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 Doesn’t Live Here Anymore from Alix Bryan on Vimeo.

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.

Origin of a nickname from Alix Bryan on Vimeo.[vimeo]

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!]

5 Thoughts on “Insight into The Devil’s Triangle”

  • I lived right off Belmont for about four years. It was during the rough times. I think in the later years it started it turn around. I do miss the original MoMo’s. Do not miss the Triangle and the other bar that was a sore spot in the area.

  • I lived on the corner of Monument Avenue and Boulevard in 1995 just a few blocks the Bermuda, or Devil’s, Triangle. I remember the area being a little rough, but it didn’t prevent my roommates and me from stopping by the 7-11 almost daily. We were too young to visit the bars in the area, so perhaps I missed out on what the neighborhood was truly like at that time. I have fond memories of an older lady who worked at 7-11, though. I don’t remember her name, but she was always kind to us poor kids on bikes who were often in need of a shower. She was a regular employee of the 7-11 on Belmont and I also saw her at the Carytown 7-11 from time to time. She later inspired one my husband’s paintings, titled Pauline.

  • My dad used to play pool up there when it was still the Bermuda Triangle, in the 1970s. A lot of guys who grew up in the Byrd Park area used to hang out there and drink beer and play pool. The two places I remember the most are the Pizza Oven and the Rainbow Inn, though I think the Ritz was there too back then. In my fourth grade class picture (John B. Cary — another generation of Byrd Park kids) I am wearing a Rainbow Inn T-shirt! Proud to represent the Bermuda Triangle.

  • I remember the Rainbow Inn and the only fight I can recall, I was in. I decked Stoker Bevel after he pulled up my shirt. My recall was that of various colorful and assorted folks that lived in the fan district – none of them seemed to criminal to me. Looking back from Texas a conservative democrat. The times were interesting – complicated and fun!

  • In ’76, after college I moved back into the area. Lived on the Boulevard in an apartment without class. Would occasionally frequent the Rainbow. Took my girlfriend at the time, (later my 1st wife)….she didn’t like it. However I kinda dug it’s rough & tumble vibe. Had a great juke box with some Dylan songs I was into at the time. Believe the proprietor used to have an open house on Thanksgiving Day & serve free turkey dinners. [Hey what a guy] ! The other bars?? Gotta admit I was a wuss… too chicken to go into those places… A few too many bikes on the street for me. My stepsister Kay.. she was a tough cookie. She’d go anywhere. It’s changed now. Still the area has a certain funk that’s irreplaceable. I like it.

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