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Mellow Mushroom to open in Merchants Square Oct. 8

rarriaza@vagazette.com

Mellow Mushroom will bring its specialty pizza to Merchants Square when it opens in the Henry Street Shops on Monday, Oct. 8.

Plans for the restaurant were announced by Colonial Williamsburg last October, according to a past Virginia Gazette report. Store owner Gray Nelson, who also owns a Mellow Mushroom franchise in Newport News, said he first fell in love with the restaurant chain while he was in the Navy and never looked back.

“My wife and I were in Destin, Fla. in 2002 and we came across a Mellow Mushroom by happenstance, it was at an intersection and we were sitting there asking what we wanted for dinner,” he said. “We went in there and it was so good that the first time we had it, I already started wondering if I could open up my own after getting out of the Navy.”

The new restaurant will have a 115-person staff when it opens, and will be around 3,750 square feet, Nelson said. The new Mellow Mushroom features an indoor dining room and an outdoor dining patio, and will offer a total of 229 seats across both areas.

Nelson’s first pizza franchise opened to the public in Newport News three years ago, but he said he always had his sights set on opening another location in Williamsburg. Nelson said he chose to bring his restaurant to Merchants Square because of its proximity to other hotspots for tourists and locals.

“The opportunity to open in Colonial Williamsburg is a great one, because you have the old and the new,” he said. “You have William and Mary right next door, Colonial Williamsburg right next door, It’s just an amazing experience to open a store and to be part of a great new chapter for Merchants Square.”

The Atlanta, Ga.-based pizza chain is known for featuring unusual design elements at each location, and Nelson said the Williamsburg restaurant will be no exception. The restaurant features early to mid-1900s British design elements, he said, and its decor will be primarily inspired by 1980s-era British rock, featuring artwork of bands including The Cure, Modern English, Duran Duran and Def Leppard.

“It’s a play on British rock and our special relationship with England,” Nelson said.

The Mellow Mushroom is located in the same shopping center as the upcoming Precarious Beer Project microbrewery, which is expected to open in the Henry Street Shops next summer.

A ribbon-cutting ceremony with local officials is scheduled for 10:45 a.m. Monday, and the restaurant will open its doors to the public at 11 a.m. For more information, visit mellowmushroom.com.

The latest home sales report from the Williamsburg Area Association of Realtors shows an overall increase in new home listings and closed home sales in August when compared to year-to-date figures from 2017.

The group, which is comprised of more than 400 realtors from the Greater Williamsburg area, covers and reports on home market trends in Williamsburg, James City County, York County, New Kent County, Charles City County, Newport News, Hampton, Surry and Gloucester.

Across the agency’s coverage area, closed sales increased by 14 percent in August when compared to the same month last year, and pending sales were also up by 8 percent when compared to August 2017. Homes sat on the market for a median of 32 days, nearly a week less than averages from last August.

In Williamsburg, James City County and York County, new listings and closed sales were also up from August 2017.

New listings increased by the widest margin in James City, where 167 homes were put on the market in August as compared to 140 during the same month last year. York County led the pack in closed sales, with eight more closed sales in August 2018 than in 2017, according to the report.

Median sales prices remained largely level in York and Williamsburg, but reached $327,500 in James City, a $12,000 drop when compared to last August.

“Our national (Realtors) association reported that existing home sales slowed in July, and that just hasn’t been the case for our area,” said Kimber Smith, president of the local group in a news release. “So far this year, to date, we’ve seen a 7 percent increase in closed sales and a 28 percent reduction in median days on market, meaning our properties are selling, and not staying on the market long.”

For more information, visit waarealtor.com.

Arriaza can be reached at 757-790-9313 or on Twitter @rodrigoarriaza0.

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