resident within a historic district wants to make changes to the exterior of his or her property, a Certificate of Appropriateness (COA) is needed in addition to other permits that may apply. – CAR Submission Application

Here are the changes that the developers want to make:

  • “We plan to mend her as we would our own home- pull the weeds, fix it if it’s broken and take a lot of pride in how she looks”
  • Repairing and patching of the stucco that covers the original brick
  • Repairing the doors and windows- in some cases match the historical design intent
  • Molding and trim work of damaged portions
  • Applying new neutral paint
  • Minimal signage in the form of a “narrow protrusion”

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So here we have it folks, a relaxed new restaurant with a distinctly different vibe. This is an exciting new venture for Marshall St as it continues its boom with new eateries like the upcoming Alewife and further down the street, GRACE.

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51 Comments
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Chelsea Harnish
Chelsea Harnish
2 years ago

This is terrific news to wake up to!!!

Christina Pham
Christina Pham
2 years ago

Another restaurant within walking distance!

HW
HW
2 years ago

Great news and looking forward to seeing them meet and beat that timeline. A brief comment about parking. Parking cannot be the enemy of the growth in the neighborhood, nor should parking directly outside your planned destination be the goal. Eyes on the street and the foot traffic of patrons and residents moving about keeps petty crime at bay and adds a vibrancy that i welcome.

Jessica Bareford
Jessica Bareford
2 years ago

4 blocks! French/southern soul?! Yes yes yes

David Seibert
David Seibert
2 years ago

Wow. That would be amazing.

Lydia Marek
Lydia Marek
2 years ago

How great is this??!!

Kelly Fitzgerald
Kelly Fitzgerald
2 years ago

As a resident of 27th and Marshall I would encourage the author of this piece to broaden your sources and not only rely on the input and opinions of Eric S. Huffstutler. The other residents on our block do not share his opinion of the parking situation nor do we plan on signing any petition. We have a lovely relationship with Dutch & Co. and all of our other neighbors who are always open and accommodating if we have any issue. We will of course hope to work with this new establishment regarding parking. Again, please reach out to more… Read more »

ray
ray
2 years ago

Love it!

That said, I think a summer/fall 2020 — yes 2020 — opening is a realistic opening date; 2018 will simply be impossible. I mean, this building needs EVERYTHING done to it.

What do you think, Eric?

SA Chaplin
SA Chaplin
2 years ago

To add to Ray’s comment: When it comes to renovating, count on “the rule of three:” Make your best estimates, then multiply by three: It will take three times the time, three times the money and will be three times the trouble.

Still, go for it!

Eric S. Huffstutler
Eric S. Huffstutler
2 years ago

Kelly, the parking situation has always been a concern and talked about many times on CHPN over the years. I have been in contact with the people at Grisette and they too understand the parking situation and are hoping patrons will use the bus and other modes of transportation to visit them. But, the petition was NOT mine and not signing it but is something presented to me by a neighbor on the block.

Eric S. Huffstutler
Eric S. Huffstutler
2 years ago

@7 Kelly Fitzgerald… what parts are “incorrect”? Everything mentioned are direct from email correspondences I have had with Donnie Glass and other parts are from my own historical article from October 2013 in the CHA Newsletter. The rest was from the actual CAR applications submitted by Glass and McClure and websites. As far as parking, they are aware of it and reaching out to the community and betting on people using the bus (there is a stop in front of the building) and other modes of transportation, including walking, to visit their establishment and the available parking spaces grandfathered in.… Read more »

HW
HW
2 years ago

@10 is this the parking petition that was making the rounds late last year or a new one. If know, what is the scope of this one? Additionally, what is the nature of the parking concern?

Cynthia Shelhorse
Cynthia Shelhorse
2 years ago

Trying to wrap my brain around a “southern French/American soul-food eatery” … whatever, I’m coming 🙂

Jason S
Jason S
2 years ago

Eric Huffstutler, of shoot-teenagers-with-a-bullet-if-your-window-gets-broken fame. It’s surprising to see you take such a laissez-faire approach to parking and density after years of hardcore “not in my backyard” positions.

This is an informative read though, I’ll give you that.

Isabella Denicourt
Isabella Denicourt
2 years ago

@Cynthia But of course you are!

E
E
2 years ago

YAY!!!!!

Jessica Wilson
Jessica Wilson
2 years ago

Yassss !! Very mouth looking forward to this !!!

Eric S. Huffstutler
Eric S. Huffstutler
2 years ago

@15 Jason S… my position about parking is not just my concern singularly and if you look at the archives, dates back well before even when Dutch & Co or WPA came into the picture. It is strictly a factual concern and even gave measurements in one post of the average length of a car and the width of a house property line… and how the two correlate. You end up in the negative even without a business on the street. Then you have people who are aged or handicapped who rely on close parking, especially in inclement weather. Those… Read more »

Jason s
Jason s
2 years ago

I hear ya, Eric. and I commend you for your informative and well written piece. I’m very excited for this restaurant and the parking will work itself out. The business is great for the community.

I’m just giving you a hard time for past dustups. This was an informative read.

Jason s
Jason s
2 years ago

I wish I’d originally shared more of the excitement I’m feeling about Donny and Andy bringing their awesome idea to Church Hill. This is really, really wonderful!

ChimboPark
ChimboPark
2 years ago

To be fair on the timeline if you peak inside it looks like some work has already started or has been completed in the last few years. Last time I walked by I believe it looked like new HVAC fixtures were installed but I may be mistaken.

ChimboPark
ChimboPark
2 years ago

Also what a fabulous restaurant group to welcome to the neighborhood, the Virginian and Citizen are top notch!

Eric S. Huffstutler
Eric S. Huffstutler
2 years ago

@8 ray… Oh yes… there is plenty to be done with the building as it still remains a gutted shell left by a previous owner, since 2004. A few structural weaknesses need to be addressed. I knew it would always take deep pockets to fix it up and this restaurant group, who has several successful ones, just may be those pockets. My concern is… that they are only leasing the building and so, the building owners (there are trusts involved per deeds I have copies of) is benefiting from this venture where they had refused to do anything with it… Read more »

Zachary
Zachary
2 years ago

This is great!

Plus, I’d rather deal with parking and park a block or two away than seeing that ugly boarded up building all the time. It’s great that it might be made into something nicer. I can deal with parking, walking is good for you.

Eric S. Huffstutler
Eric S. Huffstutler
2 years ago

Thanks, Jason S. 😀

@21 ChimboPark. I noticed that as well but not sure if it was the building’s owner prior to when Grisette’s contract? A catering business was leasing space for equipment storage and had not really looked inside good after they moved out when the building started showing signs of “buckling and possible leaning” and different violations that needed to be fixed per the CAR, a few months back… until news of this.

Page Hutchinson
Page Hutchinson
2 years ago

Yes, it’s very exciting news!

Eric S. Huffstutler
Eric S. Huffstutler
2 years ago

It appears with an advertisement for a sampling event of what the restaurant will serve, appeared in Charlottesville last September. It seems the original name for the restaurant was going to be “Bouchon Tallulah” and the menu will focus on Lyonnaise-Virginian Cuisine. The text that went with the digital invite said: ” What’s a Bouchon? ‘Bouchons are all about crispy pig parts, oysters, carafes of Beaujolais, the tradition of very hands-on ownership, daily menus written around what’s abundant, neighborly banter, and the buzz of a busy, small, noisy restaurant,’ says Glass. ‘I love those things. I crave those things like… Read more »

Eric S. Huffstutler
Eric S. Huffstutler
2 years ago

Anything new on this? No activity for them to be open in 3 or so months… especially with the building itself needing so much work.

Eric S. Huffstutler
Eric S. Huffstutler
2 years ago

Still no updates?

HW
HW
2 years ago

@28&9, can’t you just reach out to your source for an update since you cowrote the piece?

Eric S. Huffstutler
Eric S. Huffstutler
2 years ago

Would if I could but they went silent right after the post about permits. There is and have been quite a few structural issues and hope they aren’t second guessing this?

Eric S. Huffstutler
Eric S. Huffstutler
2 years ago

According to the CAR, the owner nor the restaurant group has applied yet for any building permits and a month has already passed towards the late summer opening.

ray
ray
2 years ago

Like I said earlier, if it’s really going to ever happen — and, yes, I have my doubts it will — summer 2020 is far more realistic than even summer 2019, much less this year.

crd
crd
2 years ago

@32, they DID go to CAR at some point, though. Even if they haven’t applied for a building permit.

Eric S. Huffstutler
Eric S. Huffstutler
2 years ago

@34 true, they did submit plans to the CAR but was told that they were aiming for a late Summer opening. The last day of Summer is August 31st, less than 3 months away. Considering we are looking at basically a brick shell which is over 200-years old. Has structural weaknesses and bad repairs as well as things that need to be up to current codes PLUS… fitting it out to be a restaurant, all within 3 months and no permits have even been applied for yet?

ray
ray
2 years ago

And, Eric, as you have mentioned previously in post #23, the owner of the building has a pretty sketchy track record.

Eric S. Huffstutler
Eric S. Huffstutler
2 years ago

Things are not off to a good start for this project.

The cities property maintenance inspector said that they are monitoring the building structure while the building inspector said that the owner has been presented with violations of non permitted construction on the interior, that they noted.

I saw what looked like new permits in the window a couple of days ago but for whatever reason, the owners posted expired permits from 2016. Odd.

Eric S. Huffstutler
Eric S. Huffstutler
2 years ago

Even though this seems to be a one-way conversation, I will still post what updates that I hear about which is basically… none. Another month is passing and another closer to the proposed opening date. From what I hear, there are still no permits applied for. Paper now covers the windows so you can’t see what is going on but the city will be checking in. No one has heard a word from Donnie Glass, the chef who was going to lease the building. I did hear that the HRF was attempting to once again obtain the building through Spot… Read more »

Liz
Liz
2 years ago

Eric, thank you for keeping up on this project. I appreciate the updates!

Eric S. Huffstutler
Eric S. Huffstutler
2 years ago

@39
Thanks, Liz, at least someone cares 🙂

I will always keep on top as I have for nearly 20 years since the building is historically linked to our house and the oldest commercial building in Richmond. A fact that the city has cast a blind eye to over the years.

Eric S. Huffstutler
Eric S. Huffstutler
2 years ago

Another month has passed. The initial proposed “end of summer” opening is upon us and yet, nothing has happened and at this point, seriously doubt it will concerning Grisette and Donnie Glass moving in. I am waiting on a couple updates and will post them here but if anyone else has any inside information, please share. Thanks.

Annonymous
Annonymous
2 years ago

I think it is safe to assume they are probably going through City Permitting and having a snag and that is why it isn’t progressing. Their permitting office is terrible and sometimes takes MONTHS for full renovation projects, especially if there is a parking variance that needs to be approved. May want to keep that in mind.

Kay
Kay
2 years ago

I sincerely doubt this will ever happen.

Eric S. Huffstutler
Eric S. Huffstutler
2 years ago

Have more feelers out. An “interest” but not the owner of the building applied for a permit after an inspector visited but the result is a bit confusing. They passed the interior but not the exterior. The building is a 203-year-old brick shell and so the exterior is also the interior. And the only permit I see so far is for a barricade. Will post updates as they come in. Donnie Glass lives locally, the person who wanted to lease the building for the restaurant but he has yet to chime in. He has been ignoring attempts by many to… Read more »

UH
UH
2 years ago

Eric – for what it’s worth, I heard a while back from folks in the neighborhood that the restaurant project had fallen through.

Eric S. Huffstutler
Eric S. Huffstutler
2 years ago

@42 Annonymous Parking has always been a sore spot with residents when they compete with businesses that open up in residential areas. This is no exception since parking is already cramped. The first attempt to open this building up as a restaurant several years ago was met with restrictions requiring x-number of “off-street” parking spaces within 300 feet of the building. And there are only a couple on-street spaces available to be grandfathered in – minus the stretch that consists of the bus stop directly in front of it. As far as permits… another sore spot when it comes to… Read more »

Eric S. Huffstutler
Eric S. Huffstutler
2 years ago

For those who live in the immediate vicinity, this may give some insight about what to expect from the owner, crew, and its patrons. This is on the Grisette webpage that popped up earlier this month.

Concerning the Crew: “We don’t care much for titles, think little of “the rules”, and we’re a little loud.”

“Our food is unfussy, to be eaten with good drink, and enjoyed in chatty company.”

So, is this a precursor about it being a noisy haunt with even noisier patrons falling out of it? Let’s hope not.

Eric S. Huffstutler
Eric S. Huffstutler
2 years ago

@45 UH… All indications seem to point in that direction. I think the Grisette group has true intentions but when the building owner was up to their old tricks trying to buck the system with codes and permits, things started going sour. But then I hear mixed signals today that there are permits applied for. A barricade permit was issued on Monday and the HRF says that Glass is still interested in opening up a restaurant (seeking source). Just that the vision seems to have changed according to the website that showed up a couple of weeks ago. Moving from… Read more »

Eric S. Huffstutler
Eric S. Huffstutler
2 years ago

I finally heard from Donnie Glass (Grisette). It is still on but as suspected, the building and its owner(s) are basically the holdup. The silence was part of his being busy but also on a long needed vacation. He hasn’t had anything to report since everything concerning the building is stalled for now but promised to keep me up to date 🙂

dontmincewords
dontmincewords
2 years ago
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