The Ridley, a new restaurant concept in development from Thompson Hospitality, is slated to open on January 1, 2021, in The Draftsmen, an Autograph Collection hotel by Marriott in Charlottesville, Virginia. The concept is being developed to pay homage to Dr. Walter N. Ridley and the impact of his lifework.

The Ridley will add another dining option to Charlottesville’s Black-owned restaurant scene and the team looks forward to bringing this upscale-casual restaurant specializing in fresh seafood and a sophisticated take on southern-style food to the community. Notably, The Ridley is committing to giving back to students with an interest in diversity and inclusion through The Walter N. Ridley Scholarship Fund at The University of Virginia (UVA) in an effort to support academic journeys and career development.

The team responsible for Charlottsville’s new restaurant concept is headed up by Warren Thompson, UVA alumnus and CEO and founder of Thompson Hospitality, and his long time friend and business partner, Ron Jordan, CEO of Jordan Hospitality Group. The pair brings a unique combination of experience, creativity, and varied regional influences from the Mid-Atlantic and Midwest markets to the table to bring this fresh concept to life. The menu will include offerings like soft shell crab, fried lobster tails, branzino, red snapper, and cajun oysters, to name a few.

Thompson who holds a Master of Business Administration from The Darden School of Business credits much of his success to his father, forebearers, and Dr. Ridley.  “As the first Black student to ever graduate from UVA, Dr. Ridley was a leader, educator, and an extraordinary influence for the generations that came after him,” shares Thompson. “Both my mother and father were educators who had the opportunity to study under Dr. Ridley at UVA so his influence is deeply personal to me. The Ridley is a way for me to publicly recognize his contributions and his commitment to action and equality in a town critically important to both his story and my own.”

Thompson is a Virginia native and a principal donor at The University of Virginia. In his lifetime, he has donated over $1 million dollars to support The Darden School of Business and power the generations that follow him. He has served for eight years on both the Board of Trustees of The Darden Foundation and the Board of Visitors for UVA. Additionally, Thompson supported the construction of the Memorial to Enslaved Laborers on UVA’s campus. “My vision is that people will be able to visit the memorial and then come to dine at The Ridley in the same way that they visit the National Museum of African American History and Culture in Washington, D.C., and then commune at Sweet Home Cafe.”

The Ridley will open on January 1, 2021, at 1106 West Main Street, Charlottesville, Virginia, serving lunch, dinner, and weekend brunch. To help keep both The Ridley’s guests and their staff healthy, reservations are highly encouraged. Masks will be required in any common space of the restaurant and the restaurant will abide by all cleaning, social distancing, and capacity regulations as outlined by both state and federal agencies.

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