The Whiskey Jar team gears up for new Mexican restaurant and more local restaurant news

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Cesar Perez, a sous chef at The Whiskey Jar, is teaming up with restaurant owner Will Richey to open The Bebedero in the former Glass Haus Kitchen space, with a focus on southern Mexican cuisine. Photo: Tom McGovern Cesar Perez, a sous chef at The Whiskey Jar, is teaming up with restaurant owner Will Richey to open The Bebedero in the former Glass Haus Kitchen space, with a focus on southern Mexican cuisine. Photo: Tom McGovern

Will Richey has something new up his sleeve. The owner of The Whiskey Jar, The Pie Chest, The Alley Light and Revolutionary Soup recently announced his plans to open The Bebedero, a Mexican restaurant in collaboration with The Whiskey Jar sous chef Cesar Perez and his girlfriend, Yuliana Perez Vasquez. Perez and Vasquez will run the kitchen together with the help of Vasquez’s mother and her family recipes from Veracruz, Mexico.

The menu will feature a lot of fish dishes, Richey says, because Veracruz is located in southern Mexico on the Gulf Coast.

“We want the food to be fresh and healthy and light,” Richey says. “We also want the food to be affordable so folks can come several times in a week for our lighter take on Mexican cuisine.”

And what goes better with a heaping plate of Mexican food than a giant margarita? The Whiskey Jar bartender River Hawkins, who happened to have spent last winter bartending in Yelapa, Mexico, is also on board. Hawkins is creating a cocktail menu that will highlight the Mexican classics tequila and mezcal. The Whiskey Jar manager and Culinary Institute of America grad Josh Zanoff has also joined the team as a part owner.

The Bebedero will take over the former Glass Haus Kitchen space, downtown at 313 Second St. SE. Richey hopes to have the place up and running by mid-March. We’ll keep you posted.

New brew

“The first time the beer sees the light of day is going to be when it goes into your glass,” says Bradley Kipp.

Kipp, a UVA Darden School of Business graduate who’s been living in Charlottesville with his family since finishing school in 2009, has teamed up with local long-time homebrewer and UVA hospital perfusionist Kevin McElroy to bring a new selection of craft beer to Preston Avenue. Random Row Brewing Company will let you get up close and personal with your beer, with the brewing equipment right in the middle of the taproom.

“We’re going to create an immersive experience,” Kipp says. “You’re drinking beer while looking at the equipment and actually getting the beer straight from the tanks themselves. It’s going to be amazingly fresh.”

Kipp says construction for the brewery, located in the former Moxie Hair & Body Lounge spot (you know, the metal building with the angled roof), will begin soon. They’re aiming for a late spring or early summer opening.

Critically acclaimed

We love to brag about the food scene here, and it seems the big guys are taking notice. The James Beard Foundation, a national nonprofit that recognizes culinary professionals and bestows what are known as the Academy Awards of the food world, has just named The Alley Light chef Jose De Brito and Peter Chang’s China Grill’s Peter Chang as semifinalists for best chef in the mid-Atlantic.

This isn’t the first time either of the local chefs has received a nod from the foundation. In 2015, The Alley Light was in the running for best new restaurant in the country, and Chang was invited to cook at the James Beard House in 2012 and 2013. Chang, who owns several restaurants on the East Coast, is on this year’s list specifically for his Peter Chang restaurant in Arlington, Virginia.

Other locals who have received accolades from the James Beard Foundation in past years include Parallel 38’s Justin Ross, The Ivy Inn’s Angelo Vangelopoulos, Melissa Close-Hart formerly of Palladio and Diane Flynt of Blue Ridge Cider.