Shiny New Nightlife
From left-to-right: front-of-house manager Manny Redoble, executive chef Aaron Hoskins, consulting chef John Maher, bar manager Patrick Kelly, with co-owner Justin Ayars.
2113 has quickly become a hotspot for nightlife since opening in February, and this weekend the bistro-lounge debuts its new menu at Family & Friends Fourth Friday.
While opening their doors for the LGBTQ and friends monthly social event, owners Justin Ayars and Jesse La Vancher are clear that this is a place without labels.
“We’re not black, white, gay, straight. We are 2113. As long as you are respectful, come,” La Vancher said.
Yes – the man candy may cometh as apparent by a recent weekend night around the bar — Ayars echoes they are open for everyone.
“It’s a new venue, it happens to be nice, clean, attractive and gay people like nice things.” Ayars said. ”We didn’t open a ‘gay’ business – there are some good businesses here already established and we support them.”
Ayars and La Vancher are ready to make their mark on Richmond’s food and drink scene.
Now, with consulting chef John Maher and executive chef Aaron Hoskins at the helm, they’re upping the game on their menu with offerings like a 48-hour beef brisket with smoked potato, baby vegetables, and sauce bordelaise; and sweet corn agnolotti with black truffle, shiso, and tomato. Ooh la la.
A new master mixologist Patrick Kelly is also in place – Kelly is one of two members of the United States Bartenders Guild residing in Richmond and has been brought on board to enhance the cocktail menu.
Walking into the space, it’s hard to imagine it was once home to a Henrico County jail cafeteria. La Vancher designed a dining room and bar that hints at South Beach with hot hues of orange and fuchsia that contrast the history of the building and its exposed brick. A partially covered outdoor patio offers an element of romance with greenery and subtle lighting.
“[When we explored the city] there really wasn’t a place to experience [this] vibe,” Ayars said. ”A vibe that was cosmopolitan. Bohemian chic that’s entirely approachable by all walks of life.”
There’s even more than meets the eye at the Tobacco Row space ripe for expansion.
This business duo are already at work on a downstairs space that will be used as an event space and complimentary concept to 2113. In a private tour, there’s a vision for a rooftop bar with potential for outdoor concerts and cocktails.
The journey to becoming business partners goes back to both their beginnings.
Ayars has entertaining in his blood. Born in Vegas, his father was Liberace’s musical director. The late entertainer is the Godfather to him and his brother. In the late 1980s, his family moved to the East Coast, he went to school at William & Mary and taught history at the Royal Hospital School in England. After teaching, he returned to George Mason University to study law.
“My family thought I was crazy because they were into musicals. And I’m the one that decides to go to law school.” he said.
Growing up in upstate New York, La Vancher started his career as a volunteer fireman in his hometown. At 21, he moved into law enforcement, then took a sabbatical to pursue acting dreams in New York City. He studied at the American Musical and Dramatic Academy for a year and a half before moving to London. With a suitcase and $1000, he found his way to Morgan Lewis, an international Law Firm. After returning to upstate New York, he resumed his career in law enforcement and became president of a labor union.
While balancing that career, he opened Tilt Nightclub in Rochester, NY – a gay nightclub still in operation 10 years later. ”Cop by day, nightclub owner by night.” La Vancher said.
La Vancher ended up in Virginia with family and began working on a few projects. The two met in 2008 in Norfolk where Ayars was a circuit clerk.
The team opened a coffee business together in Williamsburg, which they continued operating through last year as they put the final touches on 2113.
“That was a good introduction for us to working together and kept a roof over our head while we started building this place from the ground up,” Ayars said.
As for the acting bug in the family? Does it ever strike Ayars?
“I have this now. This is essentially a stage. Whenever we open our doors, it’s a curtain call.”
2113 is located on 2113 E. Main St., Richmond, VA and online at 2113main.com. Family & Friends Fourth Friday is Friday, June 22, 6:30 p.m. – 9:30 p.m. To RSVP or join the Fourth Friday mailing list, visit Socializer.
Kevin Clay is the editor and publisher of GAYRVA.COM. He is a Richmond native, loves the city and knows it's on the edge of greatness. Don't hold back RVA. You can follow Kevin on GAYRVA's Twitter or e-mail him at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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