RICHMOND, Va. (WRIC) — Two new, minority-owned food concepts are coming to Richmond’s historic Jackson Ward neighborhood in 2022, including the first grocery market in the area’s northside.
This is part of a mixed-use development, which includes 5,400 square feet of retail space, in addition to 154 housing units, located at 701 N 1st Street.
According to Matt Engel, Director of Real Estate Development for Enterprise Community Development, one food concept is a fast casual, Asian restaurant out of Norfolk, Va., called Roll Wit It. Engel said that there will be outdoor seating.
“We think this is going to be really successful because that Jackson Ward location is very close to the Bio+Tech Park and a number of employers and we think it will be a popular destination for people to get food,” Engel said.
The second food concept is a small, gourmet market, one of three opening in the City of Richmond under business partners Ezaddin Alshami and Faizal Surti.
“There’s no walkable grocery store within that portion of the neighborhood,” Engel said. “So we think it’ll be really successful.”
Together, Engel estimated that both food concepts will bring about 20 jobs to the area.
“The best way to hire people is to go and look within the inner circle. What I mean by that is the people who we have already working for us are the best sales people to bring us good quality new hires,” Alshami said. “Give people incentives, flexible hours, good pay and treat them like they are part-owners. This strategy has worked for us for many years and through this recession, we never have a problem with staffing.”
Alshami said that the Northside Gourmet Market is also teaming up with Starbucks Mini, which will offer a small Starbucks kiosk, serving up many of the same drinks that can be purchased at a full-size Starbucks right in Jackson Ward.
“We’re unlike a big-box grocery store but much more than a convenient store,” Alshami said. “We’re excited to bring our concept to Jackson Ward and to serve a community that has been a food desert for far too long.”
Engel said that the $34 million project to build 154 units in Jackson Ward’s northside began with a request from the city to replace some aging public housing units.
“We did that on the site,” he said. “But we also built a number of market-rate units and residential retail, in part, to respond to some of the things that the community of Jackson Ward wanted. We worked very closely with the neighborhood association, the Historic Jackson Ward Association, and they really wanted to see neighborhood-serving retail, as well as housing.”
The space opened at the end of 2020. Engel said that the food concepts are set to open in the first quarter of 2022.
“Between now and 2022, they will be getting their permits and plans approved, and be building out the space to get it ready for opening,” he said.
According to Engel, the two businesses will bring much-needed food concepts to the northside of Jackson Ward.
“That portion of the neighborhood was hurt by the construction of the highway in 1958 and there is a lack of retail options and a fair amount of vacant land,” Engel said. “This will be the first grocery concept in the north Jackson Ward. It will serve folks from Jackson Ward and from Gilpin Court on the other side of the freeway, and it also will be the first fast casual restaurant on that side of the Ward.”