Blacksburg is anticipating the arrival of two new restaurants to the Downtown area in the coming school year: the Social House, an original concept that integrates a variety of international tastes, and a new branch of the growing pizza-and-beer chain Mellow Mushroom.
Both eateries will be occupying preexisting buildings downtown, and have undergone significant renovations to come closer to completion.
Mellow Mushroom is located in the building used to house the Blacksburg mainstay Backstreets Pizza and Grill. Mellow Mushroom is well known for its variety of pizzas and craft beers, and already has Virginia locations in Charlottesville, Bristol and Richmond.
The expansive menu of a typical Mellow Mushroom includes gluten-free and vegan options, while also maintaining an eclectic range of local, regional and international craft beers, as well as wine and mixed drinks.
Leslie Knapp, a Virginia Tech alumna of 1983, owns the Blacksburg franchise of Mellow Mushroom. While she already owns another Mushroom franchise in Hickory, N.C., Knapp has hired Tech graduates to help shape the look and design of this new location, and intends for it to reflect aspects of Southwest Virginia.
Blacksburg has had a longstanding appeal for Knapp and her family as her husband and son both graduated from Tech, and two of her daughters are currently enrolled.
Knapp intends Mellow Mushroom to be open by early spring of next year.
The Social House Eat and Drink, as it is formally called, is an entirely new concept developed by former Blacksburg resident Daniel Riley. The house, known historically as the Bennett-Pugh house but colloquially as the Taylor Frame house, is a historical location in Downtown, circa 1890.
It had been sitting vacant for five years from when Riley purchased it in 2010 for $375,000. Renovations included a foundation being built under the house, and work on the electrical and plumbing systems, all of which is priced around $350,000.
Aivey Charoensombut-amorn, owner of local venues Next Door Bake Shop and Café de Bangkok, is helping to manage and operate the restaurant when it opens. The restaurant will feature cuisine that embodies comfort food from eight different countries. Charoensombut-amorn stated that she does not intend to change the layout of the house in designing the interior.
Riley and Charoensombut-amorn hope to have the restaurant open and operating before the end of the year.