2527 W Main St, Richmond, VA 23220 (804) 358-4370
Helen's Restaurant is located in the heart of Richmond, serving brunch and dinner.
Originally opened in 1912 this building was a pharmacy called Fletchers. Like many pharmacies at this time Fletchers was a social center as well as a place to fill an Rx complete with soda fountain and juke box. In 1927 Humbert and Marie Donati took over the space and opened the first-class restaurant Dʼs. Marie would cook and Humbert loved to tinker with the juke box. They raised their family in the apartment upstairs. Helen was deemed the most business savvy of the Donati children and Humbert and Marie passed the restaurant on to her on her 21st birthday in 1935. Under Helenʼs management the restaurant went through a very prosperous time as a well known beer bar and juke joint popular with the swing dancing set.
When Helen died in 1967 her brother John Donati took over the business and lived upstairs with his wife and six children. John Dubbed the place Helenʼs Inn and served food during the day and rented the place out for private parties at night. Many people remember this era for the dark velvet curtains and ceramic celebrities adorning the windows. Helenʼs Inn was a Richmond Landmark and was even featured on the silver screen.
In 1994 John decided to sell the business and Leslie and John Tuite took over. They have kept the spirit of all the incarnations of Helenʼs alive by restoring the decor to the swing era style and keeping the original fixtures of the former pharmacy including what was formerly a phone booth. Each year Helenʼs is covered in christmas decorations in homage to John Donatiʼs tradition of decking the place out for the holidays. Helenʼs is said to be haunted and everyone from the Donati family to the current owner and employees have had some kind of paranormal experience in the building. Many report hearing Swing music. We like to think itʼs Helenʼs spirit protecting her namesake restaurant and watching over the place.
We hope you enjoy Helenʼs Southern gothic history and contemporary spin on traditional Southern cuisine.