Describing the concept behind her new Church Hill restaurant, The Roosevelt, Kendra Feather brings up the theory of the "third place."
"Every community needs that place to not be at home and not be at work," she says. "So hopefully we'll be that here." Feather also owns the mostly vegetarian Ipanema Café, in the Virginia Commonwealth University area, and Garnett's Café, a luncheonette on Park Avenue. The Roosevelt, set to open in early August, is envisioned as a neighborhood pub with Southern-inspired cuisine.
Feather recruited Lee Gregory, whose cooking she had often enjoyed when he was the head chef at Six Burner, as her partner in the new venture. "My plan had always been that if I ever had the money or if I ever had the opportunity, I want to do a restaurant with Lee," she says. Circumstances aligned when the new owners of the building at 623 N. 25th St. approached Feather about opening a restaurant there.
The restaurant takes its name from Franklin D. Roosevelt, whose Works Progress Administration helped build roads and mass transportation systems. "I was interested in food that was made before there was mass transit or major highways; people ate regionally," Feather says. As of mid-July, the menu was still in development. "It will very much change seasonally and with local availability," Gregory says. "I've never really had a signature dish because I've always changed stuff too fast. About the time the customers start really liking it, that's when it needs to go."
Meanwhile, The Roosevelt's space has been taking on its new identity. In the past, the building has housed a fish market and a pharmacy. Businesses like these used to be staples in Church Hill, and Feather and Gregory hope to help re-create that neighborhood atmosphere.