A Proper Ladies Dinner

I am a very fortunate woman. My travel takes me all over the country and has allowed me to cultivate friendships with some really great woman. Women that lead organizations. Women that care for their families. Women that are making an impact in the communities around them. Women that have challenged me to be better, stronger, and pursue my dreams. It isn’t always possible to spend a much time with them as I would like so when I get the opportunity, I take full advantage of it.

My job often takes me to Richmond , VA. A city with a rich, yet controversial past. Home to a prestigious university. And the setting for a quarterly dinner with some wonderful women. There is no topic that is off the table. Knowing your “walk on” song is a must as well as a love for all music from the 80’s. But it is just a myth that you have to be blonde to attend one of these dinners. Sometimes it is best for other people in the restaurant that we have our own separate room as it can get quite loud with laughter and music.

Richmond has experienced a renaissance over the last few years and has become a great “foodie” town. The setting for this dinner was at the historic Jefferson Hotel, built by tobacco Baron Lewis Winter back in 1892. The restaurant in the hotel is Lemaire. The chef is local to the area and has done a fantastic job incorporating local grown ingredients into fabulous seafood dishes as well as some local favorite beef, pork and chicken selections. Lemaire offers a elegant setting, perfect for the holidays or celebrating a special occasion.www.Lemairerestaurant.com

If you are a history buff, you will want to spend some time in this city. Former capital for the Confederate south, the museums and Monument Avenue tell the story of the of Richmond’s struggle to find peace in a society that was the center of the Virginia’s slave trade. I found a visit to the Virginia Museum of History & Culture very enlightening and sobering; telling a part of history not taught to this depth in most of our schools. The Museum hosts many special exhibits and collections both historical and current in theme. The museum also offers a program Unknown No Longer (virginiamemory.com) that houses a collection of resources for researching African American history in Virginia. Giving generations of families their due respect and to ensure they are not forgotten.

The Valentine First Freedom Center, located in the retail and entertainment section known as Shockoe slip (aka Shockoe Bottom), was the site to the secret meetings with Thomas Jefferson and Virginia’s General Assembly to draft and later enact the Religious Freedom Act of 1786; paving the way to the U.S. Constitution’s 1st Amendment (www.thevalentine.org). Walking down the brick paved sidewalks of this area is like a step back in time. This quaint walkable section of the city offers any options for dining. There is a great little bistro called Bistro Bobette on E. Cary St serving up traditional and French nouvelle cuisine by real French waiters. Sine’s Irish Pub is a more lively alternative that offers traditional Irish food, music, and spirit . Looking for a more traditional menu? Check out The Tobacco Company Restaurant, Morton’s Steakhouse, or The Hard Shell for some great steak or seafood. So many options makes this area worth an overnight stay. There are many options including the Courtyard and Residence Inn by Marriott, which is attached to the First Freedom Center.

As a fan of college campuses, I highly recommend a visit to VCU (Virginia Commonwealth University) while in Richmond. The urban setting of the VCU campus encompasses great art, culture, and history…as well as a great bookstore. You can spend a whole afternoon wandering the campus, popping into the gorgeous Cabell Library or stopping for a cupcake at Carytown Cupcakes. Grab a coffee or latte at Lift’s Coffee Shop and for a moment be part of the energy of this vibrate campus. Be sure not to miss the historic Byrd Theatre too. They offers classic movies – a must see for any cinema buff www.byrdtheatre.org

My trips to Richmond began as trips deemed necessary for work but have quickly become a quarterly trip that I look forward to. Each time I discover something new about this great city. And, I know that I have a great meal in store with some fabulous women whom I admire so much. I invite you to make the trip, you won’t be disappointed.

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