RICHMOND, Va. (Richmondgrid.com) - With Monument City Coffee opening its doors at 306 East Grace Street, vinyl lovers like me have a whole new way to shop. And eat. And drink. In fact, you may never see or hear from me again.
About a year ago, Penny Lane bartenders Eric Truitt and Bobby Covert decided to take their dreams—opening a record store and opening a restaurant, respectively—and combine them. A perfect mash-up, if you will.
Covert puts it simply: “We want another record store, the neighborhood needs another coffee shop, why not do it in the same space?”
They couldn’t have picked a better time.
Vinyl comprises a tiny percentage of worldwide music sales, but that percentage has been growing steadily in recent years. Truitt attributes some of that resurgence to the medium’s physical nature.
“It’s the last tactile thing that people want to have. It’s something you can hand your friend. ‘Hey, check this out.’ You can think about art all day long, but once you see it and hold it and touch it, it makes it more real.”
But Monument City Coffee isn’t just out to capitalize on a trend. They’re responding
to a specific need they saw along the Grace Street corridor—an area they’ve grown to care deeply about during their time at Penny Lane.
“What makes any area start coming up is anchor spots,” Covert says. “We could easily become one of those. Every good neighborhood needs a decent coffee shop. Then you tie that in with the record culture, and one supports the other. Everything’s on the table for this part of downtown to experience a renaissance—it’s all there. We want to be part of that.”
“Some of it’s a leap, but a lot of it is just knowing everybody down here,” Truitt says of the familiar faces he’s been serving drinks to for the last seven years. “Whether it’s law offices or the Times-Dispatch—every one of these buildings, we know somebody in it.”
But all those faces don’t necessarily go home and fire up turntables, and Monument City is diversifying its revenue stream by offering Lamplighter coffee, beer and wine, as well as sandwiches, soup, bagels, salads and Sugar Shack donuts. It’s a mix of offerings that inspires confidence in Covert.
“If you’re not excited about the coffee, then you’re excited about the food. If you’re not excited about another place to eat, then you’re excited about the records. I think it’s a great concept and the right place at the right time for the right part of the city.”
Deep down, however, Truitt and Covert are record guys. Truitt has been buying records for 30 years, having grown up in a house where James Brown and Buddy Holly were mainstays. Likewise, Covert can remember his mother dancing him around the living room to Hall & Oates. Both are looking forward to seeing what type of store Monument City Coffee will become.
“As far as what kind of record shop we want to be,” Covert says, “I think that’ll be honed and formed over time, as much by us and what we purchase as the people who come in. Because it’s a community—they’re going to help form what kind of shop we are.”
This story was written by Davy Jones and originally published in Richmond GRID magazine.
Launched in July of 2009, Greater Richmond Grid has profiled living, working and playing in the region.
With an eye on innovation, inspiration and individuals’ accomplishments in Richmond’s business, retail, arts and entertainment, the magazine and its website (RichmondGrid.com) strive to profile the area’s creative vibrancy and authentic character.