BlowToad closes, Rappahannock opens, and Secco’s new expansion

We hear from Jimmy Sneed about BlowToad closing, two highly anticipated new restaurants open, and Secco’s new space for parties and events is available for the holidays.

The big dining news of the week is that BlowToad is closed. Jimmy Sneed’s Carytown spot, located across from The Byrd, opened in February with a focus on brick oven pizzas and an impressive beer menu. Sneed is an award winning Richmond chef best known for The Frog and The Redneck, which he ran in Shockoe Bottom from 1993 to 2001. The Frog and the Redneck is said to be one of the restaurants that really got the Richmond food scene moving in the right direction. has the email Sneed sent to the staff announcing the closing:

First, you guys are awesome. We have a terrific restaurant that has gotten better every week. There are so many rumors about us shutting down that I believe it is affecting business. I know that it is affecting staff with several of you having given notice. With the loss of staff and the ongoing situation I have decided to close BlowToad effective today. I will be in touch to discuss your individual situations and will gladly help each of you find another job. This breaks my heart. In the event I can find another investor I would love to reopen soon, either here or another location. I would be proud to have any of you work with me again.

Best, Jimmy

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Peacock’s Pantry located in The Fan has changed from a Thursday – Sunday dinner spot to a private event space and catering business. Owners John Purcell and Elizabeth Lee, who both have regular 9-to-5 jobs, felt that their customer base was more interested in using Lee’s dishes for private party use. They might transition the space back into a restaurant, but for now feel the change is the best financial decision.

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Last week, we found out that Jami Bohdan had purchased The Empress from former owner Melissa Barlow. Bohdan is currently the executive manager at both The Republic and Metro Grill, but is transitioning into the new restaurant, which will be called Savory Grain and Drafthouse. She hopes to open by mid-January. The new restaurant will feature a chalkboard menu geared toward new American cuisine and will have 24 beers on draft.

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Saison, the new restaurant in Jackson Ward, is officially open today! The menu is centered around a Southern and Central American cuisine with a certified Cicerone serving 24 craft beers along with an extensive cocktail menu. The restaurant is located at 23 W. Marshall Street. It’s current hours are:

  • Tuesday – Thursday and Sunday • 4:00 PM – 12:00 AM
  • Friday and Saturday • 4:00 PM – 2:00 AM

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Rappahannock is ALSO open today! Hooray! Last week we said it would be Wednesday the 12th, but you know how that whole permit game goes. As of lunchtime yesterday, the restaurant had about 81 reservations, so you can tell that these guys have a pretty fantastic reputation for good eats. We recommend you go ahead and make your reservations as well. If you run into a wait for your table don’t fret, there’s prosecco on tap at the bar. It really doesn’t get better than that! Rappahannock is located at 320 E. Grace Street.

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If you’re a procrastinator and are scrambling for a last minute event space for a holiday party, Secco is going to save your behind. We all shed a tear when we found out that River City Cellars would be closing, but they have made good on their promise to keep the wine and beer flowing in that space by expanding the adjacent Secco. The Room at Secco is now officially open for events and private parties, and is currently taking reservations. You can check out their blog for details on how to get your next event or party booked.

photo by West of the Boulevard News

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  1. Jimmy Snead = Most overrated chef in history of Richmond. I’ll never understand why he is always such a favorite of the Richmond media.

  2. schlep on said:

    Two words: bull testicles.

  3. South Barton on said:

    he is well respected outside of richmond as well. Infact every Kitchen I worked in in NYC, I got” Oh your from richmond, did you work for Jimmy Sneed?” Maybe he gave us a little bit of credibility before otherwise we had any nationally. What i don’t under stand is, how can Saison be southern american and south american and not be fusion?

  4. Janet on said:

    Well known does not equal well respected. Snead has done a wonderful job of self promotion. I’d love to know how many of those people actually ate at one of his restaurants.

  5. Jimmy Sneed’s e-mail to his staff blames rumors and staff quitting for his restaurant closing. Those things are a part of every restaurant, that’s like saying “everyone is out to get me….. and it’s working!!!!!” I’ve learned over the years that not every venture makes it, even good ones. AND, people who always fix blame , never fix problems. That is all

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