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Couple revives 200-year-old Church Hill building as Grisette restaurant

RICHMOND, Va. — For its latest incarnation, a 200-year-old storefront is being revived as the newest entrant in the Church Hill food scene.

Grisette, a new restaurant from chef Donnie Glass and his wife Megan, soon will fill the long-vacant ground-floor space at 401 N. 27th St.

The restaurant adds to the centuries-long list of uses for the building, which historic records show was built between 1813 and 1815 by Charles Wills, captain of the local Camp Holly Militia during the War of 1812 in Virginia to house the Wills Store.

The two-story building at the corner of East Marshall and North 27th streets is believed to be the city’s oldest commercial building, according to records from Historic Richmond.

Over time, the building changed ownership and tenants – ranging from a radio parts store during the World War II era to a laundromat in more recent years.

The Glasses hope to open Grisette by late summer or early fall, with a concept that Donnie said will be his take on southern French-style cuisine, while incorporating a blend of popular foods caught and grown along the Mid-Atlantic and Appalachia.

“If Can-Can, Chicken Fiesta and Saison had a love child, it would be this,” Donnie said. “I don’t want people to call it just a French restaurant … it’s going to be more than that.”

Growing up in Northern Virginia, the Glasses have worked in the dining industry since college – eventually meeting while working at a Charlottesville restaurant.

A VMI and Johnson & Wales University’s College of Culinary Arts grad, Donnie got his start working at Parkside Rotisserie & Bar in Providence, Rhode Island, where he traveled as a cook working in Maine and New Hampshire.

In 2014, he served as executive chef of Public Fish & Oyster restaurant in Charlottesville, before he and Megan left in 2016 to pursue a job in Martha’s Vineyard. Looking to do something on their own, they returned to Virginia this year to launch Grisette.

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