If you haven’t taken part in Richmond’s rooftop bar scene, The Hof Garden in Scott’s Addition is a great place to start. I’ll admit, I was late to the launch of the new sky-high phenomenon, but The Hof was everything I was looking for and didn’t know I was missing.
Walk in off Broad Street and The Hof has this Bavarian slash modern vibe. Flags hang high. Down low, the bar and tables rest on rustic whimsy. There’s even a foosball table for your entertainment.
Overall, the downstairs pub is comfortable and the staff is eager and friendly to serve up a European lager, ale or even a glass of prosecco along with a U Boat filled with kraut, brats and soft-pretzels. If this was all there was to The Hof, I’d be happy and content here, but so much more is just an elevator ride away.
First, a history lesson: The 14,400 square foot building was originally constructed in 1928 by Herold R. Hofheimer and home to Hofheimer Fine Rug Cleaning & Storage Company. It’s the white Mediterranean style building you see on Broad Street, near 7-11 and across from Chanello’s Pizza, with the dome on top. It’s believed that tile from The Mosque, now known as the Altria Theater, was also used on the dome at The Hof. Back in the day the area that’s now the rooftop bar was used to air-dry rugs.
When I got to the rooftop, a group of B-Boys (break-dancers) were “cutting a rug” while DJ Skillz from the Art of Noise was serving up beats. Lines grew at the bar, while a diverse, eclectic crowd sat in the beer garden filled with picnic tables and chairs – many enjoying yard games, music, warm weather and friendship.
The Hof Garden, which opened in early 2017, is the brainchild of Carter and Annie Snipes of Snipes Properties. They named the space after a biergarten in Munich. I asked them how this all came to be. Carter says it was all luck.
“I helped lease and manage the building for a couple of years. Annie and I always thought it was a cool building. So, when the owner decided to sell, I immediately made him an offer.”
The couple bought this iconic building, but like every small business owner, they worried the crowds wouldn’t come.
“At the time, it was a big risk, that block (of Broad Street) was pretty rough,” said Snipes, “We have been very humbled by the success of the building and by how much the area around us has really taken off.”
The building is more than just a couple of bars on the first floor and the roof. Annie and Carter restored the entire building with the help of historic tax credits and it opened in 2016 as an event space called The Loft, along with an office space on the second floor and the section that occupies Peter Chang’s restaurant.
Before starting Snipes Properties in 2005, the VCU grads both worked in New York: Carter for the online marketing department at the History Channel and Annie at Showtime Networks in their internal advertising agency. They moved back to Richmond to start their family and transitioned into real estate.
I asked them what’s been the best part of opening The Hofheimer building.
“Great support and patronage from area residents,” said Snipes. “We have gotten such flattering reviews and positive feedback from the neighborhood.”
The Hof Garden is open every Wednesday to Sunday from 4:00pm-11:00pm, with live music every Thursday, Friday and Saturday. But mark your calendars now!
In October, The Hof Garden will launch a month long Oktoberfest celebration that you won’t want to want to miss. Then, in December, a Richmond favorite returns. Plan to ring in the New Year at The Hof. The Snipes tell me their New Year’s celebration will include the ball from the Byrd Theater and it will rise at midnight just like it did in Carytown.
In the meantime, follow The Hof Garden on Instagram and Facebook to keep up with weekly events and specials and if you’re looking for a spot for your party or reception, give them a call because The Hof and The Loft are available rentals for anything from receptions to bridal showers with catering available as well.