A phoenix from the ashes

Published 10:12 pm Thursday, August 18, 2016

A troubled restaurant site that has long been a favorite of area residents has a chance at new life following the announcement of a major plan for redevelopment by a couple with a history of providing top-notch dining experiences in Suffolk.

Brian and Teresa Mullins, who own Vintage Tavern and River Stone Chophouse, received approval for their requests for rezoning and conditional use permits on Wednesday for the property that used to be the location of Bennett’s Creek Restaurant and Marina, located at 3305 Ferry Road, within sight of Bridge Road.

The former restaurant had been a popular spot for locals at various times during the past, but it suffered from flooding during various storms through the years. Each time it flooded, previous owners had to close and renovate the restaurant, costing them valuable business during each of the closures.

Email newsletter signup

But there’s no place in Suffolk with a better restaurant view, and the Mullinses hope to turn the site back into a destination. That’s good news for Suffolk.

In fact, the couple has a plan much grander than simply restoring the restaurant. They will tear down the existing building and build the new facility above the floodplain. And they are planning a small marina-based community there, as well. There will be 22 detached condo-style cottages for people 55 and older; an outdoor pool for use by marina customers, residents and day-pass holders; a new marina; and more. Also, Ferry Road will be widened to 20 feet to accommodate the new traffic.

Recognizing the historical value of the site, the new owners will salvage lumber from the trees that have been cut down, using the lumber in a new tiki bar. And bricks from the old restaurant will also be reused.

The new marina is set to include 44 slips with power, water, cable television and dump services, as well as access to gas sales.

It has been sad to see the old Bennett’s Creek Restaurant decay on the side of Bennett’s Creek. We join many of the other citizens of Suffolk in waiting anxiously for a phoenix to rise from the metaphorical ashes of that site.