Foode founders Joy Crump and Beth Black can explain their eatery’s brand in one word: Fredericksburg.
So when they set out to move the restaurant from its location on Caroline Street, the duo chose an iconic city landmark.
Foode reopened over the weekend in the National Bank Building at 900 Princess Anne St., the place where Abraham Lincoln once stood on the steps and spoke. It’s the same place where a slave named John Washington lived before he escaped to freedom and wrote a memoir. It’s a building where generations of locals did business.
“We’re doing what we’ve always done, but taking it to the next level,” chef Joy Crump said. “We listened to what Fredericksburg told us about the things they thought were charming and cut and the things they didn’t like so much.”
The renovation was a months-long project between Crump, Black, their business partner Jeremy Harrison, local developer and building co-owner Mike Adams and designer Jackie Payne.
The renovation has resulted in a 90-seat restaurant with two dining rooms, an open kitchen, seating inside the bank vault, a bar and refinished architectural features.
Black and Crump said the restaurant will have the same team and welcoming atmosphere, with an opportunity to showcase new culinary skills in a bigger kitchen for a larger crowd.
The restaurant was located in a much smaller space at 1006 C/D Caroline St. since it opened in 2011. It moved to the new location, in part, because of the lack of space in its old 30-seat dining room.
Black said the move was done, in part, to respond to criticism about the first iteration of the eatery: too few seats, too few hours, no bar and no table service.
A more functional kitchen will allow the team at Foode to showcase more technical cooking skills, she said. The kitchen is open for all diners to see, which Crump said creates a certain energy between the diners and kitchen staff.
Another aspect of the new location is a bar, which will focus on bourbon drinks and be supervised by Lindsey Marr, who has worked as a manager for Foode for years.
Crump said it has been challenging to keep the restaurant’s culture with the move.
“It’s something we worked so hard on—to make it approachable, inclusive. We’re very open-arms,” she said.
For example, the team discussed for two days whether servers should still be allowed to wear t-shirts.
With 17 new positions, Foode now has a total of 48 employees.
Those employees have been paying close attention to every facet of the restaurant, from the design, to the construction to the food.
“It’s a geek-fest on all levels,” Crump said.
Payne’s design retains aspects of the bank, like a teller window and deposit counter. It also incorporates portraits of Abraham Lincoln and John Washington. The Washington portrait, by local artist Gabriel Pons, is made up of Washington’s own words describing the view from the room it hangs in.
“It was important for us to tell his story,” Black said.
Crews restored the original wood floors, replaced the slate roof, refinished mantles and banisters and built a brand-new, modern restaurant kitchen— to name just a few of the renovation’s accomplishments. One important piece of history that could not stay were the steps facing George Street that Lincoln is reported to have spoken from. A building inspector deemed them unsafe, so they were donated to the Fredericksburg Area Museum and Cultural Center for display.
Adams was among Foode’s first customers, and according to Crump and Black, their biggest fan.
“For the longest time I wanted to see them in a venue that allows them to live up to their potential … and to showcase their talent,” Adams said.
For the next six months, he’ll continue renovations in the building, focusing on his upstairs offices.
The Foode team went through several dry runs before opening to make sure all systems were in place.
”We want people to feel good, that’s what we’re about,” Crump said.
Black said when undergoing such a major change, it’s important to “surround yourself with people who work harder than you do.” I have that in Joy, in Lindsey, in Jeremy.”
Harrison was a long-time manager at Capital Ale House. He helped open that restaurant in Fredericksburg in 2007. And now, he’s helping the founding team open the new Foode.
”I always wanted to own my own business and being partners now with people I have so much in common with and work so well with is great,” he said.
He met Black and Crump after soon after Foode opened the first time and they have been friends ever since.
”This is just going to be such a fun place to be,” he said.
She said that while Foode has moved, and has made a number of improvements, she hopes to offer the same approachable food and service.
“Just because we moved doesn’t mean we’re a different restaurant. We’re the same Foode with a nicer address,” she said. “We worked hard to make this right.”