Okay, I’m back and so is my appetite. The flu grabbed hold of me last week and nothing looked or tasted good. But that’s all behind me. I’m ready to eat.
EATING AN ELEPHANT: “How do you eat an elephant,” Michael Hild asks rhetorically. He follows up with the answer, “One piece at a time.” I had the opportunity to meet Michael yesterday. I had read a story earlier in the week about his and his wife Laura’s plans to relaunch the old Climax Beverage Company as part of his piece by piece re-imagining of the Hull Street business corridor.
The Hild’s have been buying up parcels along the corridor for several years and the fruits of their labors are about to be enjoyed many others.
Even if you haven’t heard of the Hilds, you have probably heard about some of their projects
I don’t have room in today’s TasteBudz to eat the whole elephant, but let’s start with Hot Diggity Donut. That’s the first food-related piece that we’ll be seeing. Michael refers to the place not as a donut shop, but as a “donut lounge.” He says you’ll enjoy your coffee and donut by day, but when the lights go down, the space at 1213 Hull Street will become the place to go for desserts and cocktails. I’m thinking that maybe I could go around 4 in the afternoon and enjoy the best of both worlds. Michael says he anticipates Hot Diggity Donuts to be opening its doors in about 30 to 45 days.
By summer, his Butterbean Café should be opening just across the street (1204 Hull Street). This sounds like a cool and welcome spot for Manchester. The website describes it this way:
Offering hand pulled espresso, craft beer, and kombucha alongside delicious soups, salads, and sandwiches made from scratch, The Butterbean welcomes you to stop by and hang out any time of day. The Butterbean also carries just the right amount of grocery staples to grab those last minute ingredients or a few items to take to a party. Whether you’re looking for a quick stop or a place to unwind, The Butterbean is Manchester’s go to spot.
I haven’t even gotten to the Climax Beverage piece yet or the Hild’s food and beverage hall being planned for the old Siegel supermarket at 20th and Hull. We’ll talk more about that later.
A ZERO SANDWICH: I met Michael over at the Plant Zero Café at 7 E. 3rd Street, in Manchester. That’s a really cool little spot. I just had a delicious (and reasonably priced) cup of coffee, but while I was waiting, I perused the menu. They have an interesting sandwich selection. A couple that caught my eye were the Zero Gyro (garlic chicken and feta in a warm pita) and the Beef Billy (beef and gorgonzola on Billy Bread). They have a great little courtyard patio and yesterday was the perfect day to enjoy it. I’m definitely heading back over and doing some eating. Also, I want to tip my hat (if I wore one) to my server. She was so lovely and so helpful. I get real intimidated in many coffee shops inasmuch as I never took a course in ordering premium coffee. But she made it very easy and virtually pain free.
LET’S GO TO THE HOP: I stopped by Evan Byrne’s new place yesterday. Evan is putting the finishing touches on The Hop Craft Pizza & Beer at 1600 W. Cary Street. This is going to be a cool, “hopping,” little pizza joint when it opens its doors next Friday (April 6). “We’ll be doing hand-tossed, thin-crust Grandma’s Sicillian-stye pizza,” he tells me. In addition to the pizza, he says there’ll be a retail component, offering around 250 to 300 craft beers in bottles and cans. “There’ll be a small wine selection and other grab-and-go items,” he adds. The Hop will also be delivering high end pizzas along with beer and wine to local residents. Of course, you have to order it, which you can do online. They’re not just going to be bringing them to your door randomly. The Hop will be doing a beer tasting every Friday from about 5 to 7 p.m. Evan is a VCU alum, with a degree in accounting. He tells me that his partner is a professor of finance at VCU. By the way, there really is a style of pizza known as Grandma’s Pie. It’s a thin-crust Siciliian such as shown below.
THAT’S MY ALIBI…: While working on my music picks for the week (see below), I was checking out one of my very favorite groups, Cha Cha’s Cadillac and I discovered that they’re playing at a place in Petersburg that I have never heard of. It’s Old Towne’s Alibi at 305 N. Sycamore. I’m definitely going to have to head down that way. The menu sounds fantastic with a variety of American favorites such as shrip and grits, crabakes and smoked pork barbecue. And, Friday night, Cha’s Cha’s Cadillac.
FRUGAL FOODIE: Let me tell you about one of my favorite neighborhood hangouts – Big Al Sports Bar, located at 3601 Cox Road. Now, in all honesty, I’m staying away from any place that might be showing the NCAA basketball tourney. After UVA’s humiliating defeat, basketball is dead to me. My plan is to never watch another basketball game, ever again. Anyway, once you get past that, Big Al has some great nightly specials. For instance, Monday night is Burger Night. Grab a burger with chips for just $4. On Thursday nights, wings are just 60 cents each and on Wednesday you can rip Al off for a steak and baked potato for just $8.99. That’s an 8-ounce sirloin filet.
WHO’S READY FOR SOME MUSIC: Before I give you my rundown for weekend entertainment, I just want to mention that I stopped by Cary Street Café yesterday. They’re located at 2631 W. Cary, just east of the Boulevard. Did you know they have live music every day, seven days a week, starting at around 4 p.m. Check out their calendar. They have one of my favorite local bands playing this Saturday afternoon (see below)
Thursday, March 29
Rare Olde Times – 7:30 The Jangling Reinharts
The Wine Loft – 8 Acoustic with the inimitable Kari Smith
Friday, March 30
County Seat – 7 Steve Bassett – definitely one of Richmond’s finest musicians ever.
Old Towne’s Alibi – 8:30 One of the most fun bands that you’ll ever want to hear – Cha Cha’s Cadillac
O’Toole’s – 8 This week’s Tater sighting will be at O’Toole’s.
The Wine Loft – 8 Folk, funk and groove from Scott Varney
Saturday, March 31
Cary Street Café – 2 p.m. Tin Can Fish Band
That’s all for this week. Don’t forget, there’s still time to get in on our favorite hot dog contest. Tell us where you go for your favorite hot dog in Richmond and you just might win a valuable dining certificate. Go to RichmondNavigator.com/contests.