The owners of the restaurant at 421 N. Strawberry St. have announced the name for their new restaurant. It will be called Scuffletown Garden - a nod to Scuffletown Park, the park hidden in the alley across the street from the restaurant.
Derek Salerno and Aaron Sisk bought Strawberry Street Café restaurant and the building in December and closed the restaurant on March 31 for a renovation and rebrand.
The renovations are expected to take about two months.
Previous from March 15:
After 43 years in business, Strawberry Street Café in the Fan District is closing.
The restaurant — known for the beloved bathtub from which a salad bar was served — will cease operating at the end of brunch service March 31 so the owners can execute a previously announced renovation of the space. The work will include a complete rebranding of the restaurant.
The name is going and — as also previously announced — the bathtub along with it (it’s been donated to the Valentine museum).
“After many months of listening, soul-searching, and figuring out our next move, we have decided to close Strawberry Street Café and completely rebrand during our planned renovation,” co-owner Derek Salerno wrote in a statement.
Salerno and business partner Aaron Sisk, two longtime Richmond restaurant workers, bought the restaurant and the building at 421 N. Strawberry St. in December for its listing price of $1.375 million.
“Truly — it’s been humbling to take on the leadership of a restaurant that inspires so much passion and so many strong opinions,” Salerno continued in his statement. “It has been an honor to serve our community in such a well-known and well-loved establishment, but all good things must come to an end.”
Renovations are expected to take about eight weeks, Salerno said, and most of the staff will help with the changes in some way.
The new concept and name will be shared in the coming weeks, but the kitchen team is already in place, Salerno said.
“Our kitchen will be helmed by executive chef Adam Campbell, previously of Alewife and Rappahannock, and sous chef Hosea Roberts, previously of Bar Solita and Rappahannock,” he said. “I’ll take the lead on the development of our mixed-drink and beer program, and our wine list will be curated collaboratively by Hosea and me, both certified sommeliers.”
Colin Eagles opened Strawberry Street Café in 1976, and the bathtub salad bar was a last-minute addition. Eagles was nearly out of money and needed a structure to hold the salad bar, according to the Richmond Times-Dispatch archives. At a friend’s suggestion, he went to Caravati’s [architectural salvage company] and bought a used clawfoot tub for $115. He painted the tub and filled it with ice and bowls of produce — days before the grand opening.
Eagles sold the restaurant in 1994 to then-general manager Grayson Collins and then-chef Ron Joseph. Collins retired in 2015, and Joseph took over as sole owner until the newest owners bought it in 2018.
Joseph attempted several small changes (adding a burger night, themed brunches and extra hours) and minor renovations before listing the restaurant and building for sale in September.
Here’s the backstory on that famous “Jeopardy” moment:
On the Dec. 15, 1995, broadcast of “Jeopardy,” this happened: A contestant asked for “State Capitals” for $200. Host Alex Trebek read the answer: “The Strawberry Street Café in this Virginia capital is noted for its bathtub salad bar.”
The question: “What is Richmond?”