You likely don’t remember anything from high school Spanish except some basics. But translating “Casa del Barco” shouldn’t be too hard once you know who’s behind the first commercial tenant of the new riverfront development on the Canal Walk.
Kevin Healy, owner of the Boathouse restaurant locations at Sunday Park and Rocketts Landing is constructing the Mexican equivalent (yes, Spanish for “boathouse”) in the former Reynolds building at 12th and Byrd streets, now called the “Italianate” (it was once a warehouse for both Reynolds Metals Co. and R.J. Reynolds Tobacco). Opening is scheduled for the end of October, coinciding with a major holiday in Mexico, the Day of the Dead.
Boathouse executive chef Todd Richardson will head up Casa del Barco, which will feature 150 different tequilas, his family’s old recipes, and a massive outdoor patio. “It’s such a cool area down here, and nobody’s done anything with it for years,” says Richardson. “Everybody’s talked about doing stuff down here, but nobody’s grabbed ahold of it.”
Interior designer Helen Reed’s imagination — she stylized the Boathouse at Rocketts, deLux, and numerous other familiar upscale watering holes — is bringing to life the interior of the 5,700-square-foot space. Reed describes the d?cor as “paying homage to Mexico” with very clean design, and keeping the original architecture and exposed bricks visible. She also hints at “a pretty elaborate feature” running down the span of the dining room ceiling that will be the “highlight of the restaurant.”
Asked to elaborate: “It’s fun with lighting, is all I can say.”
The Italianate will be the first phase of the renovation at The Locks, a six-acre, mixed-use community along the riverfront. With a central tower overlooking Haxall Point, the Italianate will include 20 of the 174 total apartment units at The Locks once the first phase is completed in February.
As for Casa del Barco, Richardson says a big lesson he’s learned in his 20 years of working in the highly competitive industry is to keep not only the customers happy, but the staff, too. And doing so, he notes, requires a cool working atmosphere.
“You get a lot of energy out of the environment,” he says. “There are some places in Richmond that are fun and happening because people are happy to work there. So we’re just trying to focus on making people happy.”
Article from Issue #16