ICA at VCU announces café partnership with Soul N’ Vinegar

A person behind the counter of a restaurant.
Michelle Parrish from Soul N' Vinegar, Church Hill location. (Photo by Eileen Mellon)

The Institute for Contemporary Art at Virginia Commonwealth University is partnering with Soul N’ Vinegar, run by chef Michelle Parrish, to operate its cafe. The cafe began service with a soft launch on Nov. 5 and will be fully operational on Friday, Dec. 6, in time for the ICA’s First Friday programming.

“Michelle has an incredible story and a vision for how food is part of the culture and a way to build community,” said Michael Lease, director of facilities and experience design at the ICA. “Her visionary approach to food, from the locally sourced ingredients to the way it is presented, is a natural fit to accompany the exhibitions and programs that the ICA offers. We hope that our visitors and the greater VCU and Richmond communities will share our excitement for this new partnership and we look forward to welcoming them to the cafe soon.”

Soul N’ Vinegar at the ICA’s Abby Moore Cafe is open from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Tuesdays through Sundays, with extended evening hours on Wednesdays and First Fridays, beginning Dec. 6.

Parrish opened Soul N’ Vinegar in June 2018 at R and 29th streets. The restaurant specializes in “healthy, affordable, diverse foods for diverse peoples.” Designed to make every guest feel welcome, with décor sourced from the Church Hill neighborhood and greater Richmond, the original Soul N’ Vinegar specializes in grab-and-go food. As with the Church Hill location, the ICA cafe will serve a weekly rotating menu. 

“Although the ICA is located in a different neighborhood and the cafe will welcome different customers, the goal is the same,” Parrish said. “I hope to offer the very best I can to collaboratively create an inviting space filled with thoughtful design and goods produced by good humans.”

As part of the partnership, ICA graduate assistant Houria Boumzairig, a Fulbright scholar from Morocco and student in VCU’s Interior Design Department, collaborated with Parrish to ensure the new Soul N’ Vinegar space is as welcoming and familiar as the original.

About the Institute for Contemporary Art

The Institute for Contemporary Art at Virginia Commonwealth University is a noncollecting institution that showcases a fresh slate of changing exhibitions and programs. The ICA is a place to explore new ideas, providing an open forum for dialogue and collaboration across the region and the world. Mirroring the increasing emphasis on cross-disciplinary studies across VCU, the ICA has created a new environment for artists and scholars from around the world to test ideas. As a university-wide resource, the ICA links campus, community, and contemporary artists by supporting local creative communities, engaging an international network of contemporary artists and organizations, and encouraging collaborations with VCU departments, faculty, students and the Richmond community. The ICA is a responsive institution that offers a broad range of artistic perspectives with the goal of questioning assumptions and encouraging critical discourse. For more information on the ICA, please visit icavcu.org.

About VCU and the VCU School of the Arts

VCU is a major, urban public research university with national and international rankings in sponsored research. Located in downtown Richmond, VCU enrolls more than 31,000 students in 217 degree and certificate programs in the arts, sciences and humanities. One of the nation's leading schools of arts and design, VCU School of the Arts offers 15 undergraduate and 10 graduate degree programs in fine arts, design, performing arts, historical research and pedagogical practice. Distinguished faculty members are internationally recognized in their respective fields, contribute significantly to the stature of VCU, and are committed to mentoring the next generation of artists, entrepreneurs, scientists, scholars and engaged citizens of diverse communities around the world. Its campus in Qatar provides students and faculty with a direct tie to the Middle East and underscores the school and university's commitment to global education and experience.