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Carytown Burgers and Fries starts petition after lease not renewed

RICHMOND, Va. – The flagship Carytown Burgers and Fries launched a petition recently, in hopes they can stay in their location and turn the tide against future development in the Richmond Shopping Center.

The burger shop has operated from their leased location at 3500 Cary Street since 1999, opening two other locations in Henrico with the same name. But now a company representative said the flagship business is at stake as the landlord prepares for future developments that will center around a Publix grocery store.

Carytown Burgers has known their lease would be ending for a while, said Chris Widmayer, Vice President of Investments for Regency Centers, who is working with the Richmond Shopping Center on a development plan.

Most tenants at the center have been on a month to month lease since last July, and while many remain, others have already relocated their businesses ahead of new development. 

“Richmond Shopping Center has worked with Carytown Burgers and Fries in anticipation of a possible renovation to provide them with time to find a new location for their business, including extending their lease after it was set to expire this month. We appreciate Carytown Burgers and Fries being a tenant for the past 20 years and wish them the best going forward,” Widmayer said in a released statement.

The lease was supposed to expire at the end of January 2018, according to Jordan Leonard, with Carytown Burgers. Leonard said they “begged and pleaded” for an extension to June 30, 2018.

“We would love to stay there if we can,” Leonard said. “It has been a huge challenge because second-generation restaurant space is really rare.”

“It’s not often you find a turnkey restaurant space, so we are looking at a big buildout,” Leonard added.

The six-acre parcel at the top of the so-called “mile of style” has been owned by a Richmond family for over a century, and mostly local vendors have operated out of the Richmond Shopping Center for around 70 years.

Publix bought the lease to the Martin’s which formerly anchored the center. It was one of 10 in the area to be remodeled, in addition to their newly constructed stores recently built in the Richmond-metro.

Martin’s sign coming down in July.

“We are excited to serve Carytown and still working through what those plans for our store look like with the landlord,” said Kim Reynolds, Publix media relations.

Regency Center is still working on a plan with the Richmond Shopping Center that will update the decades-old parcel, and could involve buildings being torn down, confirmed Widmayer, though plans are not finalized.

In July, Widmayer told CBS 6, in part, that “any future plans will contribute to the unique character of the neighborhood.”

The petition for Carytown Burgers states that the building is historic, though records do not indicate it is a registered historic building. Widmayer said it is not a registered historical building and they are still working through plans with what to do with the building.

Part of the structure may have been used as a home for the toll taker back when Cary Street was Westham Plank, as Carytown Burgers claims, but the structure has been heavily modified over the decades, Widmayer said.

Leonard said they wanted to use the petition for “public awareness that there are a lot of local businesses getting turned out for big bucks, mega companies.”

When asked to name examples of some of those companies, Leonard declined.

“We have seen there is a huge amount of support for our business and the local charm and feel of Carytown,” Leonard said. “Richmonders love Richmond and they want to see Carytown stay unique and eclectic.”

“They want it be recognizable and not in 10 years just run of the mill,” Leonard added.

Conversation surrounding the future of Carytown development is not new. In 2010, there was a movement to “Don’t Big Box Carytown,” that started when a developer turned a Verizon office into a 41,000-square-foot-retail property with a Fresh Market, PetCo, Chipotle and Panera. Eight years later and the stores are thriving.

Carytown Burgers said they don’t plan on going anywhere as a brand and a company, though the future of their 3500 Cary Street location is dubious.

“We aren’t sure how long it is going to take to find somewhere else,” Leonard said.

The petition, which has almost 4,000 signatures at time of publishing, will be presented to Fifth District Councilman Parker Agelasto.