After a temporary detour as a food truck, a spinoff restaurant from the owners of Old Original Bookbinder’s Seafood & Steakhouse has debuted its brick-and-mortar spot near Scott’s Addition.
BigWife’s Mac n’ Cheese opened last week at 1017 N. Arthur Ashe Blvd.
The takeout-only concept is from John and Jayme Taxin, who launched BigWife’s in 2020 as a pop-up in Bookbinder’s in Shockoe Bottom. The concept is named after an affectionately-given nickname for Jayme when she was pregnant.
The couple decided to make it a stand-alone business in 2021 and leased the space formerly occupied by Growlers To Go beer shop.
John Taxin said they initially anticipated the build-out would take only a few months, but ran into an equipment supply issue.
“We found out we were going to be delayed like six months waiting for fuse boxes. There are a couple of companies that make these fuse boxes and everything’s made to order,” he said. “So I ordered these fuse boxes and they were back-ordered.”
Taxin decided not to sit idle while waiting for the shipment. He said he hired local firm KSM Manufacturing to build a BigWife’s food trailer that he could park outside the storefront.
“I know nothing about food trucks but said, ‘Hell, I’ve got this parking lot, I’m paying for spaces. What if I build a food trailer?’” Taxin said.
The trailer opened last fall and recently vacated the site ahead of BigWife’s full opening. Taxin said the food trailer experience was good for streamlining the recipes, but the slowest day at BigWife’s brick-and-mortar space was busier than the busiest day in the trailer.
“I have a great amount of respect for people who have food trucks. It was a real challenge and sales never reached what I had expected,” Taxin said.
The full BigWife’s menu is anchored by nine different one-pound macaroni and cheese dishes. Taxin said so far the most popular dishes are the Mac Lorraine, made with bacon, scallions and Gruyere cheese, and the Buffalo Mac, which has hot chicken, Texas Pete hot sauce and Gorgonzola cheese.
Mac and cheese dishes at BigWife’s sell for $9 to $12 and salads are $8. Taxin said the business eventually will look to create some specials to accompany the main dishes, salads and desserts.
Taxin said BigWife’s trailer will be used for events, but the owners’ focus will be on finding spaces for additional BigWife’s store locations in the Richmond region.
“All we need is a hoodless convection oven and a refrigerator, essentially. Those are the two important things,” Taxin said. “That being said, I’m going to look for places that do not need new fuse boxes. That’s high on my list.”