Acacia mid-town, one of the seminal restaurants that helped establish Richmond as a nationally recognized food town, is closing next month.
Restaurant owners Aline and Dale Reitzer announced Thursday that their award-winning New American restaurant at 2601 W. Cary St., will close at the end of service on Saturday, Feb. 8. The closing announcement coincides with the sale of the building they purchased in 2008 and that hit the market in May for an undisclosed list price.
Aline Reitzer said the closure of Acacia and sale of the building is an opportunity for the couple to do something else somewhere in Richmond.
“We’ve had Acacia for a total of 21 years,” she said. “We’ve seen Richmond grown in a lot of areas we never really imagined.”
The Reitzers opened the original Acacia restaurant in February 1998 in a renovated church at 3325 W. Cary St., in the middle of Carytown. The couple met and honed their Richmond restaurant chops working together at The Frog and The Redneck, chef Jimmy Sneed’s Shockoe Slip restaurant (1993-2001).
It didn’t take long for the national food world to notice Acacia and its chef. Food & Wine magazine named Dale Reitzer one of the “Best New Chefs in America” in 1999, 14 months after Acacia opened.
Other accolades followed. Dale Reitzer is a four-time James Beard Foundation Best Chef Mid-Atlantic nominee (2010, 2011 2012, 2015) and was twice named Richmond’s chef of the year. Acacia was voted the best restaurant in Richmond by readers of the Richmond Times-Dispatch, and The Washington Post’s Tom Sietsema called it “Richmond’s best restaurant.” And during its two decades in business, a number of notable Richmond chefs and restaurateurs cut their teeth at Acacia.
“[Acacia] was our first love in RVA,” said Greg Gilliam, an avid Richmond restaurant supporter who, along with his partner Richard Stone, was named Best Richmond Regular in the local dining awards in 2018. “We will shed a tear. Can’t wait to see what they do next.”
The Reitzers closed the Carytown location of Acacia at the end of 2007 when their lease ended and started looking for a new restaurant space. They found it — and an opportunity to own their own restaurant space — about a half mile away at West Cary and South Robinson streets.
“When we moved, we moved blocks away from where we started,” Aline Reitzer said. “It was in an underdeveloped area where the city’s bus depot was.”
Cary Street east of Arthur Ashe Boulevard was mostly populated by neglected and aging buildings a decade ago. GRTC Transit System’s aging bus depot took up 6.8 acres and was a century old. It closed a year after Acacia mid-town and remained vacant until 2018.
Aline Reitzer said people thought they were crazy to open their fine-dining restaurant, now called Acacia mid-town, in that area when they did in December 2008. But 11 years later, “this area now has grown up around us in a way we never imagined. We have 200 apartments and it’s a thriving area,” she said.
Developers turned that 7-acre bus garage compound into the $45 million-plus Cary Street Station development with 285 upscale one-, two- and three-bedroom apartments as well as restaurants, shops and other commercial space. Three more restaurants sprung up around them.
“We listed the building for sale because it was a good time to sell and that was one of the reasons we bought it,” Aline Reitzer said.
Acacia Development LLC bought the building for $375,000 in late February 2008, according to the city’s online property records. The one-level building with 4,761 square feet is assessed in 2020 for $850,000, the records show.
The closing sales price or the new owner was not available.
“We knew closing Acacia and leaving the space was a possibility. We were up for the adventure and are looking forward to another project,” she said. “We have a couple of irons in the fire. We plan on opening another restaurant. We just don’t know where or when.”
Aline Reitzer is also the founder of Richmond Restaurant Week, a biannual, weeklong event that features dozens of local restaurants offering a prix fixe menu and donating a portion of every meal to Feed More, the umbrella organization that includes the Central Virginia Food Bank, Meals on Wheels and the Community Kitchen. She will continue to coordinate the event.
But for now, Aline Reitzer is focusing on the last few weeks at Acacia.
The restaurant will be “business as usual,” with the exception of Jan. 29, when Acacia will celebrate its 21st anniversary with a three-course wine dinner (three courses, three wines) for $48 per person.
The last day is Feb. 8. And then the couple will celebrate what she said might be their first Valentine’s Day ever outside of a restaurant.
“I may make Dale cook for me at home,” she said.
Acacia is open Monday through Saturday beginning at 5:30 p.m. Reservations can be made at acaciarestaurant.com or by calling (804) 562-0138.