Richmond’s first shopping mall is enjoying a comeback.
Over the last few years, the Shops at Willow Lawn has transformed from a faltering mall to a thriving community.
Preparations are underway right now at Travinia Italian Kitchen and Wine Bar, a new restaurant that opens its doors next week.
“You can feel the energy when you’re here and I think that’s what people pick up on,” says Ralph Ruocco, Travinia’s Vice President of Operations.
Travinia’s owners chose Willow Lawn because of its location and positive vibe.
“With the owners kind of revamping the shopping center, giving it a facelift, putting in some new shops and things of that nature, it became a real easy decision for us,” said Ruocco.
That facelift, he mentioned, started several years ago, when the owners transformed Willow Lawn from a traditional mall into an open air shopping center.
Mall management also began actively recruiting new tenants, like Jeff Van Horn, who’s running specialty store Lucky Foot opens in September.
“For them to tell us that we were the kind of business they want here, that made us feel good. Made us feel like we’re doing the right thing, he says.
But the real happy campers are the customers, who now have more choices.
“There are a lot of nice stores. we’ve come here a couple times and the bar is packed. There’s an hour wait, so obviously a lot of people are coming here and enjoying what it has to offer,” says shopper Regina Jones.
What’s happening at Willow Lawn is having a ripple effect on Henrico County. Just around the corner on Staples Mill is another big business that opens tomorrow. It’s a gourmet specialty store and restaurant known as Southern Season.
Copyright 2014 by Young Broadcasting of Richmond