For the first time in its 41-year history, Strawberry Street Cafe in the Fan District has undergone a major makeover.
For owner Ron Joseph, the change — the second big one at the restaurant in two years — is about staying competitive and relevant in a fiercely competitive local dining scene.
“After 41 years in business, although the décor was charming, my wife, Michele, and I decided (that) to be a contender in the Richmond market, we needed to be brighter and more inviting,” Joseph said.
To execute the freshened look, Joseph brought in interior designer Jennifer Skjei of Hello Interiors, who added restaurants to her home design portfolio last year with Laura Lee’s and later Garnett’s at the Valentine.
Joseph said the makeover is a work in progress, but the biggest changes — a wallpaper effect on the lightened walls, new light fixtures, sleek barstools, cushioned booths and all-new flooring — happened gradually, beginning in late summer.
The new look has a hip, updated vibe meant to attract millennials and young families from the neighborhood, something Joseph has been striving to do since he bought out his business partner nearly three years ago.
In 2015, Joseph added a burger night with a specialty-burger menu, new entrées and double the taps for craft beer, and now he’s expanding all that.
The burger menu has more specialty offerings. There’s also a longer weekday happy hour with steeper discounts, themed cocktails, delivery service and the option for diners to load up on the famous bathtub salad bar for weekday “grab and go” soup and salad for $8.
Joseph is now turning his attention to the rest of the menu. On the restaurant’s Facebook page, he’s asking diners what they’d like to see in the way of food and other things from the Fan District mainstay — but that’s just for sandwiches, appetizers, entrées and desserts, of course.
That bathtub salad bar isn’t going anywhere.
Strawberry Street Cafe is at 421 N. Strawberry St., (804) 353-6860.