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The difficult task of converting the former home of a pornographic bookstore into a dining establishment has fallen to restaurateur Patrick Stamper.
Stamper, who also co-owns Bellytimber Tavern in Richmond, is renovating the former Triangle bookstore — which sold adult movies, toys and was equipped with private viewing booths — on the Boulevard.
"It was gross," he said about cleaning and tearing up the building's interior.
The new restaurant, which is expected to open this spring, will be called En Su Boca, an upscale San Francisco-style taqueria. He's bringing in San Francisco chef Eric Stangarone to help develop the menu.
The process of converting the eyesore began several weeks ago.
Stamper said he decided to tackle the space because it was a good location for a restaurant — as well as a service to the community.
"Look around. You've got a baseball stadium (and a) popular movie theater right up the road" and several established restaurants, he said, referring to The Diamond, Movieland at Boulevard Square, Buz & Ned's and Stronghill Dining Co.
"I see (En Su Boca) as the kind of place people can sit outside on a summer night, have a margarita and watch the fireworks."
Transforming the building is a difficult, labor-intensive process, but Stamper said he's encouraged by what he's finding under the detritus of the bookstore: the shell of the original gas station.
The building was a gas station in the 1950s and '60s before converting to a porn shop in the 1970s. It was sold last year.
"It's a really solid place," Stamper said.
The 1,300-square-foot building is small, but he hopes to knock out a back wall and add a few hundred square feet. He also plans to incorporate the bay door to open up to outside seating.
He think most people eventually will forget what the space used to be. But that's not happening yet.
"At least once a day somebody stops by looking for the porn shop," Stamper said.
Photo and story courtesy of The Richmond Times-Dispatch