Chef Frits Huntjens is breathing new life into Petersburg's historic City Market space with his restaurant, bar and market. (Photo courtesy of: Library of Congress)
Six years ago, one of Richmond’s most elegant restaurants closed its doors. 1 North Belmont, where Stuzzi currently resides, was a victim of both an economic downturn and an untenable spot on the sophisticated fringe of RVA’s dining scene in those hungry years before The Roosevelt, Secco Wine Bar, Pasture, The Magpie and Heritage energized our city.
Soon after the closure, chef and owner Frits Huntjens packed up his knives, clogs and Dutch accent and traded the turbulent life of an independent toque for a sweet corporate gig in North Side as the executive chef of Westminster Canterbury, a top-tier retirement community. And now, he’s unveiling an ambitious master plan to take his talents south. South to Petersburg. “Two investors are putting their money – well north of a million dollars – where their mouth is," says Huntjens, "and where everyone else’s mouth will be.”
Farmers Market Restaurant & Bar will be a 7,500-square-foot beacon of food and drink in the center of Old Town Historic District, housing multiple food stands and areas – think Dean & DeLuca but brought to you by one of our city's great chefs. The space will feature two levels, nearly 300 seats and a soaring cupola along an octagonal bar that mirrors the building’s footprint. Originally built in 1879 as a market, the historic space housed butchers, fishmongers, farmers, “dancers and hucksters, too,” adds Huntjens. “City Market has had a few lives.” His last day at Westiminster Canterbury is May 27, and from then on, Huntjens will devote the next three months to breathing life, furniture, equipment and staff into the space. This concept is expected to open Sept. 1, according to the chef, who adds, “We’ll hopefully make the kind of impact that Petersburg – and especially Old Town – deserves.”
Farmers Market Restaurant & Bar is located at 9 E. Old St. in Petersburg and is expected to open Sept. 1. Stay tuned to Richmond magazine's print editions for exclusive updates on the concept.