Isabel and James Eckrosh are closing down their restaurant, with exciting changes ahead. (Photo courtesy The Dog & Pig Show)
"We’ve got some big news. As we start off this new year, our focus has shifted to a new direction for The Dog & Pig Show," the Facebook announcement read. "As of February 12th we will be closing our storefront doors." Thursday's news shocked fans of Church Hill's stylish, creative and neighborly restaurant The Dog & Pig Show. Where, after Feb. 12, would Richmond find James Eckrosh's shrimp and grits made with kimchi butter and roe? Or Isabel Eckrosh's dalmatian cookies and milk-and-cookies bars? Fortunately, while the husband-and-wife team will close the doors next month, there's hope on the horizon.
"We were so fortunate to have the response that we've had and we know we have those people who love what we've created. Very, very fortunate, but I think it was just that time," says Isabel, who opened the restaurant with James in December 2014 before taking home last year's Elby Award for best "Grab and Go" restaurant. "I'm pregnant and I knew I wouldn't be able to be there like I wanted, and James is a perfectionist. Being involved in the restaurant, doing what else he wanted to do and starting this new chapter with our family, we thought, 'Let's end this and see what else is in store for us.'"
In addition to welcoming their son — adorably nicknamed Roux — in two weeks, that "what else" will include a small-batch line of products, which the Eckroshes hope to sell in local shops such as Union Market, JM Stock Provisions and the Richmond outposts for Whole Foods and Fresh Market. While the two are still securing production facilities, they plan on launching three products this spring: pimento cheese, pickled shallots and pickled beet turnips. Their tomato jam, cult-status "pig candy" and chimichurri would be the next wave of their food line, should all go smoothly. They've even toyed with the idea of selling make-at-home mixes and packages for their most popular items, including the shrimp and grits.
"I think James would still be open to doing Sunday Suppers or some sort of collaboration," Isabel adds. "He loves what he does and I personally think he's very talented, and we haven't closed any doors as far as continuing to work in the industry. I just think it's going to look a little different for us."
As for Isabel's decadent dessert bars, cookies, brownies and bread puddings, she's still weighing her options. If she can find kitchen space, the baker and restaurateur would love to sell her goods wholesale around town. Also on the horizon might be a branding change, with product labels sporting initials "DPS" or "D&P," as opposed to the restaurant's full name.
All of this will coincide with a few more life changes for the team: Isabel's already begun working with the freshly launched Palindrome Creative Co. — a new design, photography and marketing studio here in town — and James plans on returning to school to study kinesiology, a years-long dream of his.
"When we first started this whole thing, if we were successful we knew we wanted to have kind of a two-year goal, and then reevaluate where we were and what was going on. We got to that point, and it was seriously the hardest decision because we ended up being successful and had people who loved and supported us, but we both just felt there were a few things we wanted to do outside the restaurant," Isabel says. "Moving here and doing this was such an incredible opportunity because we met so many incredible people, and we have nothing but a good feeling and a good experience. We are very fortunate in that."
To stay apprised, follow The Dog & Pig Show on Instagram and Facebook, where the pair will announce product launches and other updates. And, of course, stop by the restaurant at 314 N. 25th St. for lunch, dinner and brunch, now through Feb. 12.