J.R. Hadley has eaten a lot of nachos. When traveling around the country to Pittsburgh Steelers games, Hadley and his friends often ordered nachos to go along with their cold beers at various bars and restaurants. They would rank the nachos according to chip integrity, dispersion of ingredients (nobody likes a naked chip), quality of the cheese and other toppings and, of course, overall taste.
“I’m a nacho snob,” the Boylan Heights owner admits. And at his new spot, Cho’s Nachos and Beer, set to open later this month in the former McGrady’s Irish Pub space on Grady Avenue, the nacho is king.
It’ll have share-size and individual portions of cheesy nachos with Cabot sharp white cheddar; TexMex nachos; short rib nachos; buffalo blue cheese nachos; tuna nachos with sushi-grade tuna, avocado, jalapeño peppers, wasabi aioli and pickled radish piled on top of wonton chips; dessert nachos such as s’mores nachos; plus sandwiches and salads for any nacho-haters.
Lindsey Daniels, who co-owns Cho’s with Hadley and Kristin Roth (who, along with her husband, Scott Roth, founded McGrady’s), says that Cho’s, which is slated to open by Super Bowl Sunday, will have a full bar with 15 beers on tap—“mostly craft, mostly local, from Virginia, Maryland and North Carolina,” she says—plus bottled beer, wine and cocktails.
As far as Hadley knows, this is the first nacho-concept restaurant in the country. “Most bar kitchens have nachos just because,” Hadley says. “But nachos is what we’ll do here.”
Champion Brewing Co. keeps on growing. In addition to its current brewing and taproom operation in Charlottesville and the planned opening of Brasserie Saison in February, Champion is set to open a brewpub by January 31 in downtown Richmond.
Champion president and head brewer Hunter Smith says the spot, located in an old bank building at 401 E. Grace St., differs quite a bit from Champion’s basic-but-comfortable Charlottesville taproom. Champion Richmond has vaulted ceilings and a mezzanine, and while it’s more than twice the size of the Charlottesville taproom, the Richmond location lacks an outdoor patio space.
Another difference? Champion Richmond will have food onsite: a tacos and tortas menu created by chef Jason Alley of Richmond’s Pasture and Comfort restaurants.
Smith says the Richmond taproom will offer the same walk-up bar style that Charlottesville patrons have come to enjoy, plus a growler station, to-go beers and TVs for sports-watching.
Cary Carpenter, formerly of Parallel 38, The Whiskey Jar and Champion in Charlottesville, will manage the Richmond taproom.
Ken Rayher, former lead brewer at Richmond’s Hardywood Park Craft Brewery, will guide Champion’s Richmond brewing operation. Rayher, who’s really into lagers and has been brewing at Hardywood since 2013, plans to offer several new beers exclusive to the Richmond brewpub. “I tend to gravitate towards continental lagers and somewhat obscure historical styles, so look for some of the former that haven’t been done in Richmond before, and some new twists on the latter,” Rayher says. “I’ve been having a lot of fun playing around with refermentation on fruit and mixed fermentations lately.”