The park at the RVA entertainment venue under construction near The Diamond

Managing Partner Orcun Turkay in front of the construction entrance for The Park at RVA, an entertainment venue under construction near The Diamond. (Jonathan Spiers photos)

Richmond has a food hall. It has sports bars and outdoor cafes. It offers mini golf, bowling and an indoor golf simulator.

But it doesn’t have all of these things under one roof.

Basim Mansour

A group of investors led by Basim Mansour, chairman of HVAC company Michael & Son, is looking to change that with The Park at RVA, a multi-entertainment venue that takes up 55,000 square feet of space in the Michael & Son complex. at 1407 Cummings Drive.

Marketed as “an indoor wonderland,” the venue will feature an 18-lane bowling alley, an 18-hole mini-golf course, three bars, a food hall with six restaurant concepts, an outdoor cafe-style space with 30 self-service taprooms, three golf simulation rooms, a 200-person banquet hall, and an auditorium for live music, comedy, and corporate functions.

Construction on the venue began in December and the group aims to open it this fall. Along with the interior layout, a two-story addition that will form the entrance to the park is taking shape on the south side of the resort, which runs along the highway between Feed More and Diversity Thrift east of The Diamond.

Over a year in the making, the venue was first envisioned as a rooftop beer garden with a dog park, event space and other amenities. But when the second-floor space, previously a Cocentrix call center, went dark during the pandemic, Mansour said he saw an opportunity to fix a problem.

“I lost a 45,000 square foot office user, and obviously COVID is changing the world now with its consequences. I couldn’t imagine getting another 45,000 square foot office user for my space. So now I find myself with this situation, after a year of trying to rent it: what can I do here? said Mansour.

“I happened to be with my mate in Miami, we were on my balcony drinking and smoking a hookah, and I was thinking of doing a food hall,” he said. “Like any good idea, it all starts with drinking. This one was no exception.

While the roof was removed due to timing and cost, Mansour, 52, said the park would be unlike anything else in Richmond.

A heartbreaking 60ft long main bar with duck bowling alleys behind. (Rendered courtesy of The Park at RVA)

“It took a thousand interpretations to get here,” he said. “I love great food, but I also love customer service, and that thing is my world: it’s customer service, customer experience, great food, entertainment.”

Orcun Turkay, the group’s managing partner, whom Mansour hired as vice president of operations, is guiding the effort. Turkay has two decades of experience in the hospitality industry, having served as director of corporate catering for Shaner Hotels, a hotel group with dozens of Marriott and Hilton branded properties.

Connected a decade ago through a mutual friend who is one of the band’s other partners, Mansour brought in Turkay from Florida specifically to run The Park.

“To be successful in this business, he has to have exceptional customer service, and Orcun is the best guy for this place,” Mansour said. “We’ve assembled a fantastic team, and it’s a team effort. The company is built on the head and shoulders of Orcun and his experience.

A native of Turkey, Turkay, 38, said he and Mansour had shopped around in entertainment venues and food halls across the country and found nothing like The Park.

“There is nothing like it in the country. There’s certainly nothing like it in Richmond,” Turkay said. “It’s a very unique project, and we’re very excited to launch it and open it.”

Filling the top-floor space above CodeRVA Regional High School, the park is centered by a 60-foot-long main bar that Turkay says could be the largest in the state.

Turkay said the 60-foot-long main bar would be the largest in the state.

“I don’t know for a fact, but they say it’s the biggest bar in Virginia,” he said.

Giant flat-screen TVs will be mounted on the walls at opposite ends of the bar, and additional TVs will show a variety of sporting events – including, Turkay pointed out, this fall’s FIFA World Cup.

Next to the main bar, 18 duckpin bowling alleys line the wall opposite the entrance, where guests will be greeted by two park-style swings after taking one of two 20-person elevators from the parking lot. A stairwell is on the other side of the entrance.

Swings are central to The Park’s branding, which includes a logo and other designs created by local marketing agency Release the Hounds. The agency is also helping to name food hall restaurant concepts, including names like “Bowl Mama” and “Chick Flick.”

A rendering of some of the food stations.

The dining concepts, all managed in-house, will include a burger smash and pizza station, the aforementioned food bowls and Southern-style fried chicken stations, a taco spot and an Asian food concept serving sushi. , bao rolls and banh mi sandwiches. Rounding out the six concepts is a candy station with ice cream and coffee, desserts, alcoholic shakes and brunch items.

Leading the concepts is executive chef Robert Oatley, who Turkay says has worked for Emeril Lagassi and Wolfgang Puck and most recently was at the Greater Richmond Convention Center.

“He’s got tremendous experience,” Turkay said of Oatley. “He spent almost 20 years in Las Vegas, opened many casinos there.”

The 18 duckpin bowling alleys will fill this space next to the main bar.

The beer garden will feature 30 self-pouring taps with several local and regional craft beers. The bar areas also include a DJ booth and a karaoke room that can be rented. Turkay said the entire site will be able to accommodate more than 500 people.

At opposite ends of the floor are the 18-hole miniature golf course, which Turkay says is designed and manufactured in England, and the three simulation golf rooms, one of which can be closed off and rented out for parties. private.

Banquet space for up to 200 people is also available for rent, and an auditorium that will serve as a comedy club and small concert hall will accommodate over 200 people and can be rented for corporate and corporate meetings. other events.

The auditorium will seat over 200 people and will serve as a comedy club and concert venue.

“It’s all about the park,” Turkay said of the site’s overall theme. “Ultimately, what we’re creating here is an inner paradise. It will be a mostly adult-oriented concept, but I see us hosting a lot of families on the weekends. We plan to open earlier on weekends so that families and children can play putt-putt and bowling; dads can enjoy virtual golf.

Operating as The Park RVA LLC, the group is its own general contractor on the project, which Turkay has valued at around $7 million. He said the group is funding the project itself, with Mansour being the main funder. Mansour will also retain ownership of the space.

Los Angeles-based Ellis Adams Group designs the interiors and helps build the catering program. Turkay said he has worked with the company before, including when he was general manager of Vaso, a rooftop bar in Ohio.

Murals should be added to the exterior of the building and to the silo structure next to the entrance.

Other companies involved in The Park include Global Custom Furniture in Cleveland. Smith & Devil, based in London, designed the mini-golf course. Hamid Moumni of Falls Church-based Buildix Inc. is the project architect.

Turkay said they are talking to Richmond-based vendors for coffee and ice cream deals, and he said Release the Hounds is helping line up local artists for the interior and exterior murals that are planned. He said Richmond artist Ed Trask was enlisted for murals on the exterior of the building and a silo structure next to the entrance to the site.

Turkay said exterior lighting will be added to the building, although he said the park would not involve signage the size of Michael & Son’s panels. The band quietly tease The Park with an announcement on an adjacent electronic billboard. A website is staged and social media accounts are active.

Turkay said The Park will employ around 100 people. He said the aim was to be open seven days a week, from 4 p.m. to midnight on weekdays and extended hours on weekends. Saturdays and Sundays could have earlier openings for brunch, he said.

Several floors of The Tower dormitory have been converted into short-term rental apartments.

Complementing The Park, Mansour recently converted several floors of The Tower, the former six-story Wyeth building that is part of the Michael & Son complex, into apartments for use as short-term rentals, including three, six and stays nine months. Two floors of the building remain dormitories for students enrolled in the company’s business school.

With visibility from the freeway and a stone’s throw from the planned Diamond District redevelopment and VCU’s planned sports village, Mansour said The Park is positioned for success.

“I’m super excited for Richmond. I know Richmond has always taken a long time for things to happen, but what’s happening in Richmond is so exciting, and I’m very proud and lucky to be a part of it,” Mansour said.

Of Palestinian origin, Mansour took over and built the company launched by his late father. Based in Alexandria, Michael & Son employs approximately 1,000 people across the business and more than 100 in Richmond. The Cummings Drive location includes corporate offices, a call center and warehouse operations.

“I’m so grateful that Richmond embraced me and my business and I pray to God they embrace The Park as well,” he said. “I think it’s going to be a great product, and Orcun is a great guy and he’s going to do great service and he’s going to make people happy.”

Turkay added, “What we want to accomplish here is one of the best dining experiences the city has to offer. We want to make sure it’s done well to a point where it’s the place to be.

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