Inside the Ironclad Café:
An Origin Story

Posted by Ryan O'Rourke on January 2, 2019 in Uncategorized

It’s nearly been six months since we cut the ribbon at our flagship café, and the response we’ve received from our customers has been outstanding. We are humbled and grateful that Richmond coffee lovers, by and large, have so quickly made our café a destination in their search for the perfect cup.

Our goal is to provide everyone who walks through these doors with a rewarding and memorable customer service experience. Friendly, professionally-attired baristas; relaxing, calm ambience and evocative tunes from the classic eras of swing, jazz and blues; flourishes of Richmond’s storied history, with turn-of-the-century scenes of the once-fledgling metropolis proudly displayed on the original brick walls, alongside relics of the building’s provenance as a fire station, the old No. 2 Hook and Ladder Company.

The No. 2 Hook and Ladder station fire crew, circa 1894. The station (pictured right)
was constructed in 1884 and operated until its de-commissioning in 1952.

We signed the lease on this historic space in December 2017, and quickly got to work converting the interior to serve the needs of a top-of-the-line specialty coffee parlor. We put up interior walls, installing a second ADA-rated bathroom, a storage room and a dish area; we dug up the concrete floors, rerouting the electrical and plumbing systems to service our island bar. We overhauled the building’s power supply, doubling the electrical capacity of its infrastructure, and built out its lighting systems to support the abundant natural lighting coming through our windows.

Finally, we meticulously decorated the interior, putting up artwork, archival photographs and other furnishings that we decided enhanced the character of the space. Take, for instance, one of our finest set pieces: the original shoeshine bench from the Jefferson Hotel, where Presidents Roosevelt and Truman and such celebrated artists as Frank Sinatra, Charlie Chaplin and Elvis Presley are reported to have sat.

The original shoeshine bench from the Jefferson Hotel. We offer shines
on Friday, Saturday and Sunday mornings for $8 – a cup of coffee included!

The rest, as they say, is history. Our finished café boasts state-of-the-art brewing and espresso equipment: a three-group Victoria Arduino Black Eagle Gravitech espresso machine, Nuova Simonelli Mythos One Clima Pro and Mahlkönig EK-43 grinders, a Ground Control multi-cycle batch brewer by Voga, and more.

The Voga Ground Control batch brewer utilizes multiple brewing cycles and
adjustable parameters to produce a layered, complex, bright and exquisitely flavorful cup.

Hollywood came calling in September in the form of HGTV’s popular “Lottery Dream House” program. We received an email asking if we would be up for allowing the film crew part of a morning to shoot in our café for an upcoming episode, and we gladly obliged. To be quite honest, it was quite a nice little pat on the back to have folks who make style their business select our place as one of the spots in Richmond that makes the city a fashionable destination.

It’s been a thrilling ride, and we look forward to continuing to serve you with a smile, seven days a week, in the years ahead!

For the Ironclad crew,
Ryan

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