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Buying and Selling Real Estate in Richmond VA
The 162-unit condominium tower is under construction between 14th and Virginia streets north of the canal's Turning Basin. "I think it's going to be bustling," said Jody Pennette, whose company plans to open Blanc Bleu restaurant and lounge that is part of the Riverside on the James development. "When there's enough places gathering together, it becomes a destination." Richmond finished the $52 million restoration of the Canal Walk in 1999 in part to attract restaurants, nightclubs, housing and other development.
It will have a dramatic interior, with white upholstery, arches, mirrors, crystal chandeliers and sheer curtains, said Pennette, chief executive officer of CB5 Restaurant Group. Also in the spring, the Toad's Place of Richmond nightclub is expected to open in the renovated Lady Byrd Hat building on Virginia Street. Toad's Place, initially slated to open in October 2005, will have a capacity for 1,600 people and feature live music and other entertainment.
Jody Pennette, the founder ...
Jody Pennette, the founder of CB5 Restaurant Group, revealed to Forbes that restaurants have been raising the prices of appetizers "disproportionately to the increase in food costs" over the past 15 years.
Creating a restaurant concept is like directing a movie, says Jody Pennette, CEO of Cb5 Restaurant Group.
"I'll write the script.
The chef is the star," he explains.
"Even if we write the menu, he still performs it."
The company has created more than 55 concepts.
Each is completed in about 90 days by a team of industry experts.
is held up by construction delays, but the company tries to "hit the ground running," Pennette
The company brings training trailers onsite so staff can be trained independently of construction.
"It's kind of like a boot camp for waiters and traveling kitchens," Pennette
is unique because it's "not one person's vision.
The name comes from a children's book featuring five Chinese Brothers, each with a different talent.
"Together, they were invincible," Pennette
"I'm not a chef but I understand restaurant dynamics.
needed people who understood the different components of creating a successful concept, such as wine, design and the perspective of a chef.
"Together, all these elements and good pedigrees are tough to beat."
amazed the company has been able to attract such a strong team.
"Based on travel requirements and time away from home, it's tough to even maintain a gold fish working for us," he
"We spend about 300 days on the road a year."
But the company is able to "attract hardcore restaurant people," because it offers them a rare opportunity to feel they've finished their job, he
"It's a moving target when you build a restaurant," Pennette
"Otherwise, it's like handing a Lamborghini over to a guy who works on Chevys," Pennette
"Even though both are cars, performance is much more important in a more precious venue.
"At the same time, we try to eliminate volatility by eliminating the dependence upon one individual," he
says there is no one "big thing" that makes a restaurant a success.
"It's about balancing menu, aesthetic [and] architecture with the waiter script, the lighting, etc., and tying all these messages together to form a specific point of view or attitude.
This creates a strong personality and is easily telegraphed to the marketplace."
This approach works well in the hotel industry, Pennette
works with hotels to reinvent their restaurants and is dedicated to this niche.
"Hotels are not used to making money in restaurants," he
"The energy they're seeking is that of a cocktail party," says Jody Pennette of CB5 Restaurant Group, a Greenwich, Conn.-based firm that designs restaurants for hotels.
"They don't want to come off as flat-footed," Pennette says of Marriott's (MAR) lobby food offerings.
"The boutique-hotel market made [hotel and restaurant] operators recognize that the right hotel dining experience can sway opinion of where to stay," says Jody Pennette, CEO of CB5 Restaurant Group, a Greenwich, Conn.-based restaurant design and concept company.