Ross Renfrow hopes that the underwater theme, indoor-outdoor bars and adjoining night club will make his new restaurant, the Fish Bowl Bistro & Bar, a community hangout for people who want to drink and dance as well as dine on exotic Caribbean/Asian cuisine. The Fish Bowl is expected to open by summer's end at 101 S. 15th St. in the former Relish space, with a grand opening set for Sept. 3.
The Shockoe Slip restaurant will serve unusual fare including wasabi-tempura tuna poppers and tangerine-lobster linguini, as well as gluten-free and vegetarian items. Entrées will be priced at about $18 for dinner. The restaurant has two bars — one is inside, while the other is both indoor and outdoor, with smoking permitted in the outdoor section. Live bands and DJs will play several nights a week. In keeping with its aquatic theme, the Fish Bowl is decorated with fish tanks, Japanese fishing-net floats, and two beach-inspired murals, painted by Renfrow's longtime friend Sean Vandelinde.
Although this is Renfrow's first restaurant, he's been in the business for 16 years, starting out as a dishwasher at the age of 13. He has worked as a line cook, a server, a bartender, a sous chef, an executive chef, a kitchen manager and a general manager. As majority owner of Buona Sera Inc., a restaurant-management and concept development company, he has helped open nine other restaurants. Renfrow's brother, William, will be the Fish Bowl's chef. With 17 years' experience in the kitchen, he has worked at Le Chambord in Virginia Beach and at restaurants in Maryland, South Carolina and the U.S. Virgin Islands. "Every chef that I've been under has taught me something different," William Renfrow says. If everything goes well, Ross Renfrow hopes to open two more restaurants in the next year.