A longtime Arts District restaurant is getting ready to undergo a transformation.
Max’s on Broad at 305 Brook Road is preparing to close as owner RVA Hospitality makes way for a new concept in the space.
Owner Liz Kincaid said she can’t yet disclose details of what will replace Max’s, but that the evolution of the surrounding neighborhood influenced the decision to shift gears.
“One of my managers six months ago was like, ‘Did you notice the dining room looks different? These aren’t our old customers,’” Kincaid said.
“We’d never had so many young people and such a diverse crowd coming in. We were excited about it. The Arts District has just changed. There’s still a lot of people down here, it’s just a different demographic.”
The late Ted Santarella opened Max’s, named for his son, in 2013, offering French and Belgian cuisine served on white tablecloths. It has a raw bar downstairs and its upper level offers views of Broad Street and the Maggie Lena Walker statue at the intersection of Broad and Adams streets.
RVA Hospitality also owns the nearby Tarrant’s and Bar Solita, as well as Tarrant’s West in western Henrico. Kincaid is the sole owner of the business and rents the Max’s building from Ted’s widow, Frances Santarella, who had previously co-owned the restaurants with Kincaid but exited the business in late 2021. They also previously ran Little Saint in the Museum District but sold it in 2018 to a group that now operates Izzy’s Kitchen.
Kincaid said she’s aiming to open the new restaurant in Max’s space in late summer. She said Max’s last day of service will be April 1.
“We’re looking at a full renovation inside, it’ll be totally different,” she said.
Assisting with the branding and design is local firm Campfire & Co., which also helped RVA Hospitality with its conversion of the former Graffiato space into Bar Solita in 2018.
Kincaid added that she’s working with Max’s current staff to try to place them in jobs at RVA Hospitality’s other restaurants or find work outside the restaurant group.
Max’s was where Kincaid first became a general manager as she was working her way up in the industry. As she prepares to draw the curtains on the concept, she said there’s a feeling of bittersweetness.
“I was working here when I got married, so it’s been with me as long as my husband. There’s a lot of memories here with the guests and staff,” she said. “Being part of the Arts District, we have two other restaurants (in the neighborhood), so rather than sell the concept or space, I want to be here and be investing in this area.”
Note: This story has been updated with the scheduled last day of service.
I hope the new concept is a tad more affordable. Max’s was great, but more of a special occasion place for me. And when you had an off-meal, the price point made the experience less forgiving.
I hope the new concept keeps some of the details, like the gorgeous tile flooring.
Please include an elevator for people in wheelchairs. I would love to be able to eat in the upstairs part
Will certainly miss Max’s-just a wonderful place to enjoy a meal. I look forward to the new creation! A great group of people and Tarrant’s is an all time favorite!
Was their date or closing announced?