All things considered, Austin Green, co-owner of Hatch Cafe RVA and executive director of Hatch Kitchen RVA, knew that now wasn’t the best time to open a restaurant.
But he figured, why wait?
“We could just do nothing for an indefinite period of time or we can just try something,” Green said.
The cafe — a new venture from Hatch Kitchen, a 24-hour food and beverage incubator in South Richmond that acts as a steppingstone for those getting their start in the food industry — made sense when it came to next steps.
It opened in early August.
The cafe’s been a part of the Hatch Kitchen’s plan since its initial creation, said Green, also the co-founder of Hatch Kitchen, which opened in the Clopton Siteworks complex off Maury Street in early 2019.
The original idea for the cafe was to not only have a place where patrons and Hatch members could eat on site, but a place for Hatch Kitchen to hold events like classes, seminars and pop-ups.
But soon after the start of its 11 a.m.-to-2 p.m. lunch hour on Tuesday, the cafe’s quiet.
Ryan Evans, the cafe’s co-owner and director of kitchen operations for Hatch Kitchen, says it’s usually like that or full of people. There hasn’t been much advertising beyond Instagram and speaking with the news media, but they’re working on fliers and trying to target businesses in the area.
The unpredictability, he said, has made it hard to plan.
The space carries an air of simplicity. Wooden beams flank the white walls up to high ceilings. White subway tiles glimmer against silver kitchenware and floating shelves.
Simplicity seeps onto the menu, which Evans created. He chose to go simple, and most items are locally sourced.
“I wanted it to be like a certain caliber of food because, you know, we’re feeding other chefs and food industry folks, but to also still be somewhat approachable to like everybody in the vicinity,” Evans said.
While conservative on its surface, Green said the menu items are elevated.
The grilled cheese features a spiced tomato jam, feta and Gruyère. Hatch Cafe’s vegetarian option, an eggplant sandwich, has been called baba ghanouj on a sandwich, Green said. Sandwiches sell for $7 to $12.
Other menu options includes a weekly soup special, a summer salad, potato chips as a side and two types of ice cream sandwiches.
Its current minimal makeup has to do with figuring out the cafe’s future amid the pandemic, Evans said. Eventually, Green said they hope to expand and rotate the menu.
The space is large and can accommodate plenty of diners, but only seven tables are set up with a few chairs. Events, originally supposed to be a primary function of the space, are now obsolete.
The pandemic has blown the original plan to pieces.
“We can’t do any of that,” Green said. “We’re running into the same problems any restaurant or event space would have at the moment, which is pretty much every problem you could imagine. Honestly, we’re just sort of trying to find ways to wait it out.”