(Brick Anchor Brew-House offers a variety of pub fare and healthy options)

By Jeff Maisey

From January 17-24, Downtown Norfolk will be presenting its winter Restaurant Week. This year, in the midst of the ongoing pandemic, it is a welcomed promotion for restauranteurs and diners alike.

“It may be even more important during a pandemic,” said Phil Smith, owner, Brick Anchor Brew House. Not only will it bring in guests (and sales) through the Restaurant Week specials, it also importantly gives our kitchen staff a big lift by being able to innovate and create new dishes we otherwise wouldn’t have because of the downward trend in sales. It’s important to us and others in the restaurant community to not only be there for our guests, but to afford our team members with opportunities to express themselves. This week helps greatly.”

Brick Anchor will offer a two-course $12 lunch special and a three-course $25 and $35 dinner options.

“We think we have something for everybody, from American comfort food options to the bit more sophisticated,” Smith said. “All options are new, including entrees such as Lamb Shank, Seafood Diablo, and Cauliflower Steak. And other options will include new twists on popular steak and salmon dishes.”

And with 60 beer taps highlighting local breweries, a nice wine list, and cocktails galore, there will be plenty of food pairing opportunities.

When many downtown restaurants reopened after the initial shutdown and made use of outdoor seating options, Brick Anchor remained shuttered. When the Steam Punk themed restaurant reopened in summer it took some time to find its legs again. 

“Frankly, it has been very tough,” Smith said. “Historically, about 50% of our sales come from events. With the limitations on indoor gatherings (currently 10), capacity restrictions (50%), pandemic fear, and sales hours reduced by the restriction on adult beverage sales after 10:00 p.m., the impact has been crippling.

“Overall, our sales from 2019 to 2020 were down 58%, including the critical hospitality/event month of December, where we experienced a 78% reduction.

“These statistics make it extremely tough to survive, not only for businesses, but importantly for service staff who count on tips to make ends meet.”

Among the other restaurants participating in Norfolk’s Downtown Restaurant Week are Voila, Omar’s Carriage House, Grace O’Malley’s Irish Pub, Monastery, Tap It Local, Leone’s, Gershwin’s, 456 Fish, Todd Jurich’s Bistro, The Stockpot, Freemason Abbey, Big Easy, and Stripers Waterside.

In Virginia Beach, Restaurant Week is scheduled February 3-9. 

Ghent Farm Market

After many years of discussion, the Ghent Business Association is moving forward with what will be known as Ghent Farmers’ Market on the first and third Friday of each month beginning in April. Unlike other local farm markets, which offer fresh veggies, meats and more on Saturday morning, the Ghent market will operate 4-7 PM on the front lawn of Blair Middle School on Colley Avenue. Talk about a fresh dinner — from farmer’s truck to the home kitchen in minutes. 

Vendors may reach out to Lori Golding Zontini at ghentfarmersmarketnfk@gmail.com to participate.