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Richmond restaurants open doors to raise money for hunger nonprofit

The exterior of Rowland, a restaurant in Richmond.
Crixell Matthews
Rowland, located along West Main Street, is among the 40 local eateries participating in Richmond Restaurant Week, which runs through Sunday. (Photo: Crixell Matthews/VPM News)

Starting Monday, dozens of locally owned restaurants in the Richmond region will open their doors for Restaurant Week to raise money for Feed More — a member of Feeding America and Meals on Wheels America.  

The nonprofit collects, prepares and distributes food across Central Virginia through 270 agencies that include churches and food pantries. Food from Feed More also goes to the Kids Cafe, Mobile Pantry and the Weekend BackPacks program. 

Community Engagement Manager Christy Dalton said right now, about one in nine people in the Richmond area lack consistent access to enough food. 

“That’s nearly 11% of our population, and it's about 165,000 individuals. So, we are looking to help those people,” said Dalton, who added that every dollar donated to Feed More helps provide four meals for individuals in need, including seniors and children. 

Since 2001, Richmond Restaurant Week has raised more than $900,000 to support hunger-relief efforts, supplying more than 3-million meals with those funds. 

The week highlighting local restaurants was started by former Acacia owners Aline and Dale Reitzer, who saw similar events being held in other cities and wanted to bring it to Richmond, according to Dalton. But instead of just getting people out to eat, they wanted to add a charitable element to the proceedings. 

“It's really a great time to not only support a local restaurant, [but] you're also supporting a local charity,” Dalton said. “It's really a fun way to go out and enjoy some great food while also doing good for your community.” 

She said it’s a good time for people to try a restaurant that might otherwise be a bit out of their price range. Each participating restaurant will offer a three-course meal at a fixed price of $35.22 — with $5.22 going to Feed More. 

The list of eateries — 40 in all — runs the gamut of cuisine, from fine dining at Alewife, Southbound or The Roosevelt to menus from the Boathouse, The Hard Shell Downtown, Lucky AF and Sam Miller’s. Casual dining includes Tazza Kitchen, Tang & Biscuit and The Daily Kitchen & Bar in Carytown. Southern specialties can be found at Southern Kitchen.  

One of the eateries participating in the event, which runs through Oct. 30, is Rowland on West Main Street in Richmond. Owner Bruce Rowland said he’s been participating in the event for 17 years, though at first, he’d never heard of it.  

“[The building] used to be Stella's, and Stella's did it. And that's how we learned about it,” said Rowland. “We got a lot of business out of it. And we raised a lot of money for the food bank.”  

Part of Rowland’s three-course meal includes roasted butternut bisque and artic char — which he said tastes like a cross between salmon and trout.   

Rowland said even though his restaurant doesn’t make a lot of money during restaurant week — because the margins are low — it’s for a good cause.

“You are also getting people in your restaurant that normally wouldn't come,” he said. 

Ian M. Stewart is the transportation reporter and fill-in anchor for VPM News.