Empress gets a new owner, Metro Grill owner gets sued, and VA’s largest indoor beer fest

After closing in July, the Empress has a new owner who plans to re-open the restaurant early next year, two people file suit against a well-known restaurant, and this Saturday RVA will host the Commonwealth’s largest indoor beer fest.

The Empress has a new owner. Jami Bohdan, current executive manager of The Republic and Metro Grill, purchased the restaurant from Melissa Barlow and is hoping to have the restaurant open by January 15th. The new incarnation of The Empress will serve American cuisine with a focus on craft beers, and Bohdan is currently in the process of hiring a head chef to oversee the kitchen. Barlow will help with the transition, and will continue to serve as a consultant for catering operations. The Republic’s manager, Tony Hawkins, says he is excited to be sharing the block with Bohdan.

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Speaking of Metro Grill and Tony Hawkins, Bizsense is reporting that co-owners Richard Masters and Travis Bacile filed suit Nov. 16th against Hawkins, Metro Grill’s majority owner. Masters and Bacile are accusing Hawkins of funneling money from Metro Grill into The Republic, which Hawkins also owns, and state they have not seen a profit/loss statement or been paid from any profits since April when they purchased the Robinson Street bar. The Republic filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy in July because the restaurant owed $300,000 in back taxes. The two are seeking hundreds of thousands dollars in damages with counts of fraud, breach of contract, and negligence along with a refund from their initial investment into the restaurant.

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Rappahannock, the Richmond restaurant owned by the guys behind Rappahannock River Oysters as well as the Merroir Tasting Room, is officially set to open on Wednesday, December 12th. The restaurant will feature two shucking stations, 12 beers on tap, prosecco, and judging from the samples we’ve had from Chef Dylan Fultineer, diners are in for a real treat. As we countdown to December 12th, feel free to reminisce on the business lessons we learned from the Croxton cousins.

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LuLu’s, which recently cut its hours to just weekend brunch, will now be open Wednesday through Friday for lunch from 11:00 AM to 2:30 PM. The revised lunch menu can be seen on their Facebook page.

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We all love a good local beer festival, but chilly weather makes it a little tougher to comfortably sling beers. Richmond has officially solved this First World problem in a big way. This Saturday marks the first annual Holiday Beer and Cheer Classic. And in the true meaning of go-big-or-go-home, it’s already been named Virginia’s largest indoor beer festival with over 25 craft beers up for tasting and 15 local breweries on site.

Even better news is that both admission and parking is FREE. Head out to the Meadow Event Park between 12:00 – 7:00 PM on Saturday, December 8th to get in on the action. You can try 2 oz tastings for just a $1 each, 12 oz pours for $6 each, or grab the value pack of 12 tastings for just $10. To keep you safe, law firm Allen, Allen, Allen, & Allen as well as Napoleon Taxi will be offering free rides every hour between 4:00 and 8:00 PM back to Richmond. More event details and a list of breweries is available on their website.

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  1. The new Empress better still have gluten-free food. In any case, I’m excited!

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