How John Haggai's big boss move brought Burtons Grill & Bar to Richmond

Posted at 9:13 AM, Oct 19, 2023
and last updated 2023-10-19 09:13:01-04

RICHMOND, Va. -- When the people who run Boston-based Burtons Grill & Bar asked John Haggai to be the company's new CEO, the Richmond man pulled what can only be described as a baller move.

"[I said] I'm not moving to Boston, as beautiful as it is, plus I have kids, I'm not moving, there's no way. So I thought that was a deal breaker," but it wasn't Haggai said. So he added another stipulation. "And I said I'm building a restaurant in Richmond. Richmond is awesome but it's not quite big enough of a city typically that we're in. We're in Charlotte. We're going to Atlanta. We're in some bigger markets. And I'm like, I think one could do really well here. That was the really ballsy move was to build a restaurant, right when I took over in my town."

Haggai moved to Virginia 20 years ago to manage Outback restaurants.

He stayed in Richmond and eventually left Outback to be part of the team that founded both Cafe Caturra and Tazza Kitchen.

"I had brunch at Tazza two days ago," he said. "It's like my second favorite restaurant now."

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So what can you expect at his favorite restaurant? Allen Brothers steaks for one.

"They're the best cutting house in the United States," he said of his steak supplier. "We use single source, North Dakota ranch, Black Angus cattle. It is the best, no doubt. If you eat a steak at Burtons and you cut into it, it's phenomenal. And you'll pay $20 less than you will wherever."

Haggai said Burtons was also proud of its ability to be accessible to anyone.

"People who have accessibility [issues], people with special needs, and the big one is really the dietary restrictions and allergy friendly because that's a tough one to pull off in our business."

Burtons Grill & Bar is located at 3520 West Cary Street in the new Carytown Exchange shopping center.

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