When Ry Marchant first went inside the building at 416 E. Grace St., formerly home to the Montaldo's store, he felt like he was stepping back in time. "There were Women's Wear Daily magazines from the 1980s," he says. Buildings on both sides are empty.
Marchant, a lawyer turned developer and restaurateur (he also owns Six Burner), grew up in Richmond and remembers when the downtown block was thriving. "I wanted to be down in this part of Richmond and be part of it coming back," he says. He and his partners, Comfort chef/owner Jason Alley and Six Burner manager Michele Jones, hope their new restaurant, Pasture, set to open in late October, will help bring that about.
While Marchant began renovating the building, adding apartments upstairs, Alley and Jones visited restaurants in other cities to get ideas. Both agreed that they want Pasture to offer top-notch food and service in an unstuffy atmosphere. "It should feel like a party," says Jones, who was manager of the now-closed Comfort location in Portsmouth. Alley adds, "You can pop in for a burger and a beer, or sit down for full-on, multi-course freakout."
The menu will consist of Southern small plates using the nose-to-tail concept. Alley previewed a sample in August at a Secco Wine Bar event, serving deconstructed Wellington using pigs' feet instead of filet mignon, chicken liver in place of foie gras and white toast rather than puff pastry.
In designing the restaurant's interior, Alley's wife, Mercedes Schaum, decided to leave the octagonal floor tile, which had been covered with carpet. The tile dates back to businesses that occupied the building before Montaldo's, including Frigidaire in the early 1930s (shown above) and Edward's Restaurant in the 1940s. As a tribute to the neighborhood's history, Pasture will also feature lunch items inspired by the old Miller & Rhoads tea room and Thalhimers Richmond Room, such as cucumber-and-butter sandwiches, ham salad and egg salad. "Both of these menus had some version of a tongue sandwich," Alley says. "We'll have that.