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BizSense Beat: January 19, 2024

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BizSense Beat is a weekly collaboration between VPM News and Richmond BizSense that brings you the top business stories during NPR's Morning Edition on Fridays.

Here’s a recap of the top stories for the week of January 19, 2024:

City proposing tax policy changes in response to meals tax issues
Reported by Richmond Bizsense’s Jonathan Spiers

Publicity about escalating penalties and fees tied to multiple Richmond restaurants’ meals tax payments are prompting changes to the city’s tax collection practices on a broader scale.

City officials are proposing administrative and legislative changes to how taxes are collected and penalties are applied in response to recent media reports about restaurants that have been hit with high tax bills due to unknown late fees and interest charges accruing over time.

The recommendations were shared with City Council members last Thursday in a memo from Chief Administrative Officer Lincoln Saunders, who noted the media attention in presenting the proposals.

Distribution giant US Foods to build chef-centric grocery store in Henrico
Reported by Richmond Bizsense’s Mike Platania

An expansion-hungry grocery concept born out of a food distribution giant will soon be served up to the Richmond market.

US Foods is planning to build a new location of its Chef’Store retail chain at 7821 Shrader Road, according to plans filed with Henrico County.

Chef’Store offers wholesale groceries and kitchen supplies, marketed to both those in the restaurant industry as well as home cooks. Memberships are not required to shop at Chef’Stores, which carry produce, meat, dairy and dry ingredients, as well as kitchen and bar equipment.

Last month US Foods filed plans for the store, which would total 20,000 square feet and fill a wooded lot near the intersection of West Broad Street and Hungary Spring Road. The 2.2-acre parcel is owned by a local family and is under contract to be sold. Taylor Long Properties has the listing for the site.

Coffee chain 7 Brew underway on first local outpost in Chesterfield
Reported by Richmond Bizsense’s Jack Jacobs

A new-to-market coffee chain is aiming to open its first Richmond area location around Memorial Day, followed by a bigger push into the region.

Construction began this month on a 7 Brew coffee shop at 11 Le Gordon Drive in Midlothian. That from-scratch location is expected to be the first of five 7 Brew stores locally, most of which would be in Chesterfield.

The 7 Brew concept eschews indoor seating to focus on drive-thru service. The upcoming 500-square-foot Chesterfield outpost on Le Gordon is planned to feature two drive-thrus, a walk-up window and limited outdoor seating for roughly 10 to 15 people, according to local franchisee Brenda Creamer.

In addition to hot and iced coffee beverages, 7 Brew sells smoothies, teas, milkshakes, muffins and an in-house energy drink called 7 Energy.

Indoor play-place opens at Stony Point Fashion Park, with toy store and café to follow
Reported by Richmond Bizsense’s Jack Jacobs

Inspired by the classic parental challenge of keeping his kid entertained, a local entrepreneur has brought an indoor playground to Stony Point Fashion Park.

Dan Jenkins recently opened Sunshine Play at the South Richmond mall. The children’s play space features a ball pit and slides, play kitchen, games and toys among other equipment.

The playground is the first of several elements Jenkins has in mind for the business. An on-premises toy store is expected to open later this month and a cafe is in the works in a nearby storefront at the mall.

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