RICHMOND, Va. — After 30 years in business, Ron Joseph put his iconic Richmond restaurant Strawberry Street Cafe on the market for $1.4 million back in September 2018. Joseph, who began as a cook at the restaurant, took over as the owner in 1994. On Monday, December 3, the restaurant will have new owners.
Derek Salerno and partner Aaron Sisk will take over Strawberry Street Café, located at 421 Strawberry Street in the Fan. They close on the business Monday and hope to re-open on Tuesday, December 4.
Salerno and Sisk are no strangers to the Richmond food scene bringing experience from multiple award-winning restaurants such ZZQ, Shagbark, Comfort, and Peter Chang.
Salerno also was a manager at Buckhead’s and The Hard Shell and Sisk is currently the bar manager at ZZQ.
The two plan to operate the business ‘as is’ for now, no changes except a fresh look at cocktails.
“We will get hands-on with beer, wine, and spirits immediately,” Salerno said. “We won’t get hands-on in the kitchen till it’s renovated. The food will be new American, but very neighborhood style.”
They are keeping the staff in its entirety.
The ownership change will happen slowly. The two intend to get to know the neighborhood and the current patrons and employees while slowly fleshing out what needs to stay, what should go, and are open and encouraging feedback. (I have some – please get rid of the carpet.)
“We want to make sure the people who work there are taken care of. There are some employees who have been there for 30 or over, “ says Salerno. “I’ve met most of the staff and they are genuinely wonderful.”
When they close, they will enlist Amrit Singh from Fultz and Singh help re-design the space and add some modernity along with re-designing the kitchen. Fultz and Singh recently did the Longoven and ZZQ builds in Scott’s Addition. Brandon MacConnell, chef de cuisine at Shagbark, will help with the kitchen redesign and eventually retool the menu adding some updates and put a little bit more emphasis on freshly prepared items.
“MacConnell is chef de cuisine at a higher-end restaurant, but he also makes delicious and accessible food. Like his cheesesteak pop-up [Salerno is referencing a pop-up McConnell did a few months ago at the Jasper in Carytown featuring cheesesteaks — I was there. It was exceptional] I can’t wait to see what he has planned”, Salerno said.
As for the bathtub salad bar: they hope to eventually transfer the bathtub to the Valentine Museum as a piece of Richmond restaurant history.