When Charlie's American Cafe moved to its current location at 4024 Granby, it was the passing of a torch in many ways. For more than 60 years, that space had belonged to the family-run eatery Veneziano. Charlie's built off of Veneziano's status as a neighborhood staple with
its own unique charm and loyal following, which had made the original Charlie's location on the corner of 18th and Granby a huge success for decades.
Since then, regulars, newcomers, and service personnel have all flowed through Charlie's doors to soak up the homey atmosphere and eat the American comfort food?especially the omelets packed with meats, mushrooms, and cheeses.
At dinner, carnivores can savor a turkey reuben on grilled rye topped with swiss, sauerkraut, and thousand island dressing, and the Red, White, and Blue burger, which achieves its color scheme with tomato, onion, and blue cheese; diners are legally obligated to salute it before digging in. Meanwhile, those with seafaring appetites dig into the fried oyster po boy on a bed of lettuce and tomato hugged by a club roll and the honey-marinated grilled salmon with dill and cucumber.
For Kombuchick Inc. owner Leslie Crews, the communal spirit that comes with brewing and sharing kombucha—a probiotic fermented tea—is integral to why she makes it a part of her lifestyle and business. And it's why she sells starter cultures for brewing it online at no profit. When Leslie started transitioning to a raw-food lifestyle, she became determined to brew her own kombucha. Soon enough, she found a starter culture from a woman on the Internet who brought Leslie into her home for a brewing demo—which was the first time Leslie realized the tea’s ability to create a communal spirit among its drinkers. Today, she hopes the healthful blends and brews that come from the recipes sold at her store continue to inspire the same sense of gratitude and generosity they spring from.
At Leslie's Kombuchick Bar, fizzy tea brews flow from taps or sit tight in bottles in regular and seasonal flavors. Each is blended from organic and fair-trade herbs wherever possible by Leslie, who likens her skill with blending herbs to “someone who knows how to play the piano by ear.” A dry green tea-based Bangkok Blazin’ melds lemongrass, ginger, and galangal, and a popular winter brew mixes allspice, cloves, and snowman hearts for sips of warm comfort. Depending on the season, the bar also stocks fresh fruit juices to mix with the kombucha on draft. Even the loose-leaf teas sold in her shop are the same she uses at the bar, which she hopes further encourage kombucha brewing in the community alongside her regular three-session brewing classes.
Born and raised in Portsmouth, Missy Kennett has always been a supporter of comfort food. As an adult, she even started a local bakery out of her small kitchen in Norfolk. Eventually, Missy needed a bigger space in which to showcase her goods, spurring the creation of Cafe M. There, Missy makes breads, pastries, and just about everything else from scratch. She has also built full breakfast and lunch menus, and hopes to one day offer her freshly made treats at farmers' markets, grocery stores, and beyond.
When you walk into Sugar Shack Cafe, you can smell the reason why sisters Cassandra and Tracy made it on to Food Network's Cupcake Wars, not to mention why they were named the best in the area by Hampton Roads Magazine for four straight years. Buttercream, chocolate, lemon, and other scents fill the space?a small, red brick house that was once turn-of-the-century Princess Anne's post office?and put the duo's cupcakes in new hands all day. That goes double for their Twisted Sisters Cupcakes truck that makes its way through six Hampton Roads cities throughout the week.
The duo uses only fresh, whole ingredients to craft their inventive sugary treats. Though the selection rotates weekly, some of their flavors include a cookie dough-stuffed cupcake, a pink lemonade cupcake, and The Keys, a lime curd and cheesecake cupcake atop a graham cracker crust.
Back at the cafe, the lunch hour brings in customers in search of the sisters' sandwiches and snacks made with locally sourced, farm-fresh fruits and veggies. They also put together sandwich trays and cupcake towers for special occasions, such as graduations, weddings, and promotions to Megadoctor.
The aroma of freshly roasted coffee beans lures passersby into Bean There Coffeehouse's two locations, where baristas reenergize sluggish bodies with a menu cascading with seasonal brews, such as strawberry cupcake and neapolitan lattes. The coffee shops' thoroughly vetted beans are plucked from the top 20% rated throughout the world, with special attention paid to the country of origin, the altitude, and the astrological sign of each bean. Serving up flavorful coffee is their top priority, and the staff also cultivates a homey, neighborhood feel at each establishment, welcoming guests to events such as coffee tastings, dessert pairings, and poetry slams.