Carytown should be getting its first rooftop bar, restaurant and event space this summer.
The owners of the New York Deli, a Carytown fixture since the 1930s, plan to build the rooftop space on top of its restaurant building at 2920 W. Cary St. and on top of the Bygones Vintage Clothing store at 2916 W. Cary St.
The space would be used for dining, drinking and hosting weddings, live music and movies, said Demetrios Tsiptsis, one of the restaurant’s co-owners.
Initial work has started, he said. Plans call for the rooftop event space to be ready in August.
The space would come equipped with a large movie screen affixed to the side of the Byrd Theatre with a small stage in front of it on the Bygones part of the building. That part of the space could be used to show movies as well as personal slideshows and videos for weddings and to conduct business gatherings or fashion shows or drag shows.
The deli’s owners — Tsiptsis; his wife, Charlene; his brother, Rodion Tsiptsis; and David Zemlan — started raising money Wednesday on the crowdfunding website Kickstarter to help pay for most of the project’s costs.
The Kickstarter campaign hopes to raise $145,000 toward the $166,000 cost of the project, Tsiptsis said. As of Wednesday evening, the campaign had raised more than $13,500 in pledges from more than 80 backers.
“This is just a way to get this thing built. We don’t have the money for this, thus why we are asking the community for support,” Tsiptsis said.
“We’ve already taken out a $25,000 loan, so we’re committed to doing this,” he said, noting that the owners have paid DynQuest Properties, a Richmond construction company, the money to begin construction plans, permitting and architectural drawings.
If the campaign raises more, he and the co-owners have additional ideas to improve the space, including possibly adding a retractable awning.
“If we raise more than that, we’re not going to turn anyone away,” he said. “We can then take that money, and we can add this or add that. There’s a lot more we can do to spruce it up.”
The project calls for moving the HVAC system, adding stairs, and putting down a deck on the roof. Safety glass railings will be installed along the edges of the building to provide patrons with views of Cary Street.
Tsiptsis, who was part of the ownership group that bought the deli in 2005, has always wanted to add a rooftop bar and restaurant.
“I always had thought about this in the back of my mind,” he said, remembering watching a movie on the rooftop of a building in Athens, Greece, as a child while visiting his grandparents. “That was always something that kind of stuck in the back of my mind, and it was something I always wanted to do on the top of the deli.”
He wanted to wait to get the building paid off and save some money to pay for the project.
But the COVID-19 pandemic changed the restaurant landscape.
“With COVID, it’s now go harder or go home,” he said. “We do have a patio in the back of the business, and people like it. But it’s not very big, and it is in the back and not in the front. A lot of the business models have changed now with COVID where people are looking at outside options. So that’s when I started thinking, we have to do this.”
New York Deli is working on the project with the historic Byrd Theatre, which will handle showing the movies.
“When we do a movie, I’ll donate a percentage of my sales to the Byrd Theatre,” he said. “We’re not building a movie theater. We’re building a restaurant that has a movie screen with it.”
Rooftop bars have become the fad in the Richmond region in the last couple of years.
But Tsiptsis said that having one on top of the New York Deli will provide a different feel.
“When you’re up on top of one of the skyscrapers that has a rooftop bar, you get a beautiful view of the city. But you don’t have the vibe and the noise and the sounds coming from the street, and the murmur of the people walking down the sidewalk,” Tsiptsis said. “Where ours is only one story up, and you’re getting that kind of cool vibe from the street. You can look down, and you can see somebody and they can make eye contact with you as opposed to being up on the top of a skyscraper.”
As part of the Kickstarter campaign, those making pledges can get a reward in exchange. The pledges — which can be made at http://kck.st/3sX4itz — range in price from $25 (which gets two entrees) and $100 (family brunch or dinner with four rooftop movie tickets) to $3,000 (for a catered event on the rooftop and inside the restaurant for about 250 people).