Walking the sidewalks or cruising the streets of Henrico’s Lakeside neighborhood evokes nostalgia – for some, it’s for bygone days they’ve lived through and now remember fondly. For the twenty- and thirty-somethings now flocking there, Lakeside exudes the charm of idyllic mid-century suburbs, even as new businesses arrive and bring something fresh to the mix.
From Recreational Destination to Neighborhood
In the early spring of 1896, Richmond business magnate and philanthropist Lewis Ginter opened Lakeside Park to the public. The park – which originally included a zoo, bicycle club, and walking trails – was built five miles north of downtown to draw visitors to the area’s sparsely developed northern suburbs. Lakeside Park later added Richmond’s first nine-hole golf course in a merger with the Jefferson Club to form the Jefferson Lakeside Country Club in 1934. Today, Jefferson Lakeside County Club is one of Henrico’s longest-operating Legacy companies, and its membership is regarded as the most diverse among the Richmond area’s country clubs.
The Lakeside neighborhood grew up along the bicycle and streetcar paths along Lakeside Avenue, which stretched from the densely populated City of Richmond to the park. The neighborhood, largely consisting of affordable suburban ranch, craftsman, and colonial-style architecture, expanded outward from Lakeside Avenue during the early to mid 20th-century wave of suburban development. Later additions of sidewalks and curbs helped create opportunities for a number of storefronts in the neighborhood, several of which are still operating today.
Fin & Feather Pet Center, Richmond’s oldest locally owned pet store, is a great example. The store first opened in 1959, and its current owner, Melvin Major, bought the business a decade later. He began working there when he was in high school. Since then, Major has tripled the shop’s size and opened a pond center adjoining the flagship store.
Mr. Major attributes the shop’s enduring success to the charm of Lakeside and its central location – adjoining the City of Richmond, with quick access to I-95, I-64, and I-295 – as well as his ownership of the building and the universal nature of the store’s products. “We’re now getting to our second and third generations of customers,” Major explained. He also emphasizes the importance of the personal nature of Fin & Feather’s customer service. “When you go to bigger box stores, there are lots of new things to buy, but you don’t know the people.”
Lakeside’s Legacy Businesses
|Business Name||Industry||Years in Operation|
|Jefferson Lakeside Country Club||Country Club||84|
|Fin & Feather||Pet Supply||59|
|Roy's Big Burgers||Restaurant||57|
|Axselle Auto Service||Automotive||50|
One-of-a-kind shops and nods to the past are just about everywhere you look around Lakeside. “The Hub,” a small shopping center on Lakeside Avenue, features a sign designating it as “Henrico’s first shopping center, since 1948.”
New Businesses and Young Professionals Flocking to Lakeside
Today, the Lakeside neighborhood is in the midst of a new wave of unique, throw-back flavored business. A new B-52’s-themed restaurant called SB’s Lakeside Love Shack opened in The Hub in November 2017, offering dishes like “Knock a Li’l Louder” sugar buns and the “I Got Me a Chrysler” melt. Final Gravity, the neighborhood nanobrewery that opened in 2015, offers craft beer enthusiasts vintage pinball and some of Richmond’s tastiest brews.
With its year-round farmer’s market and unique restaurants, Lakeside has also become increasingly attractive to foodies. Where else in the area do you have a choice between a mainstay walk-up burger joint that’s been open since 1961 (Roy’s Big Burger) and Carytown Burger and Fries, which decided to spread the burger bounty to Lakeside with its new location in 2015? And, if you’re a chocolate lover, there’s craft chocolatier Chocolate Cravings, offering barks, bars, brownies, truffles, and other chocolate delights.
There are also plenty of opportunities to balance out your indulgences. With world-class Lewis Ginter Botanical Garden at one end of the community and Bryan Park at the other, residents and visitors enjoy plenty of scenic green space and outdoor recreation. There’s also Glatter Fitness, a boutique fitness center offering bootcamps and small-group personal training.
Much of Lakeside’s recent commercial success stems from its affordability and prime location. With an average home value of $191,000, Henrico’s excellent school system, and proximity to downtown Richmond, Lakeside has become a hotbed for young professionals. Trung Le and his wife, Andrea Lancaster, say Lakeside was attractive to them because of its location, affordability, and diverse demographics. “The neighborhood is easily accessible to I-64 and I-95, as well as a short drive from downtown Richmond,” explains Le. “Houses were more affordable than other areas, and taxes are lower in Henrico, which makes it an even more attractive option. We also like that we have several restaurants and bars that are within walking distance, and our neighbors are all incredibly friendly.”
True to its roots, Lakeside still offers a unique blend of recreation opportunities, restaurants, and value for its residents to live, work, and play. Whether you’re passing through Henrico or looking to settle into the area long term, Lakeside is definitely worth exploring for its livability, unique personality, and mid-century modern charm.