Family Meal closes Willow Lawn location

Posted at 9:22 AM, Aug 19, 2016
and last updated 2016-08-19 09:23:24-04

RICHMOND, Va. — A restaurant anchor in a busy West End shopping center has closed its doors after 18 months in business.

The owners of Family Meal have closed the brand’s lone Richmond location in the Shops at Willow Lawn, according to Hilda Staples, a well-known restaurateur that partnered with famed “Top Chef” contender Bryan Voltaggio to open the eatery.

“We love Richmond, and we have other dealings in Richmond,” Staples said while loading up the last of Family Meal’s chairs, alcohol and equipment into a U-Haul in front of the shuttered eatery late Thursday afternoon. “It just didn’t work out.”

Staples and Voltaggio opened their 4,000-square-foot Willow Lawn location in March 2015 after establishing its first Virginia Family Meal in Ashburn in February 2015 – investing close to $1.6 million in the restaurant.

“Everyone has been wonderful, our loyal customers were wonderful,” Staples said. “There just simply wasn’t enough of them.”

The first Family Meal was opened in Frederick, Maryland, in 2012, with a second location added in Baltimore shortly after. The pair also opened restaurants in Washington, D.C. and metro Baltimore.

Voltaggio has appeared on Bravo’s “Top Chef” cooking competition show. In 2009, he placed second after his brother Michael, and in 2013 he was runner-up on the fifth season of Top Chef Masters.

Staples is well-connected to Richmond’s dining scene, as well as Voltaggio’s other restaurant concepts. She owns a stake in Graffiato at 123 W. Broad St. Her husband, Jonathan, is a co-owner of James River Distillery, and he’s involved with GWARbar in Jackson Ward.

Deirdre Johnson, of Willow Lawn owner Federal Realty Investment Trust, said the company was shocked by the news of Family Meal leaving the shopping center. She said the company received notice from Family Meal about its pending closure Wednesday.

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Family Meal, which opened in the Shops at Willow Lawn in March 2015, closed its doors Wednesday. (J. Elias O’Neal)

Family Meal, which opened in the Shops at Willow Lawn in March 2015, closed its doors Wednesday. (J. Elias O’Neal)

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