Richmond restaurateur Hamooda Shami once owned nearly half of the restaurants within a block of Carytown. These days, he only owns one – Don’t Look Back – and couldn’t be happier, thanks to his new business without a restaurant.
Driving the news: Shami opened Paper Tiger, a comic book, collectibles and toy store, on June 24 at 7522 Forest Hill Ave., in a building his uncle purchased in August 2020.
What happened: Blame the pandemic for the change. That’s what pushed Shami over the edge to re-evaluate his life and his passions, he told Axios.
- When the pandemic hit, Shami was down to just the two DLB locations – Triple and South – having already closed Portrait House and Eleven Months and sold his stake in New York Deli.
- “I think a lot of people have had this question, ‘What do you want to do with your life?’ during the pandemic, Shami said.
But the restaurants were one of the hardest-hit industries, and reopening during the pandemic has come with its own headaches. Plus, after 20 years in the restaurant industry – and now with two young children at home – Shami was ready for a change.
- He flirted with the idea of selling DLB, but said he feared a new owner would gut staff.
In place, Shami decided to shut down DLB’s Southside site while promoting and raising salaries for employees at the Broad site so he could transfer the daily.
- He then focused on his pandemic-related side business: buying and selling comics online.
Initially, Shami was going to kick Paper Tiger out of his house, but he had another common pandemic epiphany: working from home with a 3-year-old and a 5-year-old is pointless. Additionally, it had a retail space.
What you will find: Shami compares the store to a boutique with a curated collection of nerd stuff (his word !) of all ages and tastes, including:
- Comics, new and rare – including rated comics.
- Graphic Novels – indie, traditional and Manga, a type of Japanese comic.
- Games – traditional board games, some collectible video games, and role-playing and strategy games.
- Toys – collectibles and new, with plenty of Star Wars, Marvel and DC Comic figures that anyone would recognize.
Insider tip: Paper Tiger offers free wine and beer for shoppers, using an extended version of the same ABC license that allows salons and art galleries to offer free drinks as a customer benefit, which entered effective in January.