Balliceaux: Walking The Walk

by | Aug 25, 2009 | COMMUNITY

There’s a lot of talk about being green these days. Repurposed materials, recycled materials, carbon-neutral business practices, locally sourced products and other claims can often be proven to be utter hogwash (or, more appropriately, greenwash). Few local organizations can make a claim to be truly environmentally conscious, and even fewer restaurants are up to par in a town that seems some days to be run more by Sysco. Still, Richmond does have some shining stars. Ellwood Thompson provides a bounty of locally sourced foods & organic products, The Edible Garden sources all of their food locally, and there are many nonprofits that encourage and enable socially and environmentally conscious practices. New retail spaces and restaurants open in the area on a regular basis, however, few put forth the effort that Balliceaux has.


There’s a lot of talk about being green these days. Repurposed materials, recycled materials, carbon-neutral business practices, locally sourced products and other claims can often be proven to be utter hogwash (or, more appropriately, greenwash). Few local organizations can make a claim to be truly environmentally conscious, and even fewer restaurants are up to par in a town that seems some days to be run more by Sysco. Still, Richmond does have some shining stars. Ellwood Thompson provides a bounty of locally sourced foods & organic products, The Edible Garden sources all of their food locally, and there are many nonprofits that encourage and enable socially and environmentally conscious practices. New retail spaces and restaurants open in the area on a regular basis, however, few put forth the effort that Balliceaux has.

balliceaux

balliceaux

The vast majority of materials used in Balliceaux- the stairs, chairs, and almost all of the wood fittings in the restaurant- are repurposed, mostly from a boardwalk in New Jersey. The majority of the appliances were bought used. Owner Lainie and Steve Gratz went through considerable effort to make sure that the dining rooms, bathrooms and hallways are naturally lit by skylights, vastly reducing the amount of electricity used during most of the day; artificial light is barely needed until the sun is set. The ceiling is made of cork, a renewable wood source that’s actually good for the environment to harvest if done responsibly. All hot water is pre-heated via solar heaters installed on the roof, so hot tap water needs to be heated only a fraction more than it already sits. The edible fare offered is to be locally sourced, as well, with a stated “farm-to-fork” mentality. Executive Chef Russell Cook and Sous Chef John Elliot (both formerly of Millie’s) have crafted their menu around local & seasonal availability with the intent of offering a dynamic and fresh palate.

balliceaux

Balliceaux is not just a socially and environmentally responsible eatery. The interior design is simply breathtaking, a complete departure from Richmond’s usual offerings, and although quite modern, it is in no way tired or repetitious of popular design tactics- wood and concrete meet gracefully to create a space that is warm and clean. Design cues come from Gratz’s expansive world travels, mostly on the sea, and include porthole-style wall applications containing images captured by the owner and printed on amber. Those who were familiar with the previous tenant’s aesthetic will be pleasantly surprised to find that while the aesthetic is completely different, the flow & ease of movement through the structure remain easy and natural, perhaps more now than before.

balliceaux

balliceaux

It is also important to note that local music man Chris Bopst will be bringing in various types of music. To keep with the history of the building and offer a local venue for good Jazz and local bands, providing that late night atmospheric back room feel. Most importantly its a great environment to enjoy some amazing food in the surroundings of a building that Steve and the whole crew went to extraordinary lengths to make special.

words & images : Ian M. Graham

RVA Staff

RVA Staff

Since 2005, the dedicated team at RVA Magazine, known as RVA Staff, has been delivering the cultural news that matters in Richmond, VA. This talented group of professionals is committed to keeping you informed about the events and happenings in the city.




more in community

Cadavers Find Your Happy Place at BODY WORLDS Richmond

There’s a pretty cheeky juxtaposition of themes going on at the Science Museum right now. As you stroll through the BODY WORLDS: The Anatomy of Happiness exhibition, artfully posed cadavers go about their epoxied business with joints or muscle structures peeled back...

Chappell Roan Show: Less Concert, More Pink-Powered Pride Party

Driving down the business district toward Brown's Island on Thursday evening, there was nothing but a sea of pink—pink dresses, pink overalls, pink cowboy hats, pink glitter, pink rhinestones, pink everything. Anyone who didn't know better might have quietly wondered...

2nd Best Comedy Fest Delivers Top-Tier Entertainment!

Hello reader! The weekend of June 6-8th, Richmond is set to erupt in laughter with the 2nd Best Comedy Fest, featuring a dazzling array of talent from major comedy hubs like LA, Chicago, New York, and beyond. Taking place at the Coalition Theater and The Basement, the...

Commentary | Here’s The Thing About Gentrification

A few months ago, a Los Angeles-to-Richmond transplant who happens to be a prolific TikTok content creator made a series of videos about her favorite vegan spots in town and an e-book guide. You could see the clear joy of discovery on her face along with the...

RVA 5X5 | The History of The Mayo Bridge

The city and the Virginia Department of Transportation (VDOT) are undertaking the early stages of planning to replace the Mayo Bridge (14th Street bridge) that connects Hull Street in Manchester and 14th Street in Shockoe Bottom. The four lanes of bridge traffic often...

20 Years of RVA Magazine! A Chat with S. Preston Duncan

As we dive into the 20-year journey of RVA Magazine, it made sense to document it somehow -- so I started this laid back, insightful, and hopefully entertaining, podcast series. It's a chance for me to catch up with old friends who've shaped the magazine from the...

Time For A Richmond Pizza Date!

Over the last decade Richmond has become a proper pizza town. Local pizzerias dish up a variety of styles at every price range. Pizza is the food of the people so naturally it makes a great date. You can learn a lot about a person across a slice. Are they a folder?...

The Kids Are Alright: Cristian Espinoza’s Street Life Photos

Cristian Espinoza has been capturing the essence of youth street life for some time, and his film photography provides a raw, authentic look into the underground and art culture of the DMV area. We had the opportunity to send him a few questions. R. Anthony Harris:...

Topics: