Photo by Robey Martin
Goatocado's first brick-and-mortar restaurant, set to open this fall
Goatocado is expanding in a big way. You can already find the fresh food cart in Carytown, all over the city and at most festivals. In early fall, you'll be able to find its first brick-and-mortar location in the metal half circle that is 1823 W. Main St. Co-founder Ian Newell is bringing healthy fare to the Fan in a few months' time with an expanded menu, in addition to maintaining his cart and the new outpost in Carytown Bicycle Co.
We caught up with him to chat about the new space and what to expect.
Richmond magazine: Tell us about the new location.
Ian Newell: I have never built out a restaurant before. I am trying to do as much planning as I can. I don’t want to say too much, because I am of the belief that you under-promise and over-deliver. I definitely have rented space out and I have always thought that building was cool. I have had my eye on it since [my time at] VCU. It was like a junk warehouse before and then in the early '90s [it was a] a catering place, or so I was told.
RM: How big is the building?
Newell: It’s 1,400 square feet and pretty empty inside right now. There is some plumbing, but we may have to disregard it. I am just figuring out how this can work. Being a mobile business is difficult, and it’s been trial and error for me. I set out to serve healthier, fresher food at festivals; it is way more work than it looks.
RM: Tell me about your food cart business and how it will translate to the new spot. And how has it been at your new Carytown location?
Newell: Serving fresh ingredients from a cart is tough – there are so many variables that can perish, like avocados. If it rains, no one comes [to the event] – those avocados aren’t something that can keep. Having this brick and mortar will be so much easier; I can store things. I have all these ideas to hit different audiences. For me to move forward with the kiosk, I had to cut back on some of them, but because we will have that outlet now or soon, I can use the trial and error of four years – that good data – and offer a whole lot more.
We are, hopefully, teaming up with a lot more farmers and other local business like Farmtable. Not having a spot to drop off food is tough. This is a labor of love; we are trying to make it as easy as possible for the customer to get fresh, good food.
We used to serve sandwiches, but we can reach more people easily without the time-consuming process of local bread. We have had to be reactive. We want to be fast-service.
I've had to make mobile work with fresh ingredients. It's turning more into a year-round business. I want to employ people with a solid gig, and that allows product relocation, which is different than before, when we first started. We have a lot of variables as a mobile spot that have to be figured out.
RM: The Carytown location is a solid and busy spot; it's like a brick and mortar, but different, and it's open seven days a week there. That seems equally as challenging. How did you start in that location, and what made you decide to open there?
Newell: I dealt with the health department for a year. I had an idea and I wanted to make it work. The city said, "You are the first person to do this." I just thought of it as a food truck inside [of Carytown Bicycle Co.]. It seemed more sanitary to me. My thought was you should be able to eat our food and head out for something athletic. These outposts might make it more accessible for everyone.
The point is, you can come in, watch people work on bikes and see an active lifestyle while eating active lifestyle food; I'm excited about that stuff. I intend to change the atmosphere a little once we are open on Main Street, and lighten it up a little bit. I might even try and get alcohol in there. I have learned a ton. I now know how to weld because of this business.