Once known as the Harlem of the South, Jackson Ward has its roots in minority-owned businesses and one new business owner, himself a member of a minority group, aims to add a bit of flavor near downtown RVA.
Gay business owner Trey Wilkerson recently opened The Reachmonde Restaurant in Jackson Ward to bring his mix of Mediterranean and Southern Soul Food to the scene.
Originally from Charlottesville, Wilkerson flocked to Richmond for its diversity and booming restaurant scene.
The 30-year-old has been involved in the restaurant business for over 20 years and got his first taste of the industry as a kid as in his grandmother’s restaurant The Back Porch in Ocracoke, N.C.
“I used to go down when I was a kid, like six-years-old and hang out in the kitchen and it’s always been my passion,” he said.
He also dabbled in different cuisines over the years which also fueled the fire.
“I grew up working in a soul food restaurant in Charlottesville, the only one that’s ever been there,” he said. “Worked around Lebanese people, Moroccan people, Italian people,Greek people in different restaurants so I enjoyed all of them and they kind of mesh well together.”
Wilkerson said with Charlottesville business being mostly seasonal because of college students, he decided to set his eye on Richmond to branch out to do something on his own.
“I liked the diversity here, it has every walk of life and it’s really cool,” he said. “The people here have been very welcoming we’ve had a lot of support.”
Wilkerson looked for about six months in Richmond before spotting a Craigslist ad for the 1,250-square-foot space and jumped at the chance. He opened May 5th at 219 E. Clay St. in Jackson Ward.
He described the menu as a combination between Mediterranean and soul food.
“We have a lot of the classics like fried chicken, catfish, jambalaya… We’re going to be doing some different pastas with southern flair mixed with Mediterranean,” he said. “We’re also doing delivery of our full menu and you can order anything and well bring it to you so that’s really picking up for us too.”
And Wilkerson said he hasn’t had anything but positive support from the Jackson Ward community.
“People that know me, know, and if they ask me I’ll be completely honest with them, but everybody here has been welcoming nobody really cares who you are.”
The Reachmonde Restaurant is serving lunch and dinner for now, but Wilkerson said he plans to start up a drag brunch once he gets rolling.