VIRGINIA BEACH – It’s 6 p.m. on a Tuesday and the evening dinner crowd is beginning to trickle in as Lindsay Bennett animatedly talks about why, after just 18 months, she suddenly transitioned her restaurant on bustling Shore Drive from a wine bar to a burger joint.
Bennett, who also owns Press 626 Wine Bar in Norfolk, opened Press Wine Bar on Shore Drive in Virginia Beach hoping to emulate the atmosphere and the success of her Norfolk venture.
But it just never quite took off the way she had hoped.
So last month she closed the doors on the wine bar and after a quick remodel opened Riptide Burgers and Tiki Bar early this month.
“I think the place (Press Wine Bar) had an identity crisis from the beginning,” Bennett said.
Business was always good between 6:30 p.m. and 8:30 p.m. she said, but not so good before and after those times.
“So I told my husband I was going to do something real quick and change it up.”
And change it up she did: From a wine bar with a selection of 300 or so wines and a menu to match, to a burger joint – of which there are already quite a few in the Shore Drive area.
“We want to be different though,” Bennett said. “We really want to focus on the burgers. I just want it to be a nice little neighborhood bar.”
Riptide’s menu features a wide variety of burger selections and sides to match (mac-n-cheese, French fries, sweet potato fries); skewers (shrimp, filet mignon, chicken); and a few vegetarian and gluten free choices.
Bennett said when she was looking into possible changes, a tiki bar made sense in a beach town.
“We’re one block off the bay and there are none on Shore Drive. Plus, in my research I was reading about how they indirectly stem from the military,” she said.
She said she found that the origins of tiki bars in the United States stem from a gentleman in the 1930s who wanted to establish something that was familiar to the sailors and soldiers who had served in, and traveled in, areas of Polynesia and places that had a Polynesian influence.
“Being a business person I want everybody who comes into my restaurant to feel comfortable. We’re offering a relaxing tiki vibe,” she said.
Tiki also means exotic drinks with pretty garnishments, served in fancy glasses.
“We have drinks you can’t get anywhere else on Shore Drive,” Bennett said, adding that includes their trademark Shore Sling.
She said Riptide is planning to offer live music and the outdoor patio is pet-friendly (with a complimentary treat of bacon for dogs).
Riptide is open Sunday through Wednesday 11 a.m. to 11 p.m., and 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. Thursday, Friday, and Saturday. Happy hour specials are offered Monday-Friday from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m.