Richmond restaurant stalwart Lee Gregory has been named as the first chef in residence for Hatch Local, the food hall that’s opening in the Manchester area of South Richmond in October where hungry patrons can graze from a variety of stalls serving up everything from fresh seafood and hot chicken sandwiches to pasta, tacos and more.
Similar in concept — although on a smaller scale — to Philadelphia’s Reading Terminal Market and Union Market in Washington where food vendors of all kinds are brought under one roof, Hatch Local will be located in Manchester inside The Current, a mixed-use development under construction at 400 Hull St.
Hatch Local is a partnership between Richmond-based Lynx Ventures, which is developing The Current, and Hatch Kitchen RVA, a commercial kitchen in Richmond that caters to startup food businesses.
Shannon Conway, Hatch vice president of operations, said the intent all along was to infuse the food hall with a wide range of not only food choices, but culinary experience, from those just starting out in the industry to Richmond’s restaurant legends. Conway said the vision was that one stall within the space would be given to a chef in residence for a designated amount of time, anywhere from three months to a year.
They approached Gregory — the man behind The Roosevelt and Alewife restaurants — because “he has really great concepts that resonate with Richmond,” she said.
Gregory agreed to a one-year stint, and he’s using it to try a concept called Odyssey Fish. He described it as a “more accessible Alewife,” with seafood dishes ranging from $10 to $18. He said despite being a veteran in Richmond’s restaurant scene, developing new concepts can be daunting. Having the food hall serve as testing grounds for new ideas — rather than opening a full-fledged restaurant — is appealing.
“Even for me, it’s still very, very scary to do anything new,” he said. But “these kinds of things are a really cool way to dip your toe in ... and grow my own company in what feels like a much safer, smaller step.”
That, and he’s looking forward to being part of an energized atmosphere where everyone around him has fresh ideas. The daily grind of running restaurants isn’t nearly as exciting as the early stages of developing one, he said, and he’s looking forward to being back in an environment with others who are similarly passionate.
“For me, having been around the block,” he said, “that energy ... it’s a neat thing to be a part of.”
Seven vendors will fill Hatch Local in addition to Gregory’s Odyssey Fish, including Lillie Pearl’s Buttermilk + Honey (fried chicken sandwiches, collard greens and mac ’n cheese); Sincero (tacos, flautas, tostadas); Oro (pasta) and Fat Kid Sandwiches, plus two other vendors that will be coming on board soon.
The Current development will have 215 apartments, 70,000 square feet of office space, 16,000 square feet of retail space and a public parking garage with 323 spaces.
The development is taking up the block bounded by Hull, East Fourth, East Fifth and Decatur streets in two buildings. The five-story apartment building will wrap around most of the block along East Fourth and Decatur streets. The six-story office building will front Hull Street closest to Fifth Street.
The food hall will be split between the two buildings in the development, with about half in the apartment building and half in the office building, with a courtyard between the two.
In addition to the food, Hatch Local will have two bars, one of which will be a coffee shop that transitions to a beer and wine bar in the evenings.