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This summer, Downtown Richmond is open for business and ready to serve you in a safe and responsible way. We hope you’ll support the many shops, restaurants, museums, entertainment venues, art galleries and hotels. The folks who own and operate Downtown establishments are your friends and neighbors, and they’re the faces of your Downtown.

Meet Michael Saunders of Leete Tire & Auto

Michael Saunders is the manager of Leete Tire & Auto Richmond, which operates six shops in Central Virginia. The Downtown location is 12 S. 2nd St. Leete Tire & Auto has spent the last 77 years focusing on honesty and integrity, ensuring the customer is always put first. “My hope is for our customers to forget about all the bad experiences they’ve had with auto shops and learn what it’s like to keep their cars safe with honest options at an honest price,” said Michael.

Open Monday-Friday from 7:30 a.m.-5:30 p.m., bring your car in for top-notch, local NAPA AutoCare service.

Visit Leete Tire’s website.

Meet Lorna Bedford of Native Plate

Restaurants have always been a part of Lorna Bedford’s life. Lorna is the proprietor of Native Plate and the daughter of Sunisa Polishuk, the owner of Mom’s Siam and Mom’s Siam 2. Native Plate opened in April and is one of Downtown’s newest restaurants. Lorna created a comfortable and inviting atmosphere with plants and modern décor. The global street food-inspired establishment uses Asian and American influences and features fresh ingredients, craft cocktails and desserts.

Native Plate is located at 1203 E. Main St. and open daily from 11 a.m.-10 p.m. for dine-in or takeout.

Visit Native Plate’s website.

Meet Charlie Lichter of Bottoms Up Pizza

Charlie Lichter knows a thing or two about pizza: He celebrated his 30th anniversary at Bottoms Up Pizza last month. Lichter is general manager of the beloved pizzeria in Shockoe Bottom. “The owners who I work for, Dirk Graham and Coalter Turpin, are great people,” said Charlie. Graham and Turpin opened Bottoms Up at its current location in May of 1991, and Charlie has been with them from the very beginning. While the pandemic impacted Bottoms Up, like so many other restaurants, staff are no strangers to adversity. In August of 2004, Shockoe Bottom was hit with the remnants of Hurricane Gaston. Just before dinner, the neighborhood flooded, and the restaurant was submerged under eight feet of water. Bottoms Up Pizza employees and guests were rescued by boat from the second story. With an unsinkable spirit, Bottoms Up reopened the following year.

The shop serves pizza – for delivery, takeout or dine-in – every day of the week at 1700 Dock St.

Visit Bottoms Up Pizza’s website.

Meet Nicole Clayton of The Loft at Steamer Co. 5

Entrepreneur and event planner extraordinaire Nicole Clayton launched The Loft at Steamer Co. 5 in Jackson Ward in February. The 75-person, historic event venue was originally built in 1883 and renovated in 2019. The Loft at Steamer Co. 5 specializes in birthday parties, corporate dinners, business retreats, rehearsal dinners and small weddings. With its high-ceilings, exposed brick and cathedral windows, it’s the perfect place to gather, celebrate and meet Downtown. “I was very excited about being in the area and in a community like Jackson Ward,” said Nicole. “The community has embraced me. It lifts me up and keeps me moving.” The team is booking events for 2021 and 2022.

Check out the space at 200 West Marshall St. on the second floor.

Visit The Loft at Steamer Co. 5’s website.

Meet David Ramirez of The Valentine

David Ramirez is the Visitor Services & Volunteer Programs Manager at The Valentine, a museum that’s been collecting, preserving and interpreting Richmond’s 400-year history for more than a century. David, who joined the museum in May, is committed to providing accessible spaces to understand and unpack Richmond’s complex and complicated history. He’s grateful for welcoming colleagues and the opportunity to introduce visitors to important stories. In addition to its permanent collections, The Valentine is offering the “Breathing Places: Parks & Recreation in Richmond” exhibition through January 30, 2022, which examines the design, use and change of the region’s carefully-crafted parks, recreation areas and natural spaces and their effect on residents today.

Stop by The Valentine Tuesday-Sunday from 10 a.m.-5 p.m.

Visit The Valentine’s website.

Meet Christine Delano of Christopher’s Runaway Gourmay

If you’ve ever strolled down Main St. around lunch this time of year, you’ve probably come across the red canvas umbrellas and smiling faces behind Christopher’s Runaway Gourmay food carts. If you know what’s good for you, you’ve waited patiently in line to load up on homemade tarragon chicken salad, marinated cucumbers, sesame pasta, a torn off piece of locally-made bread and a couple cold butter pats. The carts toting around the divided plastic containers and lovingly-made pasta, chicken and tuna salads have been feeding the Downtown Richmond community since 1985. Pictured here on the right is Christine Delano, one of the faces you may come across when stopping by for lunch.

Christopher’s has three locations Downtown: 8th and Main St., 12th and Main St., and 11th and Clay St. at MCV. Look out for Christine’s generous scoops at the 12th and Main St. location. Carts are out Monday-Friday during lunch hours.

Visit the Christopher’s Runaway Gourmay Facebook page.

Meet Ron Stallings of The Hippodrome Theater, Speakeasy Grill and Speakeasy Lounge

“Downtown is in,” said Ron Stallings, owner of The Hippodrome Theater. “It’s the in place for people to be.” Owner Ron Stallings meticulously restored the historic property that dates back to 1914 and reopened it in 2011. Today, the Jackson Ward venue includes the Speakeasy Grill, Speakeasy Lounge and the renowned Hippodrome Theater, located at 528 N. 2nd St. The venue typically hosts about 250 events a year, including corporate functions, weddings, comedy shows and parties. Brunch at the Speakeasy Grill is guaranteed to be delicious. The restaurant’s chicken and waffles were recently named by Food & Wine magazine as some of the best in the country.

Visit The Hippodrome’s website.

Meet Tinlaya “Tin-Tin” Khawplod of Patio Thai

Patio Thai is known for its flavorful and fresh Thai dishes – and a hidden outdoor garden space with a relaxing water fountain surrounded by lush greenery. Co-owned by Tinlaya “Tin-Tin” Khawplod and Jessy Moonkaew, Patio Thai is a Monroe Ward favorite for many Richmonders. “We love cooking and have many traditional Thai recipes passed down from grandmothers,” said Tin-Tin. “We thought it would be amazing to share these foods and culture at our first restaurant.” The restaurant celebrates its three-year anniversary in 2021.

Patio Thai is open for dine-in or takeout during lunch and dinner seven days a week at 103 E. Cary St.

Visit Patio Thai’s website.

Meet Steven Rowe of Colonial Plating

Downtown Richmond is home to Colonial Plating, one of only a few plating shops in Virginia. Steven Rowe, manager and owner, began working at Colonial Plating when he was just a teenager, helping his grandfather and father with the business. Through hard work and his grandfather’s guidance, Steven learned everything about plating and quickly turned his summer job into a career. Steven says they operate some of the same equipment his grandfather used back in the day, which has enabled them to plate just about anything – from copper to brass, fireplaces, trophies and chandeliers. “You name it, we can probably plate it,” said Steven.

Colonial Plating, located at 9 S 1st St., is typically open Monday-Friday from 9:30 a.m.-3:30 p.m. with appointments available via phone or email.

Visit Colonial Plating’s Facebook page.

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