Posted on Leave a comment

How to Optimize Your Restaurant’s Google My Business Listing

The days of hungry people driving down the street looking for a restaurant to try are gone. Now, people turn to the internet; specifically, Google, to help them find the perfect place to eat. 

Google has become the go-to source for people discovering new restaurants. This is because an increase of 46% of Google searches are now locally focused. These searches often consist of adding terms like “near me” or “in [City Name]” onto the end of the search phrase to limit results to local businesses.

In this post, we’re going to focus on a tool every restaurant should be fully capitalizing on to successfully market their business online and increase their profitability — Google My Business.

What is Google My Business?

Google My Business (GMB) is a free and easy-to-use tool that allows you to promote your business online through Google. With GMB, you create a Business Profile for your restaurant, and it helps connect you with customers on Google Search and Maps. 

Why Is It Important?

Local search SEO (search engine optimization) on Google is one of the most powerful tools to increase your restaurant’s online visibility and attract new customers. 

When people are in a hurry to find answers, they rely on the top of the search engine results that Google gives them. So, no matter how great your restaurant’s website is, you may still fail to capture curious consumers if they see outdated information in your GMB listing.

Creating and maintaining your Google My Business profile is well worth the effort since it comes with a whole host of benefits, including increasing your business’s visibility and making a more positive, powerful first impression.

The Top 8 Google My Business Features for Restaurants

Hopefully, you’ve already claimed your GMB listing and added your necessary business information. Your Business Profile should have your restaurant’s name, address, phone number, and hours. 

This is a great place to start, but there are plenty of other opportunities to enhance your GMB listing.

Let’s go over GMB features you should take advantage of. These will help increase your online exposure, search ranking, and customer base.

1. Description

The first feature that will enhance your listing is adding a business description. This section is your opportunity to tell people what makes your restaurant unique. Here are a few talking points you should consider including in your description:

  • Cuisine: First, make sure you tell customers what kind of food you serve. Does your restaurant serve a regional cuisine like Chinese or Indian? Or a fusion cuisine like Tex-Mex? Also, make sure to include a specialized cuisine like vegan or gluten-free if it applies to you. Here is where you want to let diners know what kind of food they can expect to find on your menu. Stating your cuisine plays a significant role in people’s results for ‘near me’ searches. 
  • Atmosphere: What’s the atmosphere or vibe in your restaurant? Are you a fast-casual joint, a quaint cafe, or an upscale restaurant? The atmosphere of a restaurant is just as important to many people as the food they serve. 

The maximum length is 750 characters, but it will be shortened if you write a longer description. Be sure to frontload the most crucial information, but try to keep it brief and to-the-point. 

Here’s a screenshot of what Magnolia Table’s GMB listing looks like for reference to the right. Their description showcases their garden-to-table cuisine, hip vibe and is straightforward. 

2. Reservations & Ordering

Another great way to optimize your GMB listing is using the reservation feature. The reservation feature allows you to include a booking link in your profile.

Adding a booking button to your GMB listing is an excellent way to streamline your guests’ reservation process. You want to have an online reservation system that integrates with Google, such as CAKE’s Guest Manager

Take a look below and notice that the booking times shown are from the restaurant’s reservations system through Guest Manager.

Similarly, GMB listings have also become a place where guests can order food online. Your restaurant’s online ordering system link can also be on your GMB profile. With this, GMB becomes a customer’s one-stop-shop for whatever they need to do to enjoy your restaurant’s food.

3. Menu

Did you know 93% of people look at online menus? Because of this, your restaurant needs to be using the menu feature on GMB. There are two different ways you can use this feature. 

The first method is to insert a direct link to your menu page on your website, as Magnolia Table does above. 

Another method is adding a menu button that will list out your food and drink items. The menu editor lets you add, edit names, descriptions, and prices. It even enables you to break up your menus by categories, such as cocktails, appetizers, and entrees. 

In this area, customers can also add menu photos that will appear above the listed menu. We will show an example in the next section!

4. Photos and Videos

If you want to get people’s attention, you should add some visual interest to your listing in the form of photos and videos.

These visuals don’t have to be of the food itself, though pictures of your most visually appealing dishes are certainly a great thing to feature. People also like seeing pictures of your restaurant’s exterior and interior so they can get an idea of what the seating and atmosphere are.

When you add pictures or videos to your GMB listing, Google will ask you to categorize the photo. For example, you could identify a picture of your restaurant’s front as an exterior photo of the business. 

Here are Magnolia’s featured menu photos on top of their listed menu. As you can see, a lot of these features complement each other and work together to showcase your restaurant’s best offerings. 

This allows people to click on categories of images and videos. It is helpful when there are many visuals associated with your restaurant listing, and they’re looking for something in particular.

Anyone can add pictures and videos of your business online, which will show up in your Google My Business listing. But don’t worry — you can control the visuals people see first when they Google your restaurant. You can also flag a photo for removal if it was actually taken at a different restaurant or is somehow inappropriate.

5. Posts

An underutilized feature of Google My Business that you don’t want to miss out on is Google posts. This feature allows you to create and share announcements. 

Think of these posts as social media status updates. Google Posts can include text, images, and even call-to-action buttons. 

Not sure what to post about on GMB? Here are some ideas:

  • Events: You can post about upcoming events like virtual cooking classes or live music. 
  • General updates: Update your customers on the latest COVID restrictions and safety precautions. Open for dine-in or only take-out? Whatever the update, let customers know.
  • Promotions: Let people know about any special promotions or discounts you have going on in Google Posts. Feature your seasonal menu items and limited-time offers.

6. Q&A Section

The Q&A section on your Google My Business listing is where any user can post a question about your restaurant. With this feature, anyone can also post answers in response. So, it would be best if you closely watched this section to provide fast and accurate responses. You can do this most effectively through the GMB app.

Q&A’s will stay on your listing, so you want to provide thorough answers that future users will find helpful. Also, it’s important to pay attention to the questions people ask. It can give you insight into details you may want to add to your website or social media profiles. For example, if you’re an ice cream parlor and someone asks whether you offer any dairy-free options, you may want to identify dairy-free items on your online menu.

7. Reviews

GMB lets customers review your business through your listing and enables you to respond to them. It is imperative to respond to both good and bad reviews as much as you can. 

Why is this important? 93% of consumers say online reviews influence their purchase decisions. 

Reviews help build your credibility, and customers tend to prefer businesses that engage with them.

8. Insights

Last but certainly not least, is the insights feature. Once you have your listing created, you’ll get a dashboard with invaluable data on your customer’s activity.  

Suppose you’re curious about how many people are booking tables through GMB. In that case, you can look at your booking history through your scheduling provider, which should let you know what percentage of reservations were made directly through your GMB listing.

Google Insights gives you several different ways to understand how customers interact with your listing. Here’s a list from Google:

GMB provides answers to all these actions and requests. This insight can help you see what strategies are working and which need some attention. 

Google My Business Updates for COVID

The COVID-19 pandemic has caused many businesses to deal with shutdowns, limited opening, and operations have changed indefinitely. Luckily, with GMB, you can communicate these changes with your customers ahead of time. 

The newest addition to GMB is the healthy & safety attribute in your listing. In this section, businesses can let their customers know about the safety measures they are enforcing, such as: 

  • Masks required for customers or staff
  • Temperature checks required for customers or staff
  • Appointments or reservations required

Another update within your listing you can use is the COVID-19 Post. With so many changes due to lockdowns, this post type will let you update your customers, and Google labels it as “COVID-19 related information.”

If you have a temporarily closed restaurant location, you should make this update in GMB as well. 

Takeaway

Adding the necessary information like your address and hours to GMB is only scratching the surface of what it can do to help you market your restaurant effectively and pull in new customers. 

Utilize GMB to its fullest potential by adding the features above to your Business Profile. Hungry diners will have all the information they need to go straight from their phone to your restaurant. 

Posted on Leave a comment

RVA Food News & Events!

Article originally appeared on RichmondMagazine.com.

Pizza_eileen-mellon.jpg
From “bar-style” pies to loaded hot dogs and plant-based junk food, check out the lineup of pop-ups and weekend events below. (Photo by Eileen Mellon

Sweet Carolina

Boasting a culinary diary packed with stories rooted in the Southern coastal states, Robyn Carter of Carolina Girl Catering offers a one-way ticket to the low country via shrimp and grits, gumbo, and more comfort-food classics. A North Carolina native, Carter relocated to Richmond from Austin, Texas, and is connecting with her new community through pop-up events and, eventually, a brick-and-mortar restaurant. (Richmond magazine)

For the Love of Diners

Reliable sources for wallet-friendly dishes, breakfast all day and retro mugs brimming with coffee from bottomless pots — a few of my favorite things — diners are a special place. Writer Genevelyn Steele also has heart-eyes for these old-school haunts, recently tracking down some local go-tos for chocolate-chip pancakes, burgers, fried fish and more. (Richmond magazine)

Take Pride

These Richmond neighborhoods are throwing a double dose of pride celebrations this Saturday, Sept. 18.

Returning for year three, the Scott’s Addition Pride Crawl kicks off at noon and features over a dozen of the neighborhood’s boozy businesses from The Veil Brewing Co. to Blue Bee Cider. Snag a passport to keep track of your libation journey, which grants access to a special drawing.

In Carytown, make pride pit stops at the legendary watering hole and karaoke dance palace Babe’s for dollar-off drinks, or head to Pho Luca’s for discounted apps to soak up all the hooch. Bonus: Also joining the Carytown Pride Crawl is Safe Space Market

Cooking and Comedy 

Beloved food nerd Alton Brown makes a return to Richmond on Oct. 28 during his fall tour, “Beyond the Eats.” Catch the Bill Nye of the culinary world and longtime host of shows including “Iron Chef America” and “Good Eats” at the Carpenter Theatre for a show that promises a smorgasbord of cooking, comedy and audience interaction. Tickets go on sale Friday, Sept. 17, at 10 a.m.

ICYMI

Richmond is home to the first-ever winner of Food Network’s “Ben & Jerry’s: Clash of the Cones.” Impressing judges from Ben and Jerry to rapper Ludacris, the owner of North Side’s Ruby Scoops recently took home the ice cream crown. (Richmond magazine)

Initially introducing a menu dedicated to fried chicken at their downtown restaurant Lillie Pearl, husband-and-wife duo Mike Lindsey and Kimberly Love-Lindsey recently rolled out a Short Pump eatery that embraces the crispy concept: Buttermilk and Honey. (Richmond magazine)

The culinary director of craft butchery Jackie Wayne Beef Co. is a big fan of sustainability and Texas-style chill. (Richmond magazine)

Last call for tickets to the annual Birdhouse Market Farm Dinner on Sept. 19, a local feast presented by Richmond chefs featuring produce from area purveyors with proceeds benefiting the midweek market.

It seems good things come in threes at Bell Greek restaurant. With one location in Midlothian, and a second opened in Chester in 2018, the family-owned eatery is now eyeing the West End. Look for the third location to debut at 7011 Three Chopt Road in the coming months. (Richmond BizSense)

The market game is strong in Richmond, and another is planning to join the party. Look for DevoeDid Events to unveil a grab-and-go concept, the Southern-tinged market Hickory & Oak, in the months to come at 10614 Patterson Ave. Also on the market horizon: A project from Upper Shirley Vineyards’ Carlisle Bannister and a smoky venture from Redemption BBQ.

After a three-year run, Don’t Look Back South is shutting its doors. The last day to score a potato taco or crispy carnitas at that location is tentatively set for Oct. 30.

Upcoming Events

  • Fall Fest, Starr Hill Brewery (Sept. 16-19): Channel autumn vibes via an Oktoberfest lager and a maple brown ale.
  • Tim’s Pizza Pop-up, Hatch Cafe (Sept. 17): Friday pie day returns with a weekly dose of the pop-up that dishes out squares and rounds. 
  • Community Health Block Party, Brewer’s Cafe (Sept. 18): Free COVID-19 testing and vaccines (with coffee drinks and juice for those who get a shot) available during the two-hour event from 10 a.m. to noon
  • Brookland Park Block Party, Brookland Park Boulevard (Sept. 18): Shop, snack and sip the North Side neighborhood. Fun fact: Cherry-vanilla sarsaparilla floats are totally a thing at Ninja Kombucha.
  • Sincero Pop-up, The Veil Brewing Co. (Sept. 18): Tacos and beer
  • Texas BBQ Meat Market, The Smoky Mug (Sept. 18): Saturday, smoked meats, specialty cocktails
  • Sour Aesthetics Release, Hardywood Park Craft Brewery (Sept. 19): A special release of the collab between Hardywood and Uncap Everything — a sour ale with peach, guava and a twist of lime — featuring art and tunes
  • Pride Richmond Moon Market, Stone Brewing Co. (Sept. 19): A celebration of local LGBTQ+ makers with a portion of draft proceeds benefiting Diversity Richmond
  • Unlocking RVA Brunch on the Plaza, Kanawha Plaza (Sept. 19): Brunch takes on a whole new meaning during the outdoor dance and dine party.
  • Horne Dogs Pop-up Part Two, Don’t Look Back South (Sept. 20): Hot dogs all ways, from deep-fried to topped with baked beans
  • Uniquely Different Sweets, Publix Apron Cooking School (Sept. 23): Learn to whip up everything from baked Alaska to mango hand pies.
  • Plant-based Junk Food in Richmond, Vasen Brewing Co. (Sept. 23): National company Vuture Food brings the comfort with vegan chicken sandwiches and loaded fries.
Posted on Leave a comment

The Latest Food News in RVA!

Pinkys-risotto_eileen-mellon.jpg
If vegan risotto gets you excited, head below for the plant-based details surrounding this weekend’s Soul Vegan Block Party. (Photo by Eileen Mellon)

Post originally appeared on RichmondMagazine.com.

All of the latest and greatest food happenings and events around RVA you may have missed!

Dairy Queen 

Among the fans of local ice cream artisan Rabia Kamara’s cool concoctions? No big deal, just celebrities Kevin Bacon and Ludacris and the brains behind the Ben & Jerry’s empire. The VCU grad and co-owner of the North Side ice cream shop Ruby Scoops recently competed on and won Food Network’s “Ben & Jerry’s: Clash of the Cones” and has her eyes set on more sweet ventures in the future. (Richmond magazine)

Fry, Fry Again

Fried chicken is the star of the menu at the newly opened Buttermilk and Honey, a pandemic pivot turned pop-up success and now brick-and-mortar restaurant from husband-and-wife team Mike Lindsey and Kimberly Love-Lindsey. The owners of downtown’s Lillie Pearl and, more recently, Pop’s Market on Grace are giving us serious power couple vibes. (Richmond magazine)

Prime Cut

Dog treats, riffs on the sloppy Joe and ZZ Top may not be the first things that come to mind when one thinks of a craft butchery, but Jackie Wayne Beef Co. Culinary Director Garrett Eagleton says otherwise. Second in command at the local butcher and meat delivery service, Eagleton talks Texas chili, his relocation to Richmond and more meaty topics in our interview. (Richmond magazine)

Plant Power

After making its debut in 2019 and then having to cancel last year due to the pandemic, the plant-based party that aims to promote and diversify the vegan lifestyle is back. On Sept. 11, the Soul Vegan Block Party will host a five-hour event at Chimborazo Park that features a hefty lineup of plant-friendly eateries and vendors including Favour Cookie Co., SoulSmith Kombucha, Nomad Deli & Catering Co., 1115 Mobile Kitchen, and more. Come hungry, and come curious.

On the Farm Again

While their names may be familiar and their produce may be part of your weekly market haul, Real Local RVA’s 5th annual farm tour presents the opportunity to dig a little deeper with some area growers. Mark your calendars for Sept.18 and head to Mechanicsville’s Charlotte Acres — home to Shine Farms, Real Roots Food Systems and Hazel Witch Farm — for an outdoor nosh-and-learn session. Tickets are on sale now.

ICYMI

Get your croissant, cookie and challah on at the recently debuted Up All Night Bakery. The walk-up window from a seasoned pastry chef is open two days a week in Lakeside. (Richmond magazine)

The owner of Salsas Don Sebastian adores arepas and has a soft spot for spaghetti al limone. Learn more about the Venezuela native and mom in our latest spotlight. (Richmond magazine)

Monday restaurant closures can crush those dining dreams, but we’ve tracked down a collection of spots that stay open, and ones to skip, to help start the week right. (Richmond magazine)

Later, ‘maters. Savor tomato season before it’s too late, with a flaky tart recipe from The Roosevelt and tips on picking the ripest of the bunch. (Richmond magazine)

Drumroll, please. The winner of Gearharts Fine Chocolates’ custom flavor contest, a celebration of the chocolatier’s 20th anniversary that garnered a few hundred entries, is Strawberry Chutney. Expect the new bar to drop in coming months. The runner-up choices were inspired, too, with Peanuts and Cola as well as Pear Sangria getting a nod from Gearharts.

For all those welcoming the changing leaves and sweatshirt weather, Starr Hill Brewery is right there with ya. Beginning Sept. 15, the Scott’s Addition rooftop bar will host its annual Fall Fest, five days of food trucks, live tunes and festive brews including Last Leaf Maple Brown Ale.

September is National Suicide Prevention Month, and in a few weeks Longoven’s Andrew Manning will head to Chicago to join chefs Noah Sandoval of Oriole and Ryan Smith of Staplehouse for the third annual dinner to benefit Vibrant Emotional Health, an organization that works with people to help achieve mental and emotional well-being.

RVA Love

A spoof on one of fast-food chain Chick-fil-A’s top-sellers, the Gay-Fil-A chicken sandwich at Carver dive bar and eatery Cobra Cabana recently got a shout-out in Ultimate East Coast Gay Road Trip Guide from Thrillist. Each week a portion of proceeds from sales of the strictly Sunday sammy goes to Side by Side, a local nonprofit that supports Virginia’s queer youth.

Upcoming Events

  • Sprezza Cucina Pop-up, The Coop (Sept. 11): Look for ricotta gnocchi, Bolognese pappardelle and more from this rustic Italian pop-up; preordering required.
  • Keya & Co. Pop-up, Tabol Brewing (Sept. 11): Ghee masala mac and cheese and frooti boxes are on the menu, with a portion of proceeds benefiting the NYC Fire Department.
  • The Cookout Drag Brunch, Charlotte’s Southern Deli & Tapas (Sept. 11): Start Saturday off in style with brunch and performances.   
  • Cider Festival, Back Bay’s Farmhouse Brewing Co. (Sept. 11): Venture to Virginia Beach for a gathering of cideries from the commonwealth, including Richmond-area favorites Buskey, Courthouse Creek and Blue Bee.
  • Royal Pig Pop-upThe Veil Brewing Co. Forest Hill Avenue (Sept. 12): Cambodian comfort food; menu TBA
  • High on the HogPublix Cooking School (Sept. 13): Learn how to prepare pork all ways during this hands-on class.
  • Summer Evening Artisan Market, Main Line Brewery (Sept. 15): Catch Tiffany’s Food Truck, Loquito Coquito cocktails and more.
Posted on Leave a comment

Last Week’s Food News in RVA!

Helping you learn all about the latest and greatest food news in Richmond, VA!

Post originally appeared on RichmondMagazine.com.

Coppolas_Eileen-Mellon.jpg
Does the sight of this Italian hero (from Coppola’s Deli) make you hungry? Head below to discover some of the city’s best restaurants, bakeries, beverages and more, as chosen by our readers. (Photo by Eileen Mellon) 

‘Extra Crispy’

Whether you’re Team Flat, Team Drum or Team Vegan, when it comes to wings, the founders of Cluck N’ Roll believe it’s all about keeping it crispy. The pop-up from a trio of industry employees is tossing sauces from peanut butter and jelly to the staple Beet the Reaper, offering a fresh spin on the classic app/snack/meal. Catch them tonight at Hatch Cafe with a boneless wings event. (Richmond magazine) 

And the Winner Is …

It’s that time of year again, and our Best & Worst survey results are in, celebrating all the places, people and dishes that make Richmond the city we hold near and dear. In our Food & Drink categories, find new coffee shops to add to the mix, fun watering holes, gluten-free sweet treats, and spots to visit for a mimosa pitcher and a bangin’ breakfast. (Richmond magazine)

In on the Secret

Calling all history buffs, food lovers, trivia nerds and those who enjoy a little unusual outlook on things: From the extraordinary story of vanilla to the power of comfort food during wartime, local author Matt Siegel dives into the wild, weird and wonderful world of food history in his forthcoming debut book, “The Secret History of Food.” (Richmond magazine)

secret-history-of-food-matt-siegel_courtesy_kenzie-flinchum_teaser.jpg

‘A Total Showstopper’

“Vibrant,” “floral” and “showstopper” are all words Kate Stephenson, personal chef and founder of the namesake meal service Kate Uncorked, uses to describe the prized spice saffron, which makes a little magic in her recipe for Persian chicken and rice. (Richmond magazine)

Whiskey Revival

Out with the old, in with the new — well, sort of. In this month’s Open Tab, we keep the rocks glasses handy and explore a cocktail that embodies both tradition and possibilities: the Old-Fashioned. Stir it up with recipes from Belmont Food Shop, Brenner Pass and Virago Spirits. (Richmond magazine)

ICYMI

A garlic-tinged chapter has closed in Richmond as the city bid farewell to the Oregon Hill Italian refuge Mamma Zu. (Richmond magazine)

Got bao buns? Noah Rock does aboard his namesake food truck, Noah’s Rockin’ Buns, which recently hit the road dishing out the fluffy favorites. (Richmond magazine)

Cool down and sweeten up with five local desserts from a key lime pie cupcake to a cake made entirely from fruit. (Richmond magazine)

Warning, Food Network “Clash of the Cones” spoiler alert: During the second episode of the ice cream-centric competition show, North Side ice cream parlor owner Rabia Kamara of Ruby Scoops snagged another W, for back-to-back victories. Last week she impressed Kevin Bacon; this week, rapper and actor Ludacris.

Officially in action and complete with an outpost of The Beet Box for smoothie-and-go vibes, The Stables Market at Libbie Mill opened its doors over the weekend.

After almost a dozen years in business, Fresca on Addison is changing hands. The vegetarian eatery from daughter-and-dad duo Jimmy Sneed and Jenna Sneed Chew opened in 2010 and was a key player in paving the way for more plant-friendly options on the city’s dining scene. The business will remain family-owned, taken over by husband-and-wife team Rasool and Angela Al Hasini of Carytown Gyro. An Instagram post promises that Fresca favorites will remain, but says to look for more Mediterranean additions.

Speaking of markets, former Upper Shirley Vineyards chef Carlisle Bannister is joining the neighborhood market gang. Aiming for a fall debut, The Supper Club plans to open at 417 N. Ridge Road featuring butcher-cut meats, local produce and prepared meals. (Richmond BizSense)

Philly Vegan in Manchester is reopening this weekend with a pay-what-you-can system from Thursday to Sunday, inviting those who may need it to come in and enjoy a meal on the house. The owners are encouraging guests to spread the word.

Past Richmond magazine contributing writer Laura Sant is not only well-versed in food, she’s well-versed in art. Check out this pretty rad map from Sant featuring RVA watering holes and the beverages they’ve become known for.

Pop-up turned soon-to-open brick-and-mortar JewFro is offering a sneak preview of the new restaurant with its Rosh Hashanah Dinner packages available for two, four or 10 people. P.S.: There’s one week left to order.

The pop-up Susie & Esther, known for its laffa, hummus, and other Jewish and Mediterranean-inspired specialties, is taking things up a notch by adding private dinners and events to its repertoire.

Since launching in February, RVA Community Fridges, which aims to address food insecurity, has been keeping busy. The organization from founder Taylor Scott will unveil its seventh community fridge on Saturday, Aug. 28, at 10 a.m. with a grand stocking event at 4700 Oakleys Lane.

The Housepitality Family restaurant group, owners of neighboring eatery The Boathouse, plan to take over the shuttered Conch Republic space at Rocketts Landing with a new venture. Stay tuned for details. (Richmond BizSense)

Upcoming Events

  • Plant Party, Gallery5 (Aug. 27): Learn about seeds and make customized mixes with a cocktail in hand.
  • Flower Picking, Lickinghole Creek Craft Brewery (Aug. 27-29): BYOS — bring your own shears — and score a free bundle of blooms.
  • Fulton Hill Fish Fry and School Supply Drive, Ms. Girlee’s Kitchen (Aug. 28): Live tunes, $5 fried fish sammiches and an opportunity to give back
  • Smash Castle Pop-up, Hatch Cafe (Aug. 28): The SmashedRVA pop-up channels its inner Harold and Kumar for a menu featuring White Castle-style burgers.
  • 1st Annual Back to School Drive, The Beet Box (Aug. 28): An event to raise funds for RPS
  • Horne Dogs Pop-up, Don’t Look Back South (Aug. 30): Fried hot dogs, classic and chili-topped iterations, and more during the debut of this pop-up
  • Chopt Gives Day, Chopt Short Pump (Aug. 31): Soft opening of the new location at 11301 W. Broad St., Suite 109, with 100% of proceeds benefiting Shalom Farms
  • Fried Chicken and Caviar Champagne Dinner, Blue Atlas (Sept. 1): Three C’s join forces for a night inspired by Momofuku’s David Chang.

In Other Food News …

  • In Richmond, as well as Colorado, Georgia, Illinois and Oregon, workers for Nabisco Snacks, which produces Oreo and Chips Ahoy! cookies, are on strike, citing 16-hour days and a pension plan that hasn’t been restored despite increased sales. (The New York Times)
Posted on Leave a comment

Latest Richmond Food News!

Trotter roulade with peanut-chile crisp, peaches and buttermilk from a pop-up event at Metzger Bar & Butchery last weekend. Hungry for a weekend food event? Head below for lots of options. (Photo by Eileen Mellon)

Post originally appeared at RichmondMagazine.com

Farmers markets are a special place, and that’s exactly where the owners behind Auntie Ning’s Filipino food truck, Polpetti Italian catering and Column 15 Coffee all originally met. Fast-forward a year, and the trio of food businesses, while still on the farmers market circuit, can be found under one roof at The Market on Meadow. (Richmond magazine)

More in Store

Best friends and business partners Ezaddin “Dean” Alasad and Faisel Suort have been making big market moves in the past year. Blending big-box grocery store and neighborhood bodega vibes, the duo are responsible for Northside Gourmet Market, a revamp of Oregon Hill’s Fine Food Market and a slew of other shops on the way. Did we mention they’re the largest local distributor of Richmond’s own Nightingale Ice Cream Sandwiches? (Richmond magazine)

The Next Generation

Celebrating Black and brown culinary culture and diversity, a special event from acclaimed chef Kwame Onwuachi and Food & Wine will make its debut in Virginia next week. Dubbed The Family Reunion Festival, the event is a four-day adventure featuring family-style lunches, cookouts, wine tastings and seminars with appearances from chef Carla Hall, pitmaster Rodney Scott and more. (Richmond magazine)

Into the Woods

Foraging for food is second nature to Petersburg native Corey Bullock. The former Longoven chef recently revived his pop-up series, Euterra, a showcase of his deep-rooted adoration and understanding of the woods, where the menu — which has included a sycamore bark cookie and cicada condiment — is kept secret until after the meal. (Richmond magazine)  

ICYMI

Most recently of Can Can Brasserie, the brothers behind Brookland Park Market have reopened their business as a full-service restaurant. (Richmond magazine)

Taking neighborliness to a whole new level, downtown restaurateurs Mike Lindsey and Kimberly Lindsey-Love of Lillie Pearl have assumed ownership of nearby Pop’s Market on Grace after the eatery initially announced its closure. (Richmond magazine)

Whether you like it hot, plant-based or in snack size, we’ve got a killer collection of local fried chicken sammies. (Richmond magazine)

Industry experience and a passion for food are the driving forces behind Twisted Carrot Farm from VCU grad Sarah Hoffman. (Richmond magazine)

Where does Peter Chang like to vacation and what necessities does the celebrated chef keep in his fridge? Head this way to find out. (Richmond magazine)

Closed since the pandemic, the Mamma Zu’s space in Oregon Hill is up for lease for the first time in nearly 30 years. Stay tuned for more coverage about this loss of a Richmond dining institution. (Richmond Times-Dispatch) 

Cue “All Night Long,” because the farmers market venture turned brick-and-mortar space Up All Night Bakery has officially announced that it will open its walk-up window on Sunday, Aug. 29. Located at 5411 Lakeside Ave., it will take over the space that housed shuttered juice bar and cafe Pulp.

After unveiling the Manchester edition of Stella’s Grocery last week, the Giavoses have struck again. The Continental Manchester — the sister restaurant to the Westhampton outpost — is now open for a “very soft” first week at 609 Hull St.

Ben and Jerry’s Clash of the Cones” may sound like the latest release from the Vermont ice cream connoisseurs or possibly a new “Star Wars” spinoff, but in fact it’s an upcoming show from Food Network that stars a Richmond business owner. On Monday, Aug. 16, tune in to catch Rabia “Ruby” Kamara of North Side’s Ruby Scoops in the ultimate flavor competition. 

Save the date: Tickets for Real Local RVA’s 5th Annual Farm Tour — a four-hour adventure on Sept. 18 with pit stops at Shine Farms, Hazel Witch Farm and Real Roots Food Systems, along with snacks and tunes — are currently on sale.

Changes are on the horizon at Billy Pie. Starting last week, the Patterson Avenue ’za spot put a pause on Thursday-Sunday takeout service to focus on future plans, which include indoor dining, craft cocktails and some new menu items.

The Fountain Lake concession stand in Byrd Park is now home to a series of rotating culinary concepts, thanks to Richmond Black Restaurant Experience. Each week the gazebo, open from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m., will host a different Black-owned food business or vendor, from Tasty Cuisine by M& D to Cheddar Jackson. Paddle boats, anyone?

RVA Love

For its 10th anniversary, The Local Palate magazine decided to take a trip down memory lane and check in with some previously featured people and places. Flip through the most recent issue to peep a story featuring The Roosevelt, which celebrated a decade in Church Hill in July and has played a big role in igniting the restaurant scene in the city.

Posted on Leave a comment

Saved! Pop’s Market lives on!

Post originally appeared on https://richmondbizsense.com.

It looks like Pop’s Market will continue on under the tutelage of one of its downtown neighbors.

The market and cafe at 415 E. Grace St., which had reportedly been set to close this month, appears set to be taken over by Kimberly Love-Lindsey and Mike Lindsey, owners of restaurant Lillie Pearl across the street.

The wife-and-husband duo looks to be saving Pop’s from closure after filing an ABC application on Wednesday for the existing Pop’s space using the Pop’s Market brand as its trade name.

Kimberly Love-Lindsey and Mike Lindsey are the owners of Lillie Pearl. (BizSense file)

Pop’s Market has been operating out of the former Cokesbury books building downtown since 2015 under the ownership of son-and-mother duo Josh and Patti Wright. Named for Josh’s late father, the market’s sandwiches on fresh-baked bread and pasta-focused entrees have made it a popular downtown lunch and dinner destination.

But in the spring, the Times-Dispatch reported that Pop’s would be closing sometime this month.

Josh Wright and his mother Patti have owned Pop’s Market since 2015. (BizSense file)

Reached Wednesday, Josh Wright declined to comment on any deal that might be in place. Love-Lindsey and Lindsey couldn’t be reached for comment by press time.

If the Pop’s deal materializes, the restaurant would be a fourth spot for Love-Lindsey and Lindsey. They opened Lillie Pearl last fall at 416 E. Grace St. after years helping lead EAT Restaurant Partners.

In addition to Lillie Pearl, the couple is also opening two locations of their fried chicken concept Buttermilk and Honey — one in Hatch Local, a forthcoming food hall in Manchester, and the other in West Broad Marketplace in Short Pump.

Posted on Leave a comment

Are you screaming for ice cream, Richmond?!

It’s hot….it’s sticky….it’s summer! And what’s the best way to chill and get all cold and frosty? ICE CREAM! Here are some of the best spots RVA has to offer!

Coco + Hazel Rosengarten milkshake

COCO + HAZEL
411 NORTH RIDGE ROAD, RICHMOND, VA 23229

Is a description even necessary after you’ve likely just drooled all over your phone screen or keyboard from looking at that feature image? Seriously though, this new-ish specialty milkshake and espresso shop in Richmond’s West End just opened in April 2019 and is already wow-ing customers (and Instagram followers) with their extravagant milkshakes. Named after the owner’s daughters, Coco + Hazel serves single origin roasted coffee from Oaxaca and ice cream from the ever popular Homestead Creamery. Treat yourself to an indulgent milkshake, topped with your choice of delicacies, ranging from a whole slice of cake or pie to a “stack of brownies,” a cookie sandwich, cotton candy, and more! Or you can opt to go all out with The Family Challenge, a banana split big enough for four, with two scoops of vanilla, chocolate and strawberry ice cream, pineapple compote, strawberry compote, four chocolate dipped waffle cones, hot fudge, rainbow sprinkles, peanuts, whipped cream, cherries, and last but not least, bananas. Sooo…you’ll meet us there in a few hours, right? (Photo credit: Mick Anders Photography/Coco + Hazel)

GELATI CELESTI
LOCATIONS IN BON AIR, LIBBIE GROVE, SCOTT’S ADDITION, SHORT PUMP, AND THE WEST END

Heavenly handmade ice cream. That’s what you’ll find at Gelati Celesti, a locally-owned (and local favorite!) ice cream company that’s been operating in Richmond since 1984! Each batch of Gelati Celesti ice cream is made by hand with only the finest ingredients from around the world. Flavors are churned in small batches using special Italian equipment, which minimizes the air whipped into the ice cream, making it uniquely flavorful, thick and creamy. 

DELUCA GELATO
1362 GASKINS RD, RICHMOND, VA 23238

DeLuca Gelato is a family-owned and operated gelateria, specializing in gelato, sorbetto, and specialty Italian desserts such as fresh-baked tortes, cannoli, Florentine cookies, mascarpone pudding, and European sipping chocolate. The idea for DeLuca Gelato was born during a trip to Rome in April 2004 when the owners realized how much they love gelato and thought that Richmond needed a gelateria. The idea became reality in 2007 and DeLuca Gelato has been making delicious gelato ever since! Stop in for a tasty treat and you can watch the gelato being made fresh each day through the window of the production room.

Mabel's Bakery Cafe crazy milkshakes

MABEL’S ESPRESSO BAKERY CAFE
3844 OLD BUCKINGHAM RD, POWHATAN, VA 23139

Coffee, burgers & baking is their passion, but everyone’s raving about their milkshakes. Home of the locally famous “crazy shakes,” Mabel’s Espresso Bakery Cafe is the perfect place to delight your eyes and tantalize your tastebuds at the same time. These amazing milkshakes are edible works of art that will provide a seriously delicious sugar rush. With options ranging from S’more Craziness to Cloud Nine to Cookie Licious and beyond, don’t be surprised if you find a candy bar, donut, or an entire chocolate chip cookie ice cream sandwich atop your shake. (If you just accidentally licked your screen, we won’t tell).

SCOOP RVA
403 STRAWBERRY STREET, RICHMOND, VA 23220 

This small-batch ice cream shop opened in June 2018 in the Fan District and quickly became a hit with locals and visitors alike. With flavors including roasted strawberry, croissants & jam, and sweet corn & blackberry, you’re likely to find a new flavor you’ve never tried before, and it just might become your new favorite! We highly recommend trying one of their profiterole sundaes – a french pastry puff (baked fresh from sister store Whisk bakery) filled with your choice of ice cream, topping, sauce, and fresh whipped cream. Yes please!

NARWHALS ROLLED ICE CREAM
LOCATIONS AT 3313 WEST CARY STREET & STONY POINT FASHION PARK

The rolled ice cream craze arrived in RVA when NarWhals opened a sidewalk stand in Carytown several years ago. The popularity spread and you can now enjoy these rolled tubes of ice cream deliciousness at storefront locations in Carytown and Stony Point Fashion Park. Pick your base and mix-ins and watch the magic happen before your eyes as liquid ice cream is poured onto a freezing cold slab, tasty toppings are mixed in, then the yummy mixture is spread out and rolled up just for you! 

KING OF POPS 
3001 WEST CLAY STREET RICHMOND, VA 23230

King of Pops serves up yummy all-natural ice pops, handcrafted at the Pop Factory in Scott’s Addition since 2012. The ice pops are made with as many local ingredients as possible, such as milk from Homestead Creamery and berries from Agriberry. Enjoy the tasty pops at the King of Pops patio or look for their carts with rainbow umbrellas at various locations and events throughout the city.

CHARM SCHOOL
311 W BROAD STREET, RICHMOND, VA 23220

Since opening in December 2016, Charm School has quickly become a favorite spot for sweet treats in the Arts District. This cute gourmet ice cream shop on Broad Street was formerly home to an art gallery. After you savor every bite of your scoop of choice (we recommend ordering it with the signature house-made marshmallow-fluff topping, hand-torched to order), head outside and take a picture in front of the very Instagrammable “Greetings from Richmond” mural by local artist Mickael Broth and Ross Trimmer of Sure Hand Signs. Delectable ice cream and a photo op for the win! Oh, we almost forgot a very important detail: they also offer delicious vegan options! (Photo credit: Charm School)

THE DAIRY BAR
1602 ROSENEATH ROAD, RICHMOND, VA 23230

A Richmond tradition since 1946, The Dairy Bar was a local institution long before Scott’s Addition became the bustling craft beverage district that it is today. They offer a full (and delicious) breakfast and lunch menu seven days a week, but since we’re focusing on the sweet treats here, you need to know about their milkshakes, old time ice cream sodas, sundaes, and banana splits. Also, they’re still going strong after 72 years of business, so that pretty much speaks for itself.

STOPLIGHT GELATO CAFE
405 BROOK ROAD, RICHMOND, VA 23220

Located in the heart of Jackson Ward, this gelato shop was certainly a welcome addition to the neighborhood when it opened in July 2016. Don’t let the name fool you though – Stoplight Gelato Cafe serves up all sorts of tasty treats! In addition to a variety of unique gelato and sorbetto flavors, soft-serve ice cream, sundaes, floats, sodas, milkshakes, and smoothies, they also serve up sandwiches, soups, handmade pizzas, a selection of homemade pastries, breakfast bites, and robust coffee options. 

La Michoacana Ice Cream

LA MICHOACANA ICE CREAM
7808 MIDLOTHIAN TURNPIKE, NORTH CHESTERFIELD, VA 23235

La Michoacana has been serving up a delicious variety of ice cream, smoothies, and paletas (Mexican dessert popsicles) since 2010. All of their frozen treats are made ​​with natural fruit, which provides a rich flavor in every bite. 

BEV’S HOMEMADE ICE CREAM
2911 W. CARY STREET, RICHMOND, VA 23221

A Carytown staple, Bev has been making ice cream in Richmond since 1998. Beverly Mazursky graduated from the Culinary Institute of America in 1988 at age 49 and opened up the first Bev’s Homemade Ice Cream in Lenox, Massachusetts in 1989. Bev set her sights on Richmond in 1997 while visiting her son here. She moved to Richmond and opened her Carytown shop the next year, and the rest is history.

Originally posted on visitrichmond.com!

Posted on Leave a comment

Supply chain woes? Here’s how to protect you and your business.

It’s no secret that many industries are suffering from supply chain issues. The pandemic panic caused people and businesses to buy an abundance of items (hello, toilet paper!). In addition, production decreased due to a decreased demand for certain products. The restaurant and food industry has been one of the biggest victims of this crisis – many establishments are being forced to change menus, hours, and more due to supply AND staffing shortages.

According to Forbes.com, “initial consumer shelf shortages in 2020 were the result of many consumers wrongly believing a food production crisis was imminent, and buying up everything they could. Over the past year, however, production—particularly production targeting restaurants—diminished due to reduced demand.

With states now reopening, people are flocking to restaurants again, and most suppliers did not anticipate how rapidly customers would return. This has led to restaurant supply chain disruptions, from chicken parts to restaurant workers. Wages for restaurant workers are rising due to worker “return” shortages, caused in some cases by employees collecting unemployment benefits that may be higher than their previous wages, or else due to delayed re-openings for daycares and schools, which have forced many parents to stay home and care for children instead of returning to work. And as an example of how interconnected everything is in business today, the restaurant industry is also being harmed by the computer chip shortage. In addition, rising gasoline prices have resulted in increased transportation costs (refrigeration truck pricing has risen over 20% from February to May), leading to increased food prices.”

Fortunately, Forbes has some ways to protect your business from the fallout of the crisis.

1. Invest in the right technology

Within your secure and up-to-date digital network, you need integrated data from customers, sales, suppliers, and producers through “state of the art” inventory management systems connecting you to your suppliers, your production facilities, your warehouses, and your sales organization.

Invest in inventory management software that can provide real-time, detailed visibility into inventory control and supply chain management, including inventory levels, stock on order, and supplier on-time performance. Knowing the inventory levels at your vendors and raw materials at your suppliers will help you avoid volatility in your supply chain.

TAKEAWAY: Technology investments are relatively cheap when compared to the lost sales caused by a lack of inventory.

2. Diversify suppliers and manufacturing partners

Do not count on environmental, social, and political (ESP) stability. Follow your business instincts, not a simplistic, cost-focused software algorithm. Case in point is the political and economic issues between China and the United States, which have led many large manufacturers to use multiple suppliers—even at marginally higher costs—to avoid losing business and customers from potential supply chain disruptions.

TAKEAWAY: Hedge your bets—don’t rely on one supplier for a key component of your product.

3. Incorporate risk management into your supply chain management

Supply chain management is not just the sourcing of raw materials. It involves the end-to-end flow of goods and services, and includes all processes that transform raw materials into final products. It involves the active streamlining of a business’s supply-side activities to maximize customer value and gain a competitive advantage in the marketplace. Make sure you understand where you might have supply chain disruption that could affect product quality, pricing, and availability.

TAKEAWAY: Develop a supply chain risk matrix that allows the assessment of probabilities of supply chain disruption, and use it to mitigate and monitor risks.

4. Create a procure-to-pay purchasing system

Many functions in a business are not well integrated. Excel spreadsheets and manual processes are still common in many middle-market businesses. Procure-to-pay is a business process cycle spanning from procurement functions for goods and services needed, to receiving procedures (including verification), to accounts payable and accounting functions. Payables duties include vendor invoice matching to purchase orders and receiving reports, getting invoice approvals, paying approved invoices, recording transactions, and generating reports.

TAKEAWAY: Move from manual, paper-based purchasing to lower-cost, higher-control automated purchasing that links all relevant functions across your business.

5. Focus on the basics—cash is king

While thinking about supply chains, think about the supply chain involved with your cash flow. Do you conduct effective cash-flow forecasting? For example, how long can you last if there is a disruption and you cannot move your product? Is “just in time” inventory of materials and parts still a dependable theory? Do you have a line of credit or documents prepared to obtain a short-term loan if necessary to secure backup inventory? What is the cost of lost customers from not being able to sell your product due to shortages?

Good cash management is your ace in the hole, especially if your competitors lack this expertise. Successful businesses practice effective cash conversion cycle (CCC) management. CCC is a business measurement that expresses the time (measured in days) it takes for a company to convert its investments in inventory and other resources into cash flows from sales. Essentially, if your cash is tied up more days in inventory and raw materials than in days to collect on sales, then you could be “growing your company into the ground.” The more you grow, the more cash you will need from your bank.

TAKEAWAY: Focus on how long it takes to convert inventory to cash. Implement practices to accelerate cash collection from customers.

Coordination and cooperation are critical to avoid supply chain disruptions

Effective management of your supply chain provides several opportunities for your company to improve your profit margins and retain customers, but coordination and cooperation with all contributors to your supply chain is critical. Genuine engagement with those contributors is a win-win for manufactures and supply chain partners. Know this: your suppliers are ready (and in many cases eager) for change with you—this is a margin-increasing opportunity for them, too.

Article can be found here.

Posted on Leave a comment

A Very Happy 4th in RVA! Where to celebrate!

It’s hard to believe it, but Independence Day is this weekend!  Wasn’t it just spring?  Where has the time gone?!  If you’re like us, you’re probably itching to get out and do something fun (FINALLY!).  Check out some happenings going on this week and weekend to celebrate our freedom – and America’s birthday!

Sun. July 4, 2021 – Richmond Flying Squirrels – Independence Day Celebration & Dueling Fireworks – An annual Richmond tradition, celebrate the 4th of July at The Diamond and enjoy one of region’s largest firework shows after the game. | Gates open at 4:30 PM. 

 SUN., JULY 4, 2021 AT 4 PM – 10 PM – Red, White, and Lights 2021 – Meadow Farm Museum at Crump Park

SUN., JULY 4, 2021 AT 5 PM – 10:30 PM – Fourth of July Celebration presented by Virginia Credit Union – Chesterfield County Fairgrounds 

July 4th Parade & Celebration in Ashland, Virginia  You are invited to join in Sunday, July 4 at 11am for the best small town July 4th Celebration around! Parade, Patriotic music, Pie Contest, Pet Contest, Food, Lawn games. For more information, contact The Hanover Arts & Activities Center, 500 S Center St Ashland, VA 23005. 

Powhatan Freedom Festival on Sunday July 4th from 5pm-12am at the Powhatan fairgrounds, at the Powhatan County Fairgrounds, 4042 Anderson Highway. Fireworks show starts at nightfall.

For the most up-to-date information, visit: https://www.rvaonthecheap.com/july-4th-independence-day-festivities-in-richmond-virginia/

Whatever you decide to you, please be careful.  Every year, there are several injuries due to people setting off their own fireworks.  In addition, please keep in mind that not everyone enjoys fireworks – please be respectful of your neighbors.

Have fun!  And Happy Birthday, America!