A Part of Richmond’s History
The downtown neighborhood in which the restaurant is located, The Shockoe Slip, earned its name from the Indian word Shacquohocan, meaning “flat stone”. Founded by William Byrd in the early 1600’s, the Slip was once the busy headquarters of tobacco and cotton barons who traded daily in the cobblestoned port below the falls of the James River. This vital business district was reduced to rubble when it was burned by retreating Confederate troops during the Civil War. It literally rose from the ashes as it was rebuilt soon afterward.
In 1973, Jearald Cable saw the potential of Shockoe Slip and proceeded to design what is now The Tobacco Company Restaurant. Cable envisioned a restaurant embodying the Victorian era when tobacco was Richmond’s major industry. The interior’s focal point was to be a three-story atrium with an exposed antique elevator to carry guests from the first floor cocktail lounge to the two dining floors above.
The building, once a tobacco warehouse, dates back to 1866. All brickwork, heavy beams, and columns are original to the building. The space was renovated and opened as The Tobacco Company Restaurant in July of 1977.
Once the construction was completed, the search began throughout the country for unique and unusual furnishings for the restaurant. One of our most recognizable antiques is our magnificent brass chandelier. It originally hung in the lobby of the Federal Reserve Bank in Cincinnati and contains over 90 light bulbs. The antique brass elevator was made by Otis Elevator Company for the Con Edison building in New York. The clock hanging on the outside corner near the entrance is from the M&P National Bank and was made by H.B. McClintock in Minneapolis. The grand walnut staircase was salvaged from the old St. Luke’s Hospital in Richmond. Our wooden Native American chief was carved by a craftsman in South Carolina. The hostess desk on the first floor was an old train station ticket booth purchased at an Atlanta auction, and the hostess stand on the second floor was an antique pulpit.
The Tobacco Company Restaurant is now a multifaceted entertainment and dining show place. The four story restaurant boasts two distinct dining floors, a cocktail lounge with live music, and a popular night club and dance floor. With all of these options in one place, you never even have to leave the building!