Food News: The end of an era in the Fan, and RVA’s storied restaurant scene

This week: It’s the end of an era–and a new beginning–at Commercial Taphouse in the Fan. Plus, The Luncheonette opened this week, and we’ve got some interesting–and intricate–stories of how a few of our fair city’s latest establishments came to be.

As the summer comes to a close, so too does a chapter in RVA craft beer history. Commercial Taphouse, a Robinson Street staple since 1993–and arguably the first real taphouse in town–will be in the (very capable) hands of Mekong’s An Bui as of this week. The A sendoff for longtime owner James Talley is set for tonight. The Times-Dispatch’s RVA Beer Guy, Lee Graves, has the bittersweet scoop.

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“We’re not a sports bar and we’re not a pool hall – we want to show the beauty and poetry of the game.” That’s what Jim Gottier, owner of Greenleaf’s Pool Room, says of his new upscale establishment that opened this week downtown. Opening in Richmond was almost by accident, as’s Karri Peifer discovered during a recent interview with Gottier. As far as the food goes, he describes the menu as “update 1930s luncheonette.”

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Speaking of luncheonettes, The Luncheonette finally opened this week in Shockoe Bottom–a place a whopping three and a half years in the making! Originally slated to open in 2011, the 18th Street establishment, run by the same owner as neighboring Margaritas Cantina, suffered a number of setbacks, but that’s all history now. Expect to find classic diner-style fare, blue plate specials, and everything under $10.

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Nathan Cushing has the story of Lucy’s, a newcomer that’s been stirring things up in Jackson Ward since January. Husband and wife duo Jason and Amanda Lucy are out to “make comfort food new again” with dishes like the Meatless Meatball Sub with house made artichoke, Mac & Pork with pan-seared pork loin with a mustard jus and crispy sage, and Baxter’s Beef with slow-braised, pulled Monrovia Farm Beef on ciabatta, melted provolone, house made pickles, whole grain mustard-ayonaise.

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A bevy of Richmond breweries took home hardware following this past weekend’s Virginia Craft Brewer’s Cup at Devils Backbone Brewery in Nelson County. Ardent Craft Ales, Center of the Universe Brewing Co., Midnight Brewery, Hardywood Park Craft Brewery, Legend Brewing Co., Strangeways Brewing, and Triple Crossing Brewery were all bestowed with honors. Here’s the lowdown on who won, and where to get these award-winning beers around town.

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Many say gin is an acquired taste (the closest thing I like to gin are the Gin Blossoms), but did you know we now have our own gin distillery in town? Did you also know we may have a teenage girl to thank for it? Karri Peifer has the intricate story of how James River Distillery came to be and owner Jonathan Staples’ intricate ties with the local restaurant community. Hold on to your rocks glass, this one’s a doozy.

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Next month, 14 noted Virginia craft breweries and one winery will converge on Maymont for the Maymont Wine & Beer Classic on September 12th. Expect live music, cornhole, and raffle prizes galore. Tickets are $35 per person; $30 for Dooley Noted Society members; and $15 for designated drivers.

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SAVOR, a culinary evening benefitting the Hospital Hospitality House, is back for its sixth year in September. Award-winning chefs will come together on Saturday, September 20th at 6:00 PM for one delicious night. This year’s chefs include Maneet Chauhan, Food Network star and judge on “Chopped”; Michael Friedman, co-owner of The Red Hen in Washington, D.C.; and Caleb Shriver & Philip Perrow co-owners of Dutch & Company. Tickets are a bit pricey, starting at $300, but hey, it’s for a good cause!

Photo: Lucy’s Restaurant

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Trevor Dickerson

Trevor Dickerson loves all things Richmond and manages RVANews’ West of the Boulevard and West End community sites.

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