(Dylan & Jason of Waters Edge Winery Norfolk)

By Joel Rubin

If you have seen the weekly newsletter I publish (generally to promote the offshore wind industry Dominion Energy is bringing to the region), you know that many of the articles feature small businesses, many of them local restaurants, that have nothing to do with that massive project. All I ask in return for a feature story on their company is that they hold up a “Wind is Blowing Our Way” fan.  See the copy at the end of this missive for how to get on the email list.

As a former TV reporter and lifelong “short form” writer, I love telling stories, all the better if it brings the subject recognition or sales. So thanks to Veer editor Jeff Maisey, I am starting a regular column called Backstories to expand the audience, both for me and the courageous entrepreneurs who peddle their products with love and determination to the rest of us sloths. Here’s Volume 1.

Waters Edge Winery  

Dyan was a 4th grade teacher in Michigan when she decided to have her students compose letters to someone in the military. Her principal suggested her son Jayson Witt, a Navy helicopter pilot, stationed eventually in Norfolk. That connection turned into a love story. Today Mr. and Mrs. Witt live in Larchmont, are parents of two teens, and neither is teaching or flying. 

“At first I wanted him to become a commercial airline pilot,” says Dyan. But Jason “was ready for a job where I could be close to home.” He found one, within minutes of their Norfolk house. The old Taste restaurant and headquarters on Hampton Boulevard was vacant, COVID partially to blame. No longer. The couple did a complete renovation, creating the most spectacular location of Waters Edge Winery, a national operation that allows its local owners to source their own grapes and create their own blends.

Not a winemaker when he took the plunge, Jason is now, thanks to his own intense dedication to his new craft (“just like in the Navy, you follow the checklist.”) The high energy Dyan is a full partner in this venture. “This has been great for our family,” says Mrs. Witt, “considering that Jason was gone 428 days on deployments back in 2020-21.”  Waters Edge has a full restaurant with indoor and outdoor seating plus a market selling more than 45 varietals of reds and whites. Check them out at www.wewnorfolk.com

Doodle Doo Farms
The zebra and horses on the back forty of Kevin Warren’s property at 416 Princess Anne Road near Back Bay are pets. The chickens and cattle are not. 

“Having spent time growing up on my grandpa’s Georgia farm, I said someday, I wanted to raise my own livestock,” says the Pungo native, Air Force Vet (six months in Iraq), and for the past 18 years, a mortgage lender and now part time farmer. “It’s better for our bodies to consume meat from animals that can roam free. It’s better fuel for the body too.”  

His products, including locally sourced cheese, eggs, milk, ice cream, honey, bison and sauces, are what Kevin sells in the small market he built on the premises. The entire operation is called Doodle Doo after the sound his young son said a rooster makes. 

So if you’re looking for some tasty fresh (and packaged) local foods, drive 20 minutes south of the Municipal Center to Doodle Doo Farms and browse the shelves and fridge. And ask Kevin to let you meet the zebra.

Cutlass Grille

The sign on the wall says it all about Cutlass Grille and owner Shawn Dawkins.

“Eat, Drink, Be Irie’,” which means “nice, laid back” or in the case of his Town Place at Greenbrier restaurant, a “good vibe.”

The Jamaican-born Dawkins, the youngest of six and “the most likely of my mother’s sons to be in the food business” spent more than two decades in telemarketing before returning to his family’s culinary roots. “My wife and I started with a food truck,” says the father of three. “But in 2010, we went full time, making jerk chicken and other native dishes in a small joint off Battlefield Boulevard.” 

“We took a bigger space in 2014 and then in 2022, made the big leap,” coming to his current 198-capacity establishment, formerly a Surf Rider. “We are doing great here, particularly on weekends when we have live music and open our garage door to the outside. It’s fun.” He thanks God for his “love of cooking and people.”

And oh do we love Shawn, and not just because his Curry Goat, Rasta Pasta and steamed cabbage are authentic, and his Red Stripes are cold. The Grille is colorful and full of island imagery. Check them out at www.cutlassgrille.com. Irie!

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