By Nathan Cushing
Social52 picks up where Avalon left off this Friday evening when the new restaurant opens.
“The menu is eclectic new-American fare,” said Walied Sanie, one of the restaurant’s three partners (Bart Carrique and James Baldwin are the others). In addition to items like pan-seared duck breast ($19), lamb meatballs ($19), and the beer-simmered grilled bratwurst sandwich ($9), the restaurant will offer 71 beers. Over 50 of them will be craft beer. Six craft beers will be on tap, including Hardywood and Legend brews.
Sanie helped open Tiki Bob’s in Shockoe in 2000 before working as an operating partner at BlackFinn in Bethesda, MD. He returned to Richmond, committed to opening his own restaurant in town.
Last winter, he and his partners discovered that Avalon was for sale. The three purchased it with “ideas to remodel and breathe life into” the 20-year-old restaurant. Originally, those changes were slight, to avoid dishonoring the restaurant’s history with previous owner, Peter Harahan.
The partners closed the deal on Thursday, March 28th of this year. The following day “was business as usual” for Avalon, Sanie said.
But after the renovations process began, Sanie said he and his partners realized those renovations were slowly turning the restaurant into something else. “We kind of ventured into a different vision than what Avalon was,” he said. “We thought it’d be best to take the vision that we had and morph it into a new concept” out of respect for the restaurant’s history.
Sunie calls the concept “upbeat” and “lively.” Since Avalon closed on June 3rd, workers have gutted the interior and created a casual, loft-like decor. Sunie said the restaurant, like its name indicates, is a place for people to socialize over good food and beer. Richmond will get the chance to do so this Friday.