An urban breakfast has a new face with its waffle irons.
521 Biscuits & Waffles, the four-year-old restaurant at 521 E. Main St., has been sold to a new owner.
Fredericksburg native Damien Eure is the new owner after buying the business last month from married couple Aaron Bond and María José Mejía Ruiz for an undisclosed amount.
Bond and Mejía Ruiz opened 521 in 2018, offering an exclusively gluten-free menu — an approach Eure said it would keep.
“It will always be 100% gluten-free,” Eure said. “We are going to keep the name and the concept but change the menu. The basic elements that I do not touch at all. »
The main menu change will be to add lunch options, which will come with extended opening hours for the shop.
“Right now, it’s not a place to eat at all. Every time we went (around lunchtime) the doors were closed but there were people waiting to get the food. I said, ‘Dang, if you just open the doors,’ Eure said.
521 Biscuits & Waffles is Eure’s first time owning a business, and he currently has a day job as a power plant operator in Fredericksburg that he keeps.
When he set out to find a restaurant business to acquire, Eure said he was looking for a taqueria, which he was motivated to do after being stationed in California in the late 1990s while in Marine.
“I saw some things in my travels that I wanted to transplant. Howard Schultz with Starbucks, he took what he saw to Italy and brought it to the United States,” Eure said.
“I was looking for a taco shop. The location (521) was perfect for a California style taco shop, but the product was excellent. I’m not gluten free, but I tried it and it was better. I was really impressed. My whole model has been changed.
Bond and Mejía Ruiz were looking to sell 521 cookies and waffles for several reasons, including going through the wringer of the pandemic and their desire to have more time to raise their young children.
“We were just finding that to provide the service we want and make the adjustments we wanted to make would take a lot more attention away from our family,” Bond said.
He added that he and Mejía Ruiz both had full-time jobs while running the restaurant. Bond works as an urban planner with the city, while Mejía Ruiz works for the VCU Massey Cancer Center.
Bond said 521’s clientele has evolved over the years in unexpected ways.
“We were definitely starting to get more and more traffic from the downtown business community. We wanted that to be our primary customer base,” Bond said.
“But we’ve found that we’re actually getting more business from families all over the Richmond area and especially people traveling to Richmond for everything from sports tournaments to shows. We have been blessed by the relationships we have built across the city and the families who have continued to entrust their business to us,” he said.
After taking over the business in late April, Eure ran the shop for a few weeks but has since closed it temporarily to better prepare and bolster its three-person workforce.
“The first two weeks have been eye-opening. The demand is absolutely there,” Eure said, adding that he plans to reopen the store in the coming weeks.
Bond said he and Mejía Ruiz were not ruling out a possible return to the hospitality industry one day.
“I don’t think we’re taking our options away, but right now we’re probably just focusing on our family and enjoying a bit more free time,” he said. “We both work in the city, so we’ll be there. Hopefully, when the time is right and the idea is good, we’ll try our hand at another entrepreneurial project.