Doug and Doris Bryant have been the owners of Victoria’s, a restaurant, for the past 30 years.
The restaurant, which offered classic American cuisine, has become a staple dinning experience in Williamsburg.
Then Doug died unexpectedly on March 14.
He was 61 years old.
That loss was quickly followed by the coronavirus pandemic, leaving Doris without her business partner and without a business.
She made the ultimate decision to sell the restaurant. With a formal letter and a sign in the window, she announced her decision on June 19.
“We have been standing side by side for 32 years, and at this juncture, I’m not interested in being in the industry in our business without him,” Doris said. “It’s a very passionate and emotional decision.”
The couple opened their first restaurant, then called Courtyard Café, at Williamsburg Crossing back in October of 1990, just three years after they got married. They expanded the restaurant in 2005 by renovating an old Burger King building into the suave Victoria’s front Williamsburg patrons know today.
“[Doug] had been working in the restaurant industry and he had an amazing mentor, then he decided it was something he wanted to do on his own. As time went on, and relationships developed, a couple decided to help each other, and that was me and him,” Doris said.
Doug worked as the main chef and business manager while Doris managed servers and looked over the cash register. Together they formed an essential dining spot in the Williamsburg area.
“To quote his father, not only recently but years ago, but [Doug] was a quintessential people’s person. He was energetic –I called him a workaholic– with a work ethic that was incomprehensible,” Doris said.
Doris added because of working in the restaurant industry, she and Doug had the chance to meet plenty of interesting people, too.
“If we were smart and had written everything down that we heard, then we’d never have to work a day in our lives. It’d be a best-seller,” she said.
Not only were the customers engaging, but the staff of Victoria’s have become an extended family to Doris. While the restaurant has been closed, some of the employees have been collecting unemployment while others have gone off to college. She said it was a natural fork in the road to transition into the next phase of their lives.
“The breakup of Victoria’s family has been very challenging,” Doris admitted.
Now with a for-sale sign in the window, Doris said there is a very small chance she might reopen the business if the restaurant doesn’t sell.
“Never say never, if the property doesn’t move as I hope, then I will reinvent it. And pick up the telephone. And I have a very strong suspicion that the core of my staff, which was a small staff, will be standing right beside me,” she said.
If anyone is interested in the restaurant and/or property, they should contact Doris Bryant at 757-810-6822. More information on the building and property is available on the Victoria’s website.
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