Richmond Neighborhood Guide: Downtown
Matt Rho has been a friend of Ledbury for as long as we’ve been in business. As part of the team at Shockoe Atelier, Matt spends most of his weekdays just around the corner from Ledbury HQ in Richmond’s Shockoe Bottom. We run into Matt around town pretty much everywhere — grabbing coffee at Urban Farmhouse, out for ramen at Grace Noodle, at Black Iris Tiny Bar shows, Need Supply parties, or out for beers with Anthony (Shockoe Atelier Co-Founder) and Robert (Shockoe Atelier’s resident everything-er). He’s one of those guys who knows everyone in the room, and could probably tell you their Instagram handle, where they work and maybe even list off a handful of hobbies. Matt’s influence on the Richmond community is of no small measure. It only felt right to have Matt lead the conversation about what’s going on in Downtown Richmond.
Tell us a little bit about yourself and your background.
I moved to Richmond about 5 years ago from New York, where I had been working at a private equity firm investing in tech, media and telecom businesses. I did some startup investing in Richmond for a few years, and then joined the team here at Shockoe Atelier back in early 2014.
What’s your role at Shockoe Atelier?
I run the business side of things. So operations, finance, sales & marketing.
How has Shockoe’s business helped to evolve the neighborhood?
I don't know that we've really helped to evolve the neighborhood. It's more that the neighborhood has left its mark on us. But we're really proud to be part of the revitalization that's happening here. Shockoe is Richmond's old industrial and trade center, and it's going through a renaissance right now of creative businesses making their home here, and with that, lots of people are increasingly living here, too. It's a really exciting time to be down here.
Give us a weekly rundown of your favorite lunch spots.
We rotate through a few favorites: Grace Noodle (crazy good kimchi fried rice), Perly's (heartiest matzoh ball soup you'll ever have), The Dog and Pig Show (shrimp and grits not to be missed), Union Market (great outdoor space), Tio Pablo for tacos, and River City Diner when we need a greasy spoon fix.
Where’s your go-to coffee shop?
Urban Farmhouse is always terrific. On a nice day we'll go to Shockoe Espresso and sit outside. And of course Lamplighter...a bit of a hike for us, but always worth it.
What do you like most about working in the Bottom?
I love the crazy mash-up we have here of new and old, high brow and low brow, sacred and profane. It's a neighborhood that still has tons of edge and character.
What’s the best thing going on in Richmond right now?
What excites me is that Richmond is very much leaning into the future right now, working hard to figure out what kind of city we'll be in 25 years. You've got some very ambitious projects in the works, which could really transform the city...VCU's new contemporary art museum, a new Rapid Transit system, and BridgePark (public park suspended over the James River). And at the same time, there's this grassroots, very organic movement of progressive-minded people pushing the city forward in their own ways -- like the new craft breweries, the emerging startup scene, and fashion/lifestyle brands like Need Supply, Na Nin, Drift/Riot, Square Trade Goods, Andrea Donnelly, Alton Lane, and of course Ledbury! It's a shift in orientation that lots of folks have been laying the groundwork for over the last ten years, and we're now seeing the new Richmond emerging. Like I said, it's an exciting time to be here, and we're grateful to be part of it and contribute in our own small way.
What are you most excited about for Richmond’s future?
Shoryuken Ramen starting lunch service!
While you’re downtown, don’t miss these spots:
The newly renovated Citizen (1203 E Main St) is a must - get the pulled pork torta with cabbage relish for a classic Citizen experience.
Pop by the Virginia Capitol (designed by Thomas Jefferson) and spend some time on a bench out front taking in the Monumental Classical architecture.
Put your balance to the test with a segway tour on the canal with Segway of Richmond.
Stroll down “Canal Walk” or take a canal cruise and check out some of the city’s most historic sites and contemporary murals.
For Sunday brunch, have a drink outside while you wait to experience brunch at Millie’s — a Richmond institution. It’s not quite downtown, but close enough to make the cut!
And of course, you’re just a hop, skip and a jump away from the view that named the city in Richmond’s oldest neighborhood, Church Hill. Check out our full guide to Church Hill here.