There is a little-discussed part of Richmond’s Upper Fan/Museum District that was once a pretty rough area — “The Devil’s Triangle”, or as it is sometimes called, “The Bermuda Triangle”. Now it is an economic corridor with independent shops and restaurants that serve the residents of the Museum District, the Fan District, and anyone else that wants to wander through.
I lived in the area for several years back in the mid to late nineties, and I missed most of the rougher times but heard plenty about Felix’s, Cafe 21, and the Ritz — now Caliente, Cafe Diem, and Arianna’s.
We moved our offices over to 604 North Sheppard Street several years ago to be in the heart of the revitalization going on, and to show our commitment to the area. Our founder and CEO, Bedros Bandazian owns all of the commercial along this part of Sheppard Street except for the 7-Eleven, as well as some nearby commercial buildings — so there was already a strong commitment within the company to revitalizing the area. Our move made a further commitment, and of course we all patronize the surrounding businesses faithfully.
The transformation has taken another step with the most recent additions of:
- Sylvia’s Stitch & Suds (renovated coin laundrymat, now a seamstress and laundry),
- Arianna’s Grill (Italian restaurant from the extended family who also own Mary Angela’s and several others around town — built out from almost from scratch shell)
- The parking lot in the rear of the buildings at Park & Sheppard (repaved, landscaped, lighted, and available for any customers of the shops along Sheppard)
The Devil’s Triangle is located in the Museum District, which is nestled within the Upper Fan, of Richmond, VA.
This area received its name from three rough local bars, which formed a triangle. The bars have changed ownership, and the area has undergone a major transformation.
However, the nickname has stuck, and has a quirky appeal to locals–locals who never went when it was actually the Devil’s Triangle.
It wasn’t unlikely for police to find wanted suspects in the bars, or for gun and fistfights to happen almost nightly.
Rich Holden, former owner of Felix, talks about how a two block area came to be known as The Devil’s Triangle. Located in Richmond, VA, this area was home to drug trafficking, prostitution, bar brawls and gunfights. The triangle consisted of three bars, The Felix, The Ritz, and Cafe 21.
Although Holden called it “The Bermuda Triangle,” that moniker is also commonly synonymous with “The Devil’s Triangle.”
[editor’s note: Richard Holden is now the Principal Broker and President here at Bandazian & Holden, Inc.]
I’m eagerly awaiting Alix’s article to go along with the videos, and if she’ll allow me I’ll share it with you in a later post — or at least I’ll link over to it! I greatly appreciate her allowing me to use the videos here, and encourage you to go to her Vimeo site to take a look at her other work!
If you haven’t visited the Devil’s Triangle in a while, you should! Visit the Black Hand for some coffee that was roasted right there on site. Come sit on Caliente’s patio and enjoy the spring breeze while you have dinner. Come listen to some amazing music down at Cafe Diem. Or explore one of the other shops or restaurants.
[edit (4/13/10, 2:27pm): After a couple of off-blog responses, I’m curious to ask — If you are familiar with the Devil’s Triangle, please share some memories of your time there with us in the comment section below!]