Rick Barker, owner of Mucho Taqueria and Tequileria on Craghead Street, plans to open a second eatery behind that restaurant and has sights set for a third next year.
He also hopes to bring an Airbnb project to the River District in 2021.
The success of Mucho has let Barker know it’s time for additional dining options in the area next to the restaurant that opened in March 2018. He has been developing the 500 block of Craghead Street since 2015.
The Garage Artisan Smoked Meats would open in October behind Mucho in a 1940s garage at 530 Craghead St., Suite 200.
The eatery would serve traditional Memphis-style barbecue including pulled pork, barbecue chicken, brisket, chicken wings and “traditional sides with a twist,” Barker said.
The restaurant would have limited seating and be primarily takeout, he said.
Richmond-based Parry Restaurant Group, which manages Mucho, will manage The Garage.
A second dining establishment, a high-end seafood restaurant, is in the works to open in 2020 next door to Mucho, Barker added. The three businesses would share a courtyard currently used by Mucho customers.
Barker’s vision is to have the three eateries with different price points complement each other, where patrons can get a sandwich at The Garage and grab a table in the courtyard to enjoy a margarita from Mucho, Barker said. The seafood restaurant would be a fine-dining option.
“They’ll be intentionally designed to play off one another to make it a worthwhile drive from Greensboro or Chapel Hill, [North Carolina],” Barker said.
He plans to begin work on the seafood restaurant by the end of the year.
Danville Economic Development Director Telly Tucker said of Barker’s development in the River District, “What Rick is doing on Craghead Street is transformational. When I arrived in Danville five years ago, there was no redevelopment activity going on in the 500 block of Craghead Street. Under Rick’s leadership and vision, the block is now becoming one of the more popular blocks within the district.”
Rick Barker Properties is developing the restaurant and Airbnb projects.
George Davis III, chairman of the River District Design Commission, said Barker’s plans and development in River District is “terrific” for Danville, especially for the residents in that area.
As for Barker’s idea for an Airbnb project in the former Nabisco building at 546 Craghead St., Davis believes it would be a success.
“An Airbnb will do well,” Davis said. “It may be something that won’t catch on, but I don’t see how it won’t.”
The old Nabisco building was built in 1913. The Airbnb project would be more like a limited-service, locally-owned small hotel where customers would book online through Airbnb.
Alexis Ehrhardt, president of the Danville Pittsylvania County Chamber of Commerce, said an Airbnb establishment would add another option for visitors in Danville, especially for parents staying in town to visit their children at Averett University.
“From a tourism perspective, the more amenities in the River District, the better so people can come and stay and eat in the district,” Ehrhardt said.
When Barker opened Supply Resources Inc. four years ago at Craghead, “we found ourselves in a recently renovated building, but we also couldn’t ignore that we’re in four blocks of continuous blight,” he said.
“My thought at the time was one of the best ways to change the dingy image of Craghead, to infuse it with energy was to create restaurants that were hip and cool to make them popular destinations,” Barker said.
Mucho brings people to Craghead, he added, and Barker said he has been delighted by others’ investments at the lower end of the street.
“The image of the 500 block has gone from the most blighted commercial block … to a very desirable business address,” Barker said.
Crane reports for the Register & Bee. He can be reached at (434) 791-7987.