A new food hall is being planned for the Manchester area of South Richmond that will showcase the culinary works of local restaurants and chefs as well as members of Hatch Kitchen RVA.
The food hall, called Hatch Local, will occupy about 8,500 square feet of space in The Current mixed-use development, which is under construction at 400 Hull St. The goal is to open the food hall in the spring, possibly around the same time as the offices and apartments open.
Lynx Ventures, the Richmond company developing The Current, is working with Hatch Kitchen RVA, a commercial kitchen in Richmond that caters to startup food businesses, to open the food hall.
Plans call for Hatch Local to sign multiple food vendors, with seven vendors selling their products at the food hall at any one time. Different chefs and food businesses will have a presence there on a rotating basis.
The food hall also will have two bars, one of which will be a coffee shop that transitions to a beer and wine bar in the evenings. It also will have a courtyard dining area.
“This is another extension of what Hatch [Kitchen] does,” said Austin Green, executive director of Hatch Kitchen RVA, which provides commercial kitchen space, offices, storage space, mentoring and advisory services for dozens of startup food businesses at its location in the Clopton Siteworks on Maury Street. The Clopton Siteworks also is being developed by Lynx Ventures.
The Hatch Local food hall will provide a venue for startup food businesses to introduce their products to the public, while also showcasing the culinary works of some well-established Richmond-area chefs along with visiting chefs from outside the area who could set up temporary operations there, Green said.
“Coming out of the pandemic, we will create an opportunity for small startup businesses to get in front of the public for a relatively inexpensive investment of money,” he said. “We see it as another way of incubating food concepts in Richmond.”
The food hall, Green said, could be a launching pad for food creators who cannot access the capital needed to open a full-scale restaurant right now, given the current economic climate during the COVID-19 pandemic. More than 50 restaurants in the Richmond region have closed for good since the start of the pandemic.
“There are so many expenses that go into operating a standalone restaurant. That will not be barriers to entry at Hatch Local,” Green said.
Hatch Local already has signed several food vendors and is actively recruiting others, he said.
One of the established Richmond chefs who will offer food at Hatch Local is Michael Lindsey, the former executive chef and director of culinary operations for EAT Restaurant Partners, the largest independent restaurant group in the Richmond area. Lindsey and his wife, Kimberly Love-Lindsey, opened the Lillie Pearl restaurant at 416 E. Grace St. in downtown Richmond in November.
Their culinary offerings at Hatch Local will be drawn from Lillie Pearl’s Buttermilk + Honey menu, which includes a variety of chicken sandwiches and chicken tenders, as well as sides such as macaroni and cheese, collard greens and French fries.
“We will focus more on fried chicken sandwiches and chicken tenders, keeping it pretty straightforward and simple,” Michael Lindsey said.
The food hall concept, he said, is a good idea for the Manchester area and especially for a mixed-use development with offices and apartments.
“I think the way Hatch Local is set up will definitely lend to what a food hall can be, with that amount of residents there 24/7, and then the business clientele there during business hours Monday through Friday,” he said.
Green said Lillie Pearl’s Buttermilk + Honey menu is “a good representation of what we are going for, which is thoughtful food.”
“When we talk about high-quality food, we don’t necessarily mean expensive food,” he said. “We are going to be an entity in the area where people can come get an affordable meal.”
The Current is a mixed-use development that 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.
“The food hall is perfect for a mixed-use project like this,” said John Gregory, a principal with Lynx Ventures. “There are people there 24/7. It is a great amenity for the apartments and for the office building. It is the right location here in Richmond. In Manchester, you have a lot of great things within walking distance — the river and other developments. It is a central location.”
“It is really a showcase for all the culinary talent we have in the Richmond region,” Gregory said.
Leasing for the apartments and offices in The Current is expected to start in February or March.
“We have had a lot of interest in the office space, particularly recently as the news about the food hall has come out,” Gregory said.