Gone are the days of DIY metal and punk rock shows at 1309 W. Main Street. The building that once housed Nara Sushi is now entering a new era of sports, pool tables, and really good hot dogs.
Locally owned Shockoe Slip hotdog joint City Dogs, is opening a new location.
The new restaurant, called City Dogs in The Fan, is located at 1309 W. Main Street, only blocks from VCU’s Monroe Park campus. Doors open today, just in time to make use of that outdoor patio.
Once home to Nara Sushi, known for hosting underground metal and punk rock shows, City Dogs owners said little similarities will remain.
Cliff Irby and Larry Boykin, co-owners, said they will not be following in Nara’s footsteps by continuing to host DIY shows. Irby said they hope to have live performances by musicians, but they will be of different genres than those typical of Nara.
“We will have bands, but I don’t know the strategy yet,” said Irby. “We are going to have something somewhat similar but maybe not to the extreme [Nara] had it before.”
The restaurant will have a sports bar feel with a completely new look, making it unrecognizable to those familiar with Nara.
“We want to emulate the standard that has already been established under the brand of City Dogs down in the Slip,” Boykin said.
A full bar, basement game room, and exposed kitchen are all things customers can expect from the new Main Street location. The game room will have pool tables, shuffleboard, electronic games, and televisions.
“We’re going to try and have a combination that will hopefully fit everybody’s tastes,” Irby said.
Customers can also expect television access to most major athletic events, including NFL Sunday Ticket.
With a menu touting vegan and vegetarian options as well as famous American city themed ‘dogs, Irby and Boykin said their aim is for the whole community to feel welcome. Even though the new location seems optimal for students, Irby and Boykin said they want to serve the entire community – Fan residents, business people, and students alike.
“The community embraced our first location, and it’s atypical to have that growth vehicle,” said Boykin. “We’re really creating a fun, safe environment for everyone to enjoy.”
The original City Dogs location started out serving only on the first floor, but as business increased they expanded into their basement. The restaurant’s lower level now houses a small game room and sports bar equipped for customer overflow.
Irby said he thinks of the Shockoe Slip location as having an environment like that of 1980’s television show, Cheers.
“It’s the kind of place where everyone knows your name – you’re greeted as soon as you come in and our staff is very friendly,” Irby said.
He said he hopes City Dogs in the Fan will have the same feel as the first location.
“For folks in the [restaurant] business, it’s all about how much money they make and expenses,” Irby said. “We’re aware of all of that, but it’s really going to be about the customer experience.”