Colorful corner bar Flora closes its doors after two years

Photo by Erin Edgerton

Katie Bashista, Spectrum Editor 

After two years of DJ sets, album release parties, open mics and ABBA nights, Flora closed Nov. 17.

The Mexican restaurant located on Lombardy Street opened in March 2017 after taking over the spot from Balliceaux, an upscale restaurant and bar. Flora caught locals’ eyes with its colorful, floral design painted on the side of the building.

The space had a sitting area where patrons primarily dined, with a bar in the same vicinity. A set of stairs guided guests down into a back room, complete with a second bar, a few booths, stage and large dancing area. Vibrant, colored lights and decor lit the entire restaurant.

In a Facebook post, the owners said they were proud of their staff and their ability to adjust to Flora’s ever-changing concepts. They held their last Emo Night in mid-November and thanked patrons for their support.

Thanks to everyone who has supported us and danced their asses off in the back room,” they said in the post.

Flora held its second annual ABBA night Nov. 1, where attendees dressed in ‘70s garb and competed in a costume contest. Filled with flare pants, metallic attire and platform shoes, Richmonders danced to the infamous “Mamma Mia” tunes in the back room.  

Flora was popular for its theme nights and inclusive atmosphere. The environment made people feel comfortable to let loose and have a good time, which is sometimes hard to come by in a city like Richmond, where some patrons at other establishments have felt profiled by things like dress code regulations.

Shy Lennox is a local musician that frequented Flora and held his Sept. 7 album release party there.

I like when spaces are able to attract different types of people,” Lennox said. “[Flora] is really accepting of queer people, too, which is really really important for me and really dope that people I know that don’t feel really visible in other places are able to go there and feel OK.”

He felt the space would fit his ensemble, including three background singers, a keyboardist, bassist, drummer and saxophonist.

Overall, it was a dope space,” Lennox said. “I’d seen other shows there, gotten drinks there and I always felt comfortable, always felt like it was OK for me to be there and I wasn’t imposing on anyone. So things kind of fell into place and I went with it.”

The show’s turn out was so large that people were eventually turned away from entering the back-room because it was too crowded.

“I felt like that was a transcendent, pivotal moment in my emerging career as an artist and I’m really glad for that opportunity,” Lennox said.

Michele Jones, Jay Bayer and Jason Alley co-owned the spot and they own other restaurants in Richmond, too. On Nov. 2, they opened Bingo Beer CO. in Scott’s Addition. The spot brews beer and offers several games for customers to play including skeeball, Donkey Kong and ping pong.

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