Backfin Restaurant Sold, Closing for Renovations Saturday

June 30th, 2011 by Amber Lester



Backfin will be rebranded as The Cove.

After 25 years in business, the Backfin seafood restaurant will close its doors Saturday for a make-over.

In mid-August, the restaurant will reopen as The Cove Tavern and Taqueria. Owner Waverly Brooks has sold the business to Curtis Lyons, owner of Roger Brown’s in Portsmouth and president of the Portsmouth Independent Restaurant Association. Brooks, a former football coach, said that after 25 years in the business, it was a good time to move on. “They’re good people, and they’re going to keep it a local type of place,” he said. “I didn’t want a chain group to take over.”

Lyons said he consulted with Brooks for more than two years about ways to update the business, but in the end, Brooks decided to sell. Owning a restaurant wasn’t always his goal. “It was kinda something to do, so I decided to give it a try,” he said. “It became a good local place, with a good local clientele.”

The updates will begin once the Backfin closes on Saturday. Lyons plans to update the building with hardwood floors, new booth seating, a fireplace in the dining room, plus two more on the patio and add more windows. The bar area, both inside and outside, will be updated, and the outside dining area will become an all-seasons patio suitable for use year-round.

Fans of Roger Brown’s will be happy to see some favorite menu items, such as the Asian Nachos, appear on The Cove’s menu, but the restaurant will not have the same sports theme, Lyons said. TVs around the bar will show Sunday football games, but the dining room will be TV-free.

While the menu will still focus on fresh seafood, it will have a new Latin influence. The Cove will offer fish and beef tacos, with fresh salsas and guacamoles, alongside the standard seafood and tavern fare. Lyons said most of the entrees will cost between $7 and $13. “It’s a neighborhood restaurant,” he said. “We’re going to be there for the locals, but will hopefully do some tourism and timeshare business, too.”

As for Brooks, he’s not sure what’s next, but it’ll still involve seafood. “I’ll probably go fishing,” he said with a laugh.

30 Responses to Backfin Restaurant Sold, Closing for Renovations Saturday

  1. Anonymous

    June 30, 2011 at 12:38 pm

    It’s been a pleasure working with you over the years, Wav!!! Best of luck with your future endeavors!

  2. Anonymous

    June 30, 2011 at 12:40 pm

    I hope the new Owner is savvy enough to accept American Express – I never leave home without it!

  3. Anonymous

    June 30, 2011 at 12:48 pm

    Sorry to see the Backfin go, I was just telling someone last night it is my favorite place to go for seafood. Hopefully the new owner can fill the opening in this town by offering a nice bar for locals with good service & reasonable prices. That is what is really missing here.

  4. Anonymous

    June 30, 2011 at 1:30 pm

    Wow. The end of an era. Backfin was by far the best restaurant in the area. The best thing about the Fin was that the owner only catered to locals. No timeshare crowd. We need another spot like that!

  5. Anonymous

    June 30, 2011 at 1:40 pm

    Thanks for keeping it local. That is what made Backfin special and good the tradition will continue. 25 years deserves a shift in focus. We will miss you. Always a favorite.

  6. Anonymous

    June 30, 2011 at 1:42 pm

    WOW! I have been a frequent diner at the Backfin for years – even back when it was in the building off of Jamestown Rd. We love the food and hope the new owners we keep the great seafood menu including the hush puppies. Good Luck, Waverly – I’m sure you will enjoy fishing.

  7. Anonymous

    June 30, 2011 at 1:58 pm

    I’m going to miss my Backfin Salad!!! Thanks Wave, you’ve been a great host. I’m sure we’ll see you around.

  8. Anonymous

    June 30, 2011 at 2:19 pm

    Thank you… Waverly & Associates you have been Good Neighbors in the Community … you will be missed… on to your next adventures in life

  9. Anonymous

    June 30, 2011 at 2:26 pm

    I know of Roger Browns.
    I am sorry that this change is happening in my neighborhood.
    It’s no place for a dive that open late.

  10. Anonymous

    June 30, 2011 at 2:37 pm

    If you hope it will remain the same you will be sorely disappointed.If the new owners wanted to keep it the same they wouldn’t have purchased it and the old owners wouldn’t have sold it. Changes will come. Not all changes are for the better. Let’s hope it will remain a quality place to eat.[quote name=”Mary Lou Clark”]WOW! I have been a frequent diner at the Backfin for years – even back when it was in the building off of Jamestown Rd. We love the food and hope the new owners we keep the great seafood menu including the hush puppies. Good Luck, Waverly – I’m sure you will enjoy fishing.[/quote]

  11. Anonymous

    June 30, 2011 at 2:45 pm

    Thank you Waverly for 25 years of good food and a great place to take company. Rarely missed a Wednesday evening in the summer listening to music while hanging with my friends. Mr Lyons has a challenge before him following your class act.

  12. Anonymous

    June 30, 2011 at 2:53 pm

    good luck,Waverly and thanks for a job well done!No easy task in these days!
    Beethoven’s Inn
    (formally,thank the lord!)

  13. Anonymous

    June 30, 2011 at 3:27 pm

    Sorry to see you go Waverly. It certainly won’t be the same without you! Best wishes to you and your family!

  14. Anonymous

    June 30, 2011 at 3:52 pm

    Wave: 25 yrs, I guess its about time you took a few days off! Good luck with next career, let’s have a few beers…. Bods

  15. Anonymous

    June 30, 2011 at 4:25 pm

    Just what we need … another restaurant with a Latin flare. Don’t we have enough Mexican / Latin restaurants in Williamsburg?!

  16. Anonymous

    June 30, 2011 at 4:52 pm

    This is very bad news. Crab balls, the chowder,the Backfin salad, the great atmosphere. Always the first place my daughter wanted to go when she visited. Always a place I could take people for a delightful meal.

    I feel a good friend has suddenly died.

  17. Anonymous

    June 30, 2011 at 6:10 pm

    Sorry to see the Backfin go but I am excited about the new restaurant. My family and I enjoy seafood and Mexican, and prefer to frequent nonchain restaurants with reasonable prices, so we’ll be there to try it out!

  18. Anonymous

    June 30, 2011 at 7:09 pm

    The Backfin will now be one of the last hometown restaurants to fade away. It is really a shame but most people have no idea how difficult it is to run and maintain a restaurant.

    Waverly, you did a fantastic job meeting and exceeding everyone’s expectations for 25 years and you will be missed!

    Hopefully the new owners will be as involved in the communtiy and W&M as The Backfin.

    Roger Browns menu is varied and it will be fun for something different in Williamsburg. Remember…..Latin means much more than Mexican.

  19. Anonymous

    June 30, 2011 at 8:40 pm

    So now my favorite eatery is going, and in comes yet another Mexican/Latin place? This is something we certainly do not need!! I am so disappointed, and can’t see myself going to The Cove for Mexican Fish!!

  20. Anonymous

    June 30, 2011 at 9:48 pm

    My family and I are very sorry to see you go. I’ve enjoyed dining at the Backfin since I was a law student at W&M in the 90’s and as a parent of two young children since returning to the area in 2003. Thanks for offering great food and service in a unique setting over the years(and not selling to a chain restaurant). Best wishes for much success in your next endeavor.

  21. Anonymous

    June 30, 2011 at 10:20 pm

    We would stop in once a week for lunch and were always greeted warmly by the owner. I will miss my Barbeque salad and blackened tuna sandwich! Glad I stopped by tonight to pick up some to-go. I had no idea they were selling. So sad, but realize that they deserve a break from the restaurant business. Thanks for the many years of great service.

  22. Anonymous

    June 30, 2011 at 11:05 pm

    Good luck to the leaving owners. A great restaurant standard to the community.

  23. Anonymous

    July 1, 2011 at 2:21 am

    Will miss the Backfin – great place to go for a casual meal! Loved the Backfin salad & great catfish. Hopefully the new owners will keep it a casual, local-friendly place…

  24. Anonymous

    July 1, 2011 at 2:04 pm

    Best wishes to Wave, Laura, Carlos, Jerry…enjoyed working with you. I’ll miss the cornbread, crabcakes and key lime pie!

  25. Anonymous

    July 1, 2011 at 3:11 pm

    So sad to hear the Backfin is closing, but so happy for Waverly to have a full Rockfish season without having to run back to the restaurant! I spent 11 years working there for Wave! Still my favorite job! See you Saturday night, Wave!


  26. Anonymous

    July 2, 2011 at 2:07 am

    Mixed emotions on this. I always wanted to like the Backfin and tried it repeatedly, as I love seafood and always try to support locally owned places. Despite numerous attempts, I never had a good meal there and actually got sick once after crab cakes. Wish someone was keeping it a seafood place.

  27. Anonymous

    July 2, 2011 at 3:31 am

    Please, Please not another Mexican restaurant.At least if you must do anything remotely Latino please let it be a Spanish Tapas Restaurant like La Tasca in Alexandria,Va. but enough with the Mexican influence in cuisine here in Williamsburg already!

  28. Anonymous

    July 2, 2011 at 2:08 pm

    we loved backfin, sorry to see you go…

  29. Anonymous

    July 3, 2011 at 5:55 pm

    Much to my shame I have never been to the Backfin. From the pro comments I have come to realize that I have missed eating at a great restauran. I have been visiting Williamsburg for many years. So I never found the time to eat at the Backfin.

  30. Anonymous

    July 20, 2011 at 1:54 am

    We hope the people will keep the same food as Wav had It’s one thing for sure that Man knew how to Make Cocktail Sauce,I’ve never eat any better then what he made.That Fried Shrimp was out of this World that was our Favorite.We sold Wav crab meat for app 25 years and him and Mrs Sutton in Gloucester Va was great people to deal with,you just can’t find any better anywhere.But now Wav and Laura might have some time to come over and spend some time with us.If that’s what they wanted then we’re happy for them. I know the feeling we sold our business in 2007 and I’m so glad we did the way things are today.Plus Mr Bonniville had a Heart attack and has 2 stents he just could not do it anymore. GOD BLESS ALL The BONNIVILLE’S in Gloucester Va.

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