Built in 1909, the Popkin Building once stood among the warehouses of Furniture Row as a showroom. Though its floors no longer house retail furnishings, they're now filled with new set pieces—such as barstools. Popkin Tavern reflects its building's past by displaying the original furniture company's sign against one wall and surrounding it with vintage photographs of bonnet-clad women, mustachioed men, and horses learning to drive history's first cars. Under wood-paneled ceilings, elegantly curved billiard tables form islands between heavy hardwood tables and curved banquettes. At these tables, vegetarians and carnivores alike nibble on casual gastropub fare that blends British culinary classics with Latin American, Mediterranean, and Asian flavors. To wash down bites, bartenders pour a range of local, regional, and national craft brews, featuring more than 15 on tap at any given time.
The first Funny Bone location opened in 1982 and has spread infectious laughter ever since. Established stars such as Drew Carey and Jerry Seinfeld have graced the stage, as well as up-and-coming talents with fresh faces, fresh routines, and that fresh pine scent. The venue also plays host to a full-service bar, where patrons may steep their sorrows in calming brews then ingest them triumphantly.
Located in the historic Shockoe Bottom district, longtime venue Hat Factory plays host to an extensive variety of live entertainment. For 13 days in October, the club morphs into Fear Factory, a ghoulishly gleeful haunted house spotlighting themed events every night. Scare-seekers may glimpse the spirit of clown Thurman "Laughing Man" Ray, whose undeadness adds a chilling layer to a seemingly innocent profession. The eerie extravaganza commences on Tuesday, October 19 with a special Halloween edition of the club's popular RVAlution with Dave Nada, a study in social interaction co-chaired by live performers and professional DJs. The Massacre-ade Ball on Saturday, October 30 provides the perfect excuse to wear that plainclothes police officer costume you've been storing all these years. The visually inclined can experience the spine-tingling Fear Factory teaser video here.
With candles illuminating its rustic wooden furnishings and duck confit garnishing its pizzas, The Bellytimber Tavern strikes a satisfying balance between modern refinement and classic pub comforts. To complement a selection of draft brews as well as a full slate of harder options, the food menu incorporates all the bar standards, including small plates of fried chicken wings and bowls of Richmond red chili with housemade bread. However, even the staples come with an elegant twist: The wings are made with all-natural chicken, and the pizzas, which are fired in a brick oven, feature unusual toppings such as broccolini, caramelized bacon, and vegan cheese, if desired. As patrons slurp up the foamy heads of Guinness or toss back pints filled with a rotating selection of craft beers, they can rest their eyes on flat-screen TVs or sling their contact lenses at artwork by emerging artists hanging on the walls. Beneath the bar’s vintage-style copper ceilings, special events range from live music and DJ sets to VCU Rams game-day parties.
BlackFinn entices crowds to let loose with a bevy of cold drinks, an all-day menu of chic comfort food, and popular after-hours mingling. Tame ornery stomachs at lunch or dinner with the Black Angus saloon burger ($9.99), complete with bacon and caramelized onions, or pay tribute to America’s first and only overlords with an order of beer-battered fish 'n' chips ($11.99).
As a 20-year veteran firefighter, Shawn Gregory saw his share of action and understood how draining a day on the job can be. So when Shawn and his wife decided to open Halligan Bar & Grill––named after a common tool used by firemen––they wanted to pay homage to the brave individuals in the fire service. “I built this place kinda to be a clubhouse for me and my firefighter friends to kick back after a long hard day on the job,” Shawn describes on his website.
Alongside firefighter-themed gear decorating the walls, including helmet-covered lights and uniforms pinned to the wall, the original eatery’s pride and joy is a 1973 Seagrave fire engine donated by the Mangohick Volunteer Fire Department. The engine, cut in half, sits behind the bar and portions out libations from its pump panel-turned-beer taps. Fully operational lights dance across the bar, and sirens blare every time someone says the word “refill.” At Halligan’s second location in Glen Allen, bar stools flank an entire fire truck in the massive dining room, and the roof holds tables reserved for VIP seating.