How Minibar rose to the top of the Bottom

RICHMOND, Va. — From forklifts to forks, spoons, and knives, Minibar chef and owner Micah Crump has had quite an interesting culinary journey.

After working warehouse jobs, the Richmond native started his career path as a dishwasher at the now defunct Europa Italian Cafe and Tapas Bar. Just one of the many Richmond Restaurant Group spots where Crump worked.

“I worked for them for a long time. Most of my cooking career has been working for [Richmond Restaurant Group],” Crump told Scott and Robey during a podcast recording session for Eat It, Virginia! “I got most of my knowledge from the kitchen from working with those guys.”

But it was in the kitchen at Europa where Crump made the move from washing dishes to creating the food served on them.

“Frank Crump, that’s my cousin, he was working there at the same time. He was, I think, one of the executive chefs there. I was like, ‘man, put me on the line.'” Crump recalled. “So he put me on the line. I stated at salads. And it just kind of grew from there. Working different stations and learning different techniques.”

Crump combined his in-the-kitchen learning with some classroom knowledge at Stratford University before going into business on his own. But he was not really on his own.

He was guided by the love of his life, and wife, Ashley Ramsey.

“She played a big part in it. Just pushing my cooking ability and my career the whole time,” he said.

Crump and Ramsey met at a red light in Shockoe Bottom, not far from where Minibar is now located (14 N 18th Street in Richmond).

Before opening Minibar nearly three years ago, the two started The 2020 Experience in 2012.

The 2020 Experience saw Crump serve as a private chef for dinner parties and date nights.

“A lot of people think it’s for the rich, but you can just be a regular person and have that service,” he said.

Still, Crump and Ramsey have fed their fair share of celebrities.

“There was one time, I think it was a Monday, me and chef were out having dinner,” Ramsey recalled. “We’re about to order our food and the phone rings. Chef is talking and he hangs up and says ‘someone needs me to cook right now.'”

The couple left money on the table for their drinks and got to work.

“We go to the grocery store. Chef picks up all of the stuff he needs for the reservation. We ring the doorbell [and] somebody comes and buzzes us in. It was a celebrity!” Ramsey said with a laugh. “I was completely frozen! I didn’t know what to do!”

IF YOU’VE LISTENED TO THE PODCAST AND THINK YOU KNOW WHICH CELEBRITY ASHLEY IS TALKING ABOUT, TELL US HERE FOR YOUR CHANCE TO WIN A MINIBAR GIFT CARD.

When they opened Minibar in 2016, Crump and Ramsey saw many former 2020 Experience clients come eat their food at the restaurant. Crump said they’ve also built a buzz around the restaurant by using social media and taking part in festivals that once filled the Shockoe Bottom streets.

“I think they should bring the festivals back,” Ramsey said when asked what Richmond could do to improve business in Shockoe Bottom. “The festivals have been very beneficial in the growth of Minibar. We’ve gotten so many customers from that. Each time there’s a festival out there, we’re always the first to sign up and go out there and vend. We’ve had nothing but positive experiences.”

If there’s a Virginia restaurant or food story you’d like to hear, email Scott and Robey here.

Places Mentioned in this Episode
Minibar
Early Mountain Vineyards: Virginia Vineyard
Barrel Thief Wine Shop & Café
Saturday Morning Cafe (in Baltimore)
Fine And Shapiro’s Jewish Deli (New York City)
The Black Rose (Boston)
Southern Kitchen
Pig and Brew
Morton’s
Fatty Smokes Barbeque Joint
Oak & Apple

 

NOTE: Fire, Flour, & Fork tickets go on sale Friday, August 16. For event and ticket information, click here.

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