The typical Fredericksburg bank vault contains $100 bills stacked 75-feet high (or so I envision it, thanks to heist films). But a vintage bank vault on Princess Anne Street contains local patrons savoring the Shrimp and Grits or Steak Frites of Foode. That’s right. Foode, the delectable local restaurant that your Fredericksburg friends constantly rave to you about, was not only once a bank, but the longest-serving bank building in the history of the United States.
The building’s history dates back to the Civil War. From the front steps of the building, Jefferson Davis, President of the Confederacy, addressed his troops. From the side steps on George Street, Abraham Lincoln addressed the Union troops (these steps, which were crumbling upon renovation, are now on display outside the Fredericksburg Area Museum at the corner of Princess Anne and William streets). PNC Bank shuttered this bank building in 2014, only for Mike Adams, owner of JON Properties, to implement the project of bringing it back to life. And in 2016, he worked to renovate the building with Beth Black and Joy Crump, co-owners of Foode.
Black and Crump met in an Atlanta newsroom, where they quickly became best friends. “She’s my sister,” Black said, describing how the two of them have supported each other through not only tough times, but in the dream of running their own restaurant. And when Adams approached the two of them about moving Foode to the bank building, they joined in on the endeavor.
“Taking on this building was daunting and exciting,” Black said, “Because we had to protect such a really important part of Fredericksburg.”
According to Adams, there were a number of obstacles getting in the way of bringing new life into the building. A new slate roof was required, the floors had to be removed, and the windows had to be restored. Most important, however, was getting approval to use historic tax credits. Adams highly encourages those looking to renovate historic buildings to research the tax credit program, as it will assist them in the cost of new renovation. And with the tax credit assistance, Adams believes the renovation was well worth it.
But a rigorous renovation is not the only hurdle Foode has faced in the recent past. During the COVID-19 pandemic, Black and Crump took the necessary steps required to maintain safety and health for their staff and guests. And in the spirit of aiding the community that Black believes has generously supported Foode, they began selling groceries to those who needed them during quarantine. Foode was recognized and awarded for its exceptional response to the pandemic, receiving a commendation from the Virginia State House.
Supporting the local community, according to Black, is not only essential, but personal. “If it wasn’t for this community that dictated how we grow, if they didn’t support our local business, we wouldn’t be here.” As Black sees it, if the local community has supported Foode, the least she and Crump can do is support local businesses. That is one of the reasons why Foode’s ingredients are primarily sourced from local businesses, such as Sylvanaqua Farms in Montross.
“I think things taste better when they’re plucked out of the land during the season they were supposed to be plucked,” Black said, noting that the quicker the food can be eaten by the guests, the fresher and tastier it will be. Black believes that with the items provided by these local farms and businesses, extra ingredients are rarely needed. At Foode, the food itself does the hard work.
Black wants guests to feel the history of the building, while also enjoying the modern twist that Foode has to offer. Whether it be local guests or out-of-towners, she believes that Foode gives Fredericksburg a local, safe and fresh experience. And while tasting their Braised Roasted Chicken with a local IPA, while relaxing in a refurbished bank vault, how could you not agree?
Keep reading this blog for more behind-the-scenes stories about the businesses, buildings and organizations that make our City so special.