Tuesday, May 30, 2023

After three generations of employees and families, Sandbridge’s Baja Restaurant gets a new look

Newly remodeled dining area in the Baja Restaurant (Southside Daily)

VIRGINIA BEACH  — The Baja Restaurant in the South Sandbridge has undergone quite a few changes since it was created from the bones of Tastee Freez ice cream shop in the 1970’s.

Jimmy Reeve has been an integral part of the Baja since getting the hospitality bug after starting his outdoor adventure company, Back Bay Getaways which led to ownership of a lodge in Costa Rica.

When Reeve took over management of the restaurant from Doug Wilkins in 2005 and then bought out ownership in 2009, he and his business partner, Joe Shetler, have created a unique experience for both locals and visitors of Sandbridge Beach.

Reeve has been a part of three generations throughout his history with Baja Restaurant. Couples that met working at the Baja alongside him had children of their own that now work at the restaurant.

“I am a part of this community,” Reeve said. “I’ve tried to keep the family feel to it.”

From the new bright white walls covered in local artwork and pictures of wild horses that once graced the Sandbridge Beaches to the covered back patio and Bay View building, Reeve and his wife, interior designer Sally Reeve, have created airy spaces that offer a variety of atmospheres for every customer.

“We wanted to create something that offers both fine-dining and casual dining areas for our customers,” Reeve said. “We can cater to quiet dinner goers and large families.”

After moving the hostess area to what was once an open patio, the Reeves have transformed the inside portion of the restaurant to include new seating areas and a fresh look for patrons to enjoy their meal. The Baja menu includes seafood, steak, salads, flat bread pizzas, and pasta dishes and multiple drink options.

The bar area was also given a new look with replaced seating areas to complement that bar created from 200-year-old pine from a south Norfolk pickle factory that was turned into the bar top and shelves. The bar carries seasonal drafts, bottled beers, wine, and cocktails.

Once an open backdoor patio to the Baja’s outdoor area, the enclosed back patio now serves as a large group dining area, hostess stand, and new entrance. While air conditioning keeps the room cool in the summer and a gas fireplace to warm it up during the chillier months, the partial garage doors can drop down to allow for fresh air and an even clearer view of the back bay.

Wooden posts with elaborate wood carvings from a local designer can be seen throughout both portions of the Baja Restaurant’s front building.

Baja Restaurant’s newly enclosed back patio which now serves as the entrance. (Southside Daily)

For those looking for hot or cold coffee, grab-and-go lunch, and a wide open view of Back Bay, Baja’s Bay View room is home to Baja Coffee Co. The Bay View will open Memorial Day weekend and extend its hours this year to include lunch offerings, while also continuing to offer live nightly entertainment.

In addition to dining and enjoying drinks in the Baja and Bay View, evenings are packed with family kickball games, karaoke, live bands, and acoustic Sundays. Reeve is also a dedicated yoga practitioner, and he hopes to bring back yoga classes as well.

As a final hurrah on the beach, Reeve hosts the Baja Surf Classic contest every September that donates to Children’s Hospital of The King’s Daughters and locals in need.


Back Bay view of the Baja Restaurant. (Southside Daily)

Weddings start to heat up as the temperatures increase in May with the Back Bay backdrop lending to spectacular sunset pictures.

“We have 3/4 of an acre fenced in to host private events and keep the other half open to the public,” Reeves said.

The Baja is open seasonally, closing after Labor Day to allow the Reeve’s to travel — chasing the sun and the warmer weather.

Learn more about the Baja Restaurant by clicking here.

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