Coworking finds its home in Richmond @804RVA

Over the past decade coworking spaces have been popping up in big cities across the nation and with the changes in the economy, these spaces have been successful in fostering new ideas and startup businesses.

Larkin Garbee

804RVA Founder Larkin Garbee Photo by: Phil Riggan,

In America the median income for independent workers is about $51 thousand, according to a 2012 government report by the State of Independence government report. This coworking movement has even made its way to the Richmond market. 804RVA is the area’s first and only official co-working space, which is fueled by creativity and techie innovation.

Coworking is a concept that was originally cultivated in the late 1990s from the term “jelly” in New York City by a group of freelancers and it has now evolved into a worldwide movement. The concept is to create a shared workspace for freelancers, consultants and other people who typically work from home. The idea is to develop a space where creativity and new ideas can grow and people can exchange designs while working productively and freely.

804RVA was founded October 2011 by local small business dynamo, Larkin Garbee. “I was just looking for a creative, collaborative office space and I hadn’t understood the coworking culture yet,” Garbee said. Wolf shirt days, creativity, collaboration and jelly pretty much sum up the co-working movement at RVA. 804RVA is located on the corner of Allen and Broad streets near the VCU campus.

Garbee’s personality and experience is the model that the 804RVA coworking structure was built around. “I have a passion for technology but I also represent a lot of other things for small businesses and marketing,” she said.


804RVA is an artistic, joint office area that is built in the showroom of Garbee’s other business, James River Tile. “I felt like it was a shame to have such a really gorgeous location that was being completely underutilized,” said Garbee. It wasn’t long before 804RVA was created.
“I think Larkin is really kind of the main reason most people are attracted to this and keep coming and that’s because she is a freaking fireball,” said Dorsey McFadden a digital marketing consultant and 804RVA coworker.

804RVA provides its members with varying levels of coworking zones including private offices, collaborative spaces, semi-private work areas and conference rooms. People come to 804RVA for a number of reasons including the value of working with others, for a sense of motivation, inspiration and unique networking opportunities. At 804RVA coworking gives people an opportunity to meet and interact with their peers in an environment that facilitates productivity and learning.

“To me and the next generation as a whole, we don’t want to just spend our time just passing out business cards. We want to learn, we want to get our hands on stuff and figure out how it works,” Garbee said. “Some coworking spaces are unique to having strictly just developers or just designers and I would say ours is truly a mix.”

Coworkers at 804RVA come from a variety of professional backgrounds such as web design, real estate, copy writing, web developing, marketing and researching.


804RVA is known for its culture because it is different from that of a traditional workplace culture, since there are no bosses there is no tension between supervisors and workers. “The culture changes day-to-day depending on who comes in,” said Dan Kanach, 804RVA coworker and owner of One Duck Creative, a small creative media company. “It is generally like-minded, driven people who want to be around other driven people.” Most 804 coworkers agree that 804RVA provides a fun environment where individuals are free to create and collaborate. “I couldn’t see myself working with other people if I wasn’t here,” Kasach said, who described himself as a bit of an introvert.

Matt Russo is another 804RVA coworker who has been a member almost since the beginning. Russo is a freelance graphic designer and is currently working developing projects for 804RVA. He says 804 is still trying to invent its culture. Currently people are working hands-on trying to make the space a more active community rather than a place used strictly for working. “Members are trying to make 804RVA a place where people interact together, work on projects together and go out together,” Russo said. 804RVA offers classes and organizes social events to strengthen the overall coworking community.

Brian Bassett is a software development principal at IBM and a coworker at 804RVA who chooses to work from 804RVA instead of his traditional office setting because he finds the environment to be more dynamic, exciting, interesting and collaborative. “It’s collaborative even though people work on their own projects, work for different businesses and have different goals,” Basset said.


Coworking is especially helpful to freelancers and remote workers because it provides those people with a sense of community and inspiration. “It creates a melting pot of creativity,” McFadden said, “not just design creative but techie too.” McFadden sees coworking spaces as motivational tools and she is driven by the office setting because it pushes her to be more accountable.

Coworking facilities like 804RVA operate based on memberships and provide members with better quality networking and stronger relationships. McFadden says small business people get the most out of these networking connections because it makes it easier access others and collaborate.

Coworking has helped some members break into new, cutting edge technology-based job markets. McFadden says coworking helps to hone professional skills and mold individual qualities and as a result of 804RVA she landed her first Pinterest account management job.

After talking with Garbee and Richmond’s coworkers the consensus is that people are tired of waiting on big companies to offer up jobs so they have taken matters into their own hands and created new jobs and projects through collaboration. People often turn to coworking spaces like 804RVA because of the lack of opportunities in traditional careers.

Some people agree with Dorsey McFadden and Dan Kanach and say coworking spaces serve a greater purpose as more transitional occupations. On the other hand others agree with Russo and Bassett and say these collaboration spaces have great potential to ultimately lead to better opportunities and new industries. As for Larkin Garbee, she says the future looks bright for coworking spaces in Richmond. As new ideas grow and evolve, she looks forward to playing host to more collaborative projects and classes in the future. She is currently planning on a larger scaled coworking space that will serve a larger community in the Greater Richmond Area by making things more accessible to non-members.


Avalon Restaurant & Bar — SOLD!

sign for Avalon

2619 West Main Street, Richmond, VA

There are very few restaurants that have the distinction of having been successfully run for 16+ years 20 years [editor's note: confirmed after posting that the start year was 1993!], and even more rare is the restaurant that has done so with only one set of owners. Avalon Restaurant & Bar at 2619 West Main Street, in the Fan District, has done so under the care of owner Peter Harahan since he first renovated and opened it so many years ago.

Even as a well-established restaurant, Avalon has recently gained recognition by bringing in Chef Jen Mindell to add her well-known flair to the kitchen. Chef Mindell was recently recognized by the Richmond restaurant community as a 2013 Elby Nominee for “Rising Culinary Star”.

Walied Sanie and James Baldwin just completed the purchase of Avalon Restaurant & Bar

Walied Sanie and James Baldwin just completed the purchase of Avalon Restaurant & Bar

Congratulations to the new owners, Walied Sanie and James Baldwin (pictured), who took the reins from Peter Harahan effective late yesterday afternoon. The new owners are keeping the staff in place and will do some remodeling after getting settled into ownership. I look forward to seeing how their vision of the restaurant develops and the changes you will make happen over the years to come.

This particular restaurant holds a special place in my heart because not only have I been close friends with a number of the staff here over the years, but also it is the place where I met my wife several years ago. It means a lot to me to have been involved in this deal, and I appreciate that it will remain to be Avalon under the new ownership.

**Richard Holden and Nathan Hughes, both with Bandazian & Holden, Inc., brokered the sale of the business and coordinated the new lease with the owner of the building.

2013 Elby Award nominees have been announced!

Here at Bandazian & Holden, we are proud to be a Silver Sponsor of the 2nd Annual Richmond Magazine Elby Awards! This awards program is THE restaurant awards program for Richmond, Virginia and was a hit from the start, last year. This is a time when the stars of the Richmond restaurant scene (some of the ongoing conversation can be found under #rvadine in the Twitterverse) take time out to honor the best and brightest among them.

I have not been involved in the selection or judging processes, but I don’t envy such a difficult decision. We have a lot of great talent and passionate operators and chefs here in town, and I hope that these awards will continue to honor and encourage more talent to develop.

If you are in any way involved in the restaurant scene, I encourage you to buy tickets and attend. Come support your favorite spots!

The event is on Sunday, February 10, 2013 at the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts and the doors open at 6pm. The awards are held at 6:30pm with a reception afterwards.


Fine Dining Restaurant

  • Acacia Mid-town
  • Arcadia
  • Julep’s
  • Lemaire
New Restaurant (Opened between Nov. 1 2011 and Oct. 31, 2012)

  • Deco Ristorante
  • Heritage
  • Peter Chang China Café
  • Tio Pablo
Excellence in Service

  • Tiffany Gellner of The Magpie
  • Paul Heitz at Amour
  • Wendy Kalif at Bistro Bobette
  • John Van Peppen at Arcadia
Upscale Casual

  • Pasture
  • The Roosevelt
  • Sapori
  • Stella’s
Cocktail Program

  • Heritage
  • Lemaire
  • Pasture
  • The Roosevelt
Rising Culinary Star

  • Kyle Cox of Patina
  • Carly Herring of the Dining Room at the Berkeley
  • Jen Mindell of Avalon
  • Mike Yavorsky of Belmont Food Shop
Neighborhood Restaurant

  • Africanne on Main
  • The Black Sheep
  • Kuba Kuba
  • Tastebuds American Bistro
Restaurateur of the Year

  • Jason Alley of Comfort & Pasture
  • Kendra Feather of Garnett’s, Ipanema & The Roosevelt
  • Ren Mefford and Chris Tsui of EAT Restaurant Partners
  • Paul Keevil of Millie’s, LuLu’s and Tio Pablo
Chef of the Year

  • Tim Bereika of Secco Wine Bar
  • Peter Chang of Peter Chang China Café
  • Lee Gregory of The Roosevelt
  • Dale Reitzer of Acacia Mid-town
Culinary Student of the Year

  • Dana Goodchild at Culinard
  • Stephanie Louise Boehles at J. Sargeant Reynolds Community College
  • Jean Marie Kennedy at University of Richmond’s Center for Culinary Arts 


Who are you hoping will win? Who isn’t mentioned on this list that you think deserved to be on there? I would love to hear what you think!

What’s going on with all of the restaurant closings lately?!

There has been a lot of attention given to the recent closings of restaurants in the Richmond area. There have been a lot lately, no doubt — here is a list of closings this year from that they are keeping up-to-date as things change. Some of these have been big surprises to the community at large, but it is important to keep in mind a  few things.

Not all businesses close (or are for sale) because of poor sales. There are a variety of reasons:

  • personal issues (divorce, wanting to spend more time with children, need to take care of an elderly parent, the owner has an illness)
  • the business strategy has changed (the owners no longer want to be in a particular area of town, the owners only want to operate where they own the building)
  • the owners are absentee and have other full-time jobs that are suffering because of the demands of owning a restaurant
  • the business is on track to make a profit but the owners have run out of operating capital
  • the owner is burned out, having spent the last XX number of years in the same location
  • the owners realize that the best time to sell is when business is booming — cash out while things are good and maximize the sales price
  • poor money management — sales might be great, but if you don’t manage your money well then you won’t stay open for long
  • the landlord isn’t willing to renew the lease — maybe they have a better offer from another prospective tenant
  • the owner isn’t changing, but they are changing the concept
I have seen all of these over the 8 years that I have been brokering restaurant deals and I am absolutely certain that I haven’t seen everything. There is always something new in this business, for good and bad.

There is also the counterbalancing effect of new restaurants opening up. Karri Peifer, Editor and Food Writer at, has been keeping track:

Almost one year ago, we posted a story about the transitioning of ownership of one Richmond restaurant legacy, Mulligan’s Sports Grille. The past month (Tuesday, October 9, 2012, to be exact) has unfortunately brought us the end to this story — covered here by CBS6 and here by The restaurant’s official statement from their website is posted here (click the photo to enlarge) –>

Another restaurant that has gotten a lot of press coverage for its closing is Cafe Diem, at the corner of Patterson Ave and N Sheppard St in the Museum District — and right beside our office at 604 N Sheppard St. Since our company is involved in the ownership and management of their building, and most of the commercial property in the area, the media turned to us for some insight.

NBC12 coverage of Cafe Diem closing (with video and a guest appearance from yours truly) coverage of Cafe Diem closing

Richmond Bizsense coverage of Cafe Diem closing

I think the press has done an excellent job with the coverage on this closing. It is often a touchy subject, not only for the restaurant owner(s) but the landlord, the restaurant employees, the loyal patrons, the restaurant vendors, and even the surrounding businesses.

In short, there are lots of reasons why restaurants close. Sure, times are tough all around and lots of people are cutting back on spending, but that doesn’t tell the whole story. If anything, if you enjoy a particular restaurant, be sure to visit it plenty and enjoy it while it’s here. It is fun to always look for the next big thing, but don’t forget about the old favorites either.  — By the way, there are LOTS of new restaurants coming soon. Keep an eye out here for announcements!

Shop Locally, Boost the Economy

Over the past few years we’ve heard people talking about the importance of shopping local. These programs have been springing up across the country, urging consumers to join the “Buy Local” movement.

So, what difference does it make when communities shop at local businesses?

Well, the truth is when consumers buy from local stores instead of big box stores, more of their money stays in the community.

“Those purchases are twice as efficient in terms of keeping the local economy alive,” says The New Economics Foundation researcher David Boyle, in this article in Time magazine.

This movement plays a big role by boosting the economy and generating more jobs in the community.

Although sometimes the costs may be slightly higher at locally owned businesses, there are many benefits, such as lower transportation costs, more eco-friendly communities and the opportunity to form growing relationships with local business owners.

Buying local also alerts the community about the gaps in the market, creating a stronger sense of entrepreneurship and pushing for new businesses to prosper in markets that hadn’t previously existed locally.

When spend your money in RVA it keeps our neighborhoods unique with prospering local businesses versus streets lined with big box retail chains.

Here in Richmond, there are a few organizations that are dedicated to encouraging consumers to buy local goods and services. The Greater Richmond Retail Merchants Association is well known for their Think. Shop. Buy. Local movement, a large scale movement that works to promote the economic benefits of buying local goods by working across Richmond and the surrounding counties.

Originally created as a project at VCU, ShopRVA is a smaller nonprofit made up of local businesses, organizations, and individuals who are joined together to promote the culture and individuality of RVA. ShopRVA was created in 2009 and works to make RVA more green, economically and environmentally. Their goal is to make Richmond businesses into a strong foundation for a thriving local economy.

 “ShopRVA is new and filled with so much potential, people should listen to what they have to offer,” said Micah West, a student who worked with ShopRVA at VCU’s 2012 Social Media Institute. “They support the great things we have in the Richmond area and they want to express the creativity and personality of Richmond.”

These organizations work to remind us what makes Richmond such a unique city and they highlight why RVA is a wonderful place to live, eat, work and shop. With local restaurants on nearly every block, small markets throughout the Fan, and unique stores and boutiques in neighborhoods like Carytown and Libbie & Grove it is easy to shop RVA.

Falling 2Q Restaurant Trends- Fast Food vs Casual Dining

Have you noticed a decrease in the amount of people dining at your favorite restaurants lately?

Well, a recent expert analysis by the global investment banking firm, Jefferies & Co. shows national restaurant earnings trends have weakened during the second quarter. It may come as a surprise that quick service or fast food style restaurants are holding on strong against the falling market trends especially when compared to full service restaurants.

Nation's Restaurant NewsAccording to an article on Nation’s Restaurant News, full service restaurants have been hit the hardest during this recent decline.

The instability in the economy plays the largest role in consumers dining choices. According to Jefferies’ analysts:

“Customers continue to struggle with economic/employment uncertainty, and affordability and value matter more than ever.” (per the NRN article).

The article also said that despite efforts made by casual dining restaurants such as discount and promotions, net traffic is dwindling.

Analysts even found a correlation between the rise in gas prices and the decrease in the amount of restaurant traffic.

“While gas prices spiked in March and have since come down, sales trends across the full-service restaurant industry have decelerated,” the Jefferies team noted in their report.

So the question remains why are fast food businesses doing better than full service restaurants? Is it just because of convenience and affordability?

The truth is, quick service restaurants have been exploring new concepts such as: menu ingenuity, creative advertising, and well-priced quality food.

Many fast food establishments have revamped their menus and created campaigns that showcase their efforts to become more affordable options to casual dining.

So, what are full service restaurants going to do to regain business?

In the NRN article analysts noted that consumers are looking for value, service, and atmosphere. With a good business plan and those qualities full service restaurants will recover.

The Restaurant industry proves to be unpredictable, as noted in another recent article on Nation’s Restaurant News, see how casual dining is making its recovery.

As the national restaurant market has declined in the past few months, have you noticed a change in RVA? Would you prefer a fast food option to your favorite dining dive in the city?

VCU Economic Developments Foster More Than New Ideas in Richmond

We found this pretty interesting article on the other day about VCU’s latest technological and economic developments happening across the Richmond region. Over the past 15 years, the university has been pushing for technological advancements such as new medicines, new business partnerships and student work opportunities to create lasting relationships between local businesses and the university.

In the last year, VCU’s Technology Transfer office has helped kick start their economic development efforts. The office is a resource that helps connect students with an industry and works to transfer their ideas and inventions from the university to the local business community.

Some of VCU’s recent successes include:

  • A new FDA regulatory clearance for EViTAR, a catheter for drug and cell delivery.
  • Commercialization of EmergenOx, a device which provides medical-grade humidified oxygen in emergencies.
  • Licensing by Finis, Inc. for the marketing of SwiMP3, a waterproof recreational audio-device that transmits sound, using bone conduction.

Since VCU is a thriving creative community, the assistance of this program is essential because it provides students with resources and counseling to help get their ideas developed and sold into the Richmond marketplace.

Nicole Colomb, who has been hired to oversee VCU’s new push for economic development efforts, said forging closer ties with the business community will benefit the region by raising the university’s stature while creating jobs and attracting industry here.

(per the article in WorkIt, Richmond)

The Tech Transfer office has become a great resource for economic development across Richmond, as serves as a liaison between local businesses and VCU. As a resource for students to connect and create new ideas, the office generates innovations in the local economy.

So what do you think VCU’s Tech Transfer program can do for Richmond? A more creative marketplace, stronger regional economy, more entrepreneurship and more RVA based businesses and ideas.




VCU’s da Vinci Center helps Richmond become a top 5 for job creation



 During Rep. Eric Cantor’s  visit to Virginia Commonwealth University’s da Vinci Center for Innovation on Monday, he declared Virginia as an epicenter of job creation and entrepreneurship, according to an article on

A recent survey by Gallup showed Richmond, Va. in the top five metro areas for job creation out of the 50 largest United States Metropolitan areas. Richmond came in third behind Pittsburg, Pa. and Oklahoma City, Ok. as number one. More than 30% of employers are hiring and just over 14% are laying off workers.

Cantor, the R-7th and the House Majority Leader, toured the da Vinci Center-a collaboration of VCU’s School of the Arts, Business and Engineering-and was impressed with the presentations by two groups of students. “What I saw was a remarkable effort to bring the many assets of VCU together toward creativity and innovation,” he said.

The students are participating in a paid summer internship program, a program he also said encourages the want for students to create job opportunities that contribute to the markets growth in Richmond. Once the presentations were completed “Cantor asked how many of them are interested in becoming “job creators” later in life. Almost all of them raised their hands,” according to the article.

Each group is collaborating on real world projects for two Richmond businesses using their diverse backgrounds. One group is working on a project with The Martin Agency to make Tylenol dosing simpler and more accessible for parents. The other group is evaluating the Mary Frances Youth Center and coming up with ways to help the organization stay out of debt.

Future job innovators, like these VCU students, add to the growing list of Richmond jobs and job postings seen on websites like The job search website stated that “the Richmond, Va. job market is strong compared to the rest of the U.S.”  Job postings had a national decline of 32% while Richmond’s only had a 19% decline.

According to a The New York Times’ Economix blog post, surrounding Richmond cities, like Virginia Beach, have the highest proportion of employers laying off workers.

The da Vinci Center will continue to merge creativity, diversity and business minded students together  to help create innovative projects for job creation in the fall for the launch of its master’s program. Kenneth Kahn, the center’s director, said students will “come in with an idea and leave with a business.”

The Seven Hills of Richmond– Church Hill

Article from The Richmond Times Dispatch 1946

The Seven Hills of Richmond seem to have always been a controversial topic in RVA. Today, many people consider the Seven Hills to be a myth.

The truth is, the official Seven Hills were declared in a 1937 ordinance by the City of Richmond but the ordinance was never passed.

Since then, the confusion has only grown larger. In 1947 The Richmond Times Dispatch published an article that attempted to clear the air about the Seven Hills. The article said that there were various lists of Richmond’s original hills and the hills that were found in 1937 were not accepted by the City Council.

Although the Seven Hills were never made official, those neighborhoods have shaped the city’s history and are a part of what make RVA unique.

Church Hill is Richmond’s first neighborhood and home to most of RVA’s original 32 blocks. The Church Hill area is filled with Richmond’s oldest history from the red brick sidewalks and gas street lamps to the classical architectural styles.

St.John's Church 1865

St.John’s Church 1865– Library of Congress

The center of the historic district is  St. John’s Church, built in 1741, it’s where Church Hill gets its name.

St. John's Church 2012 St. John’s is the only Colonial structure in the area that remains intact.

During the 18th century Church Hill was the stomping ground for America’s early revolutionaries, like Patrick Henry. Who’s most well known for his “Give me Liberty or Give me Death” speech at St. John’s Church in 1775.

Richmond Va, Church Hill c. 1850s

A photo of Richmond from Church Hill in the 1850s –Valentine Museum

Classical Church Hill homeHome in Church Hill across from St. John's Church Hill homes near Libby Hill Park


*1742– Church Hill population reaches 250.

The history of Church Hill radiates from the streets since most of the area’s real estate was built before the Civil War.

The classic architecture is what makes Church Hill one of Richmond’s most unique neighborhoods.


Architectural styles on display throughout the neighborhood include: Greek Revival, Italianate, Federal, and Queen Anne. By the 19th century Church Hill was booming and the population in Richmond had reached 5,730.


People began moving to the area for job opportunities in local tobacco factories like the Pohlig Box Factory located on 25th street just blocks away from St. John’s Church. Tobacco factories and industrial buildings provided Church Hillians with jobs and boosted the local population…

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The Seven Hills of Richmond

Like Rome, Richmond, VA is a city that was built on seven hills. With all of the hills in Richmond, you may be wondering what are the “official” seven, where are they located and what makes these neighborhoods a great place to live in or own a business?

According to a 1937 ordinance by the City of Richmond, the seven official hills of RVA are:

  • Union Hill
  • Council Chamber Hill
  • French Garden Hill
  • Navy Hill
  • Gambles Hill
  • Shockoe Hill
  • Church  Hill

     Click on the map for an interactive view of the Seven Hills of Richmond

Here at RVAbusiness, we are going to explore Richmond’s neighborhoods, the “Seven Hills” and uncover what each neighborhood has to offer.  Stay tuned for more about the Seven Hills!