Mac and cheese restaurant opening in Richmond

Jayme and John Taxin are giving their pop-up mac and cheese idea a everlasting dwelling on Arthur Ashe Boulevard. (Mike Platania/Courtesy of BigWife’s)

The household behind Bookbinder’s Seafood & Steakhouse are moving into an entire new course for his or her second idea, one that may mix an inside joke with savory dishes on Arthur Ashe Boulevard.

John and Jayme Taxin are getting ready to open BigWife’s Mac n’ Cheese at 1017 N. Arthur Ashe Blvd in Scott’s Addition. The 1,200-square-foot house was beforehand dwelling to Growlers To Go earlier than the beer store closed final fall.

Whereas Bookbinder’s has provided upscale fare like escargot and filet mignon steaks on white desk cloths in Shockoe Backside because the early 2000s, John Taxin mentioned BigWife’s might be almost the precise reverse really feel, providing a menu of primarily macaroni and cheese dishes and some salads, all priced between $8 and $12.

BigWife’s started final summer season as a pop-up when Taxin was attempting to maintain Bookbinder’s afloat through the early days of the pandemic, whereas additionally pondering a lifelong dream of his: having a restaurant that serves just one dish.

“We did takeout right here, however what number of lobsters are you able to promote for takeout?” Taxin mentioned. “It’s so tough to do what we do (at Bookbinder’s). There’s a lot work and it’s important to purchase a lot product. My dream was to do one thing super-duper easy. I’d talked to my chef about that for years.”

That one dish he’d serve was the one Jayme, his spouse, craved most whereas pregnant years in the past. Jayme’s affinity for mac and cheese led to an affectionate nickname for her amongst their household.

“(Jayme) was the happiest pregnant woman you ever met in your life and he or she had a fame in our household as a giant eater. Everyone else could be weight-reduction plan and he or she’d be chowing down when she was pregnant,” Taxin mentioned, laughing.

“Once we’d go to the physician as she’d get bigger and bigger, she’d get on the size and have this huge large smile on her face. Since my kids have been born, she has been nicknamed — and we don’t name her it on a regular basis — she’s identified via the household because the BigWife.”

The restaurant’s menu consists of Greek and Bolognese variations on mac and cheese, amongst others.

The title was met with some apprehension from some on the restaurant, however Jayme was amused by the concept and signed off on it. “She didn’t bat an eye fixed,” Taxin mentioned. “She was a part of the choice.”

“I mentioned, ‘Nicely the best-worst factor that would occur is I’ll need to go on Good Morning America and clarify why I’m utilizing that title,” Taxin mentioned.

As a pop-up run out of Bookbinder’s, BigWife’s fared nicely till Bookbinder’s was capable of open with out of doors eating and a restricted variety of indoor tables. Enterprise on the steakhouse picked up and Taxin didn’t have time to maintain operating BigWife’s usually.

By the winter they determined to solely pop-up BigWife’s on weeknights when Bookbinder’s was much less busy, promoting round 50 dishes of mac and cheese every evening. A sandwich board exterior Bookbinder’s marketed BigWife’s, and Taxin mentioned he’d typically stroll as much as Church Hill handing out fliers about it, however they in any other case did no advertising and marketing for BigWife’s.

Then one random Tuesday evening, Taxin mentioned, certainly one of BigWife’s social media posts obtained picked up by a meals weblog and CBS6 aired a narrative on it. They rapidly obtained extra orders than they might deal with.

“The chef was within the kitchen, shouting like “Shut it down!” as a result of we may solely make so many,” Taxin mentioned, laughing. “The whole bar was stuffed with baggage filled with mac and cheese.”

The recognition prompted Taxin to contemplate a everlasting dwelling for BigWife’s, which led him to the previous Growlers To Go constructing on Arthur Ashe Boulevard. He not too long ago finalized a lease for the house, with Divaris’ Learn Goode representing him in negotiations.

BigWife’s might be an solely to-go and supply idea with no seating.

The pop-up began at Taxin’s longtime Shockoe Backside restaurant Bookbinder’s.

Its menu will embrace variations on mac and cheese like bacon and gruyere, scorching rooster and gorgonzola, and broccoli and shiitake mushrooms. Taxin mentioned he’s dedicated to limiting the variety of objects on the menu and their value tags.

“The great factor about it’s it’s not costly. Folks requested, ‘Oh, are you going to have lobster mac and cheese?’ And I inform them no,” Taxin mentioned.

He mentioned he’d additionally prefer to construction the enterprise in a method that he may serve BigWife’s at occasions like Flying Squirrels video games, the place they’d pull up with pre-made dishes and miniature ovens to warmth and serve them. Past that, Taxin mentioned, he additionally aspires to have a number of BigWife’s areas.

“I feel now we have the chance for one thing huge,” he mentioned.

He’s aiming to open the idea in summer season 2022.

Whereas Bookbinder’s was capable of bounce again and BigWife’s discovered a full-time dwelling, the results of the pandemic nonetheless weigh heavy on Taxin.

He mentioned a supervisor and chef at Bookbinder’s every had a mother or father die of COVID earlier than vaccines have been accessible, and that he nonetheless worries in regards to the pandemic.

“My dream, and I’m considerably a dreamer, is to have the individuals which might be with me be part of the long run. My hope is certainly one of as of late to convey up the parents that work with me,” Taxin mentioned.

“From the embers of the Philadelphia (Bookbinder’s location in 2002) closing, to our success right here now and hopefully our future success with this new idea, I’m hoping for brighter issues sooner or later.”

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