Flock to The Grey Goose to Feed Your Whole Family

Words by Louise Casini Hollis.
Images courtesy of The Grey Goose.

Dana Epstein is unstoppable.  As joint owners of The Grey Goose restaurant in Hampton, Dana and her husband Philip have been keeping the families of Hampton Roads fed throughout the pandemic. “Immediately, I think like there was this shock,” said Dana, “almost like it’s a snow day when they call for snow and we say, ‘Oh it will pass.’ And then after a week we realized this isn’t going away. So, I immediately got to thinking, ‘Families are at home, and what does a family need?’  People don’t like to cook, or they can’t cook, or they don’t want to cook, and it occurred to me immediately that we needed to offer family style meals.” 

Some kind of rare beef with mashed potatoes

Thus was born the Grey Goose’s Family Style meals.  These dinners boast generous portions of family favorites like Pot Roast, Meatloaf and Salisbury Steak. “I did fried chicken one night and people lost their minds!” laughed Dana. Each meal is designed to serve 4 adults generously so that it can accommodate a family with multiple children easily, or offer leftovers for an additional meal. The offering has proved to be very popular. “It’s a two sided street for both of us,” notes Dana, “and with the pandemic I just felt like that was the only way I was going to save my business.”  

A thick burger and fries

Dana and Philip, both graduates of Johnson & Wales University, have been cooking for the families of Hampton Roads for over 30 years. Dana specialized in Culinary Arts and Philip in Baking and Pastry, which led him to the position as head baker for Colonial Williamsburg for 15 years. The couple purchased The Grey Goose in 2007 from sisters Donna Catlett and Barbara Jones. “Donna was my neighbor when I was a kid growing up, so I’ve known the restaurant since the beginning. [The building] used to be a shoe store when I was a little kid – I used to buy my ballet shoes here,” Dana reminisced.

The original incarnation of The Grey Goose was a tea room for 25 years, designed to serve shoppers in downtown Hampton. “The name was based on some of the Mother Goose’s nursery rhymes,” recounted Dana. Over the years, as retail shops have moved up the Peninsula and the area has become a business district, the Epsteins realized there was a demand for a more full service restaurant. To respond to this need, they added Saturday and Sunday Brunches, alcohol, dinner service, full service catering, and entertainment such as Acoustic and Trivia Nights.  

Those same home-made chips with onions and beand and maybe chili, with a beer and a menu

“My husband and I love going to the Pub Trivia night, improv comedy night, and also their ‘dinnertainment’ events,” writes peninsula resident Melissa James. “Our favorites were Lucy’s Christmas Carol and both original Golden Girls shows. The owners really listen to what their customers want and go out of their way to shape the business to demand. That has always impressed me,” she added.

Listening is one of Dana’s best skills, which led her to The Grey Goose’s latest endeavor, a Kid’s Katering service. “I was taking a class with the State of Virginia and there were 16 business people in this class,” shared Dana, “and at one point a half-dressed little boy walks through the screen of one of the girl’s pictures on the Zoom feed and she’s like, ‘Oh my God! I’m so sorry!’ and the little kid was like, ‘What’s for lunch Mommy?’, and I thought, “Oh my God!  Every kid in America is saying that right now – like what a nightmare in that you’re trying to be professional and run your business and yet your kids have to eat.  So how can we help?” 

A sandwich that looks like it's got some cheese and egg and maybe avocado with home-made chips

To determine the best menu, Dana consulted several parents she knows and set up a Facebook group to find out what the children of Hampton Roads want for lunch. “Moms are funny,” observes Dana. “They say, ‘Well, I want my kids to eat this, but what they will eat is this.’ And it’s very different.”  Each week Dana will post kid friendly menus and that contain 5 days worth of breakfast and lunch menus as well as an option for snacks that will be delivered at the beginning of the week to your home.  Parents and caregivers can order online or call the restaurant to place their order. And delivery? “I’ll go anywhere,” declares Dana. “My  husband’s from Norfolk. If I had a delivery in Norfolk, we’d go and we’d visit his parents. If I have to go to Williamsburg, I’ve got family I’d visit.  You know I think we’d make it work. Oh, to have such problems!”  

The restaurant business can be a tough game even in good times, but add a pandemic and the rules completely change.  Dana admits they were treading water at first as they navigated these new waters, but that turned around in May. “We were extremely fortunate to be contacted by World Central Kitchen,” said Dana, “and asked to produce 900 meals a week for them.”  World Central Kitchen, founded by chef Jose Andrés and his wife Patricia, works to find innovative ways to end hunger and poverty. They have fed victims of recent natural disasters including those along the Gulf Coast in the path of hurricane Laura. Hampton Roads became a recipient of the foundation when, “Pharell Williams donated a lot of money for use in our region,” Dana explained.  “So Social Services contacted me and the Hampton Housing Authority contacted me and that’s who were the recipients of these meals. I mean honestly, without that we would have probably not made it. It was a game changer for us. [The recipients] were all shut-ins and they were calling us, thanking us for the nice meal.” Funding for the program stopped early in July, but Dana says Social Services still gets inquiries for The Grey Goose’s special of the day. “It definitely validated everything we knew we were doing,” added Dana.

The top of a chocolate cupcake (but it's HUGE)

“I feel like we really persevered,” shared Dana, “because I didn’t have a choice. Like in my mind – go big or go home. So I wasn’t going to give in.” Longtime customer Katy Feld says, “They are a hard working couple who do their best to offer a unique, personal dining experience. [It’s a] great establishment for the whole family.”  And if all of Dana’s new ideas  and hard work weren’t enough, they’re soon opening a new restaurant, The Baker’s Wife Bistro, which was in the works before the pandemic hit Hampton Roads. Located on the corner of Mallory and Mellon streets in Pheobus, The Baker’s Wife Bistro will feature American and French cuisine.  Dana hopes to be open by early November.

“We’re here for the long haul,” promises Dana. “We’ve been healthy, we’ve been smart, we’ve been precautious. We’re doing all the things we’re supposed to, and from that standpoint I’m not worried.” So, until we can all get back to normal, The Grey Goose is here to help families furnish their tables with tasty meals for all ages and offer a safe haven for socially distanced outings for all. 

Check out their website for Family Style Meals or Kids Katering. You can also find them on Facebook, and check out The Baker’s Wife Bistro!
The Grey Goose Restaurant and Catering
118 Old Hampton Lane
Hampton, Va. 23669

Shop Local Spotlight- Petite Sweets

Words by Moriah Joy.
Images courtesy of Petite Sweets.

For many people, COVID-19 has impacted their way of life very differently. Many people are out of work, some are working from home and some continued working with major alterations to their business. With many small businesses unable to survive or struggling to get back on their feet, here at Spotlight, we are passionate about giving a platform to local small businesses. For this series, we will regularly feature a different small business in Hampton Roads and share their story. (Editor’s note: Want to be featured? Email us!)

This week I sat down with Sheryl Harris and Denita Twine, the owners of Petite Sweets in Portsmouth. For those who have ventured to Portsmouth or are from the area, they know what a delight this little shop truly is. These two women are not only the owners and founders of the bakery but are the sole employees. They make sure that every facet of their business meets the criteria of finding comfort and joy in the little things and little desserts, which was the inspiration for their business. Their passion for baking has always been present as they would often use baking as a way to bond with their kids. The idea for wanting to open and have an actual store came in November of 2018. At that time they began running the business from home until they were finally able to open a location in February of this past year.

chocolate cupcakes with icing and pretzels

Sheryl: “We believe in comfort food but we like to push the envelope and try new things.”

For people who either enjoy small indulgences, or simply like to be able to try an array of flavors, Petite Sweets is the perfect spot. The type of desserts they offer include jarred desserts (such as puddings and cheesecakes), cupcakes, and mini pies. With the market for bakeries being competitive, Sheryl and Denita are always trying to find fun new flavors and desserts for their customers to try. Some bold flavors on their menu for this month include turtle cheesecake jars, margarita cupcakes, and chocolate bourbon pecan pie. They update and change their flavors each month, making it important to keep up with their social media to keep track of favorites. [For more flavors and updates on their business, follow them on both Instagram and Facebook.]

a white bag of some kind with a crumble like desert in a bowl next to it

Denita: “I think the most rewarding part of the business is the feedback we get. When we first opened, we were wondering what the customers would think, like, ‘Are they going to like it?’ Then having some of them come immediately back into the store to tell us how much they loved it- it’s really great just knowing that they’re enjoying it.”

The most difficult aspect of owning their own business so far has been getting started. After approximately one year of figuring out the best ways to efficiently make quality desserts and distribute them, they ran into unforeseen complications. March 17th, when the stay-at-home orders went into effect, Petite Sweets unfortunately had to close its doors to maintain the safety of themselves and their customers. Now since being reopened, they’ve had to change their initial business model by adding delivery through their website, since their original idea for business was reliant upon walk-up business from neighboring stores.

Sheryl: “We’re big believers in great customer service. You can go anywhere to eat a cupcake but the thing that we pride ourselves on is letting our customers know how much they’re valued.”

a pink cake with macrons on top

A typical day at the store starts out at 6:30am or 7am to start baking treats. From there the day becomes a balancing act as the two women work to both staff the storefront, keep track of paperwork, and complete deliveries for orders. The passion for their craft is apparent in the dedication they bring to making sure their products are the best quality with unparalleled customer service. 

As more events are able to happen with social distancing and other precautions, Sheryl and Denita want people to know that they are open to catering events for any occasion such as weddings, birthdays, anniversaries, and many more.

For more information, placing an order, or request catering for an event please visit their website.

Shop Local Spotlight- Alkalicious

Words by Moriah Joy.
Images courtesy of Alkalicious.

For many people, COVID-19 has impacted their way of life very differently. Many people are out of work, some are working from home and some continued working with major alterations to their business. With many small businesses unable to survive or struggling to get back on their feet, here at Spotlight, we are passionate about giving a platform to local small businesses. For this series, we will regularly feature a different small business in Hampton Roads and share their story. (Editor’s note: Want to be featured? Email us!)

A table with umbrella outside their chesapeake location.

This week I had the pleasure of sitting down with the owner of Alkalicious, which is a juice bar and plant-based grill located in the Greenbriar area of Chesapeake. Lisa Glapion-Bey is the wife of a Navy veteran who enjoys sharing the benefits of healthy living while always trying to find new ways to experiment with plant-based meals full of bold flavors. She had the idea for opening the juice bar while she was on deployment with her husband. They helped fellow sailors and friends reach personal goals with simple modifications in diet. It was during one of many vegan dinners they were serving to friends that Lisa floated the idea to open a juice bar one day.

“So I went to my husband and said, ‘When we get back home we should open a juice bar.’ And he was like, ‘Yes! Let’s do it!’ during the dinner. Which was a little surprising because typically big talks like starting a business would involve a sit down and talking it out together but he was just as excited as I was.”

A rainbow variety of juice bottles

In May of 2016, they began planning and figuring out the details necessary to make their business a success. Part of the planning for the restaurant included Lisa studying raw and alkaline nutrition and becoming a Certified Wellness Counselor and Certified Personal Trainer. In October of 2016, they were able to open their doors and start helping members of the community achieve their health goals. Initially their business had started out serving only juices and smoothies, focusing on exposing the benefits of plant-based living to meet the demands of various goals the customers had set for themselves. Most of their customers would come in for lunch to grab a juice or a smoothie and then would go to another restaurant to grab a sandwich or other food to accompany their drink. After seeing this, they decided to add plant-based food to their menu and offer vegan meal prep.

“We really want to help people no matter where they are in their healthy living journey. Whether it’s experimenting with clean living or serving a variety of dietary goals such as keto or vegan. We’ve also been able to help people who experience different health issues such as diabetes, cancer, weight loss, high blood pressure and so much more.” 

Their black bean burger with cheese, lettuce, and onion and a pineapple and orange juice drink

For  Lisa, growing her business she has encountered and overcome many obstacles but has found that in whatever challenge arose organization was the key to get through it. After her and husband came back from deployment, they found that her husband was having difficulties running the business with her due to mental health hardships. These were made more prominent when the store opened, leaving Lisa to run the store by herself.

“Wearing so many different hats is probably the most challenging aspect of running a small business. It’s like having a meeting by yourself where you are every department and thinking ‘Okay so we have payroll, and then we should hire some more people, oh but then we should probably be training this person more.’ Some days my to-do lists seem never ending. But it’s always important to just be task orientated.”

Two different smoothies, one is brownie batter and one is Strawberry

Alkalicious has been fortunate enough that they didn’t have to close their doors completely during quarantine and made the proper adjustments to keep both patrons and their employees safe. They began rotating staff so that the shop had limited people and no one lost their job then moved to take-out only. Due to initial quarantine, there was a lot of time spent figuring out how to take the right precautions. However, the past two weeks business has been starting to pick back up.

“We were worried because it took us all of those three years to build the customer base that we have but thankfully we still had our loyal customers during shut down. Even on the days when we aren’t busy [with orders], we’re still busy with additional procedures. Sanitizing and cleaning everything, making sure that we’re paying attention to the online orders. It’s taken a bit to make sure everything runs as smoothly as possible.”

A flatbread pizza with onion and maybe zucchini?

Lisa’s passion for healthy living is extremely apparent in not only the way that she talks about her business but the empathy she has for her customers and their journeys. During the stay-at-home orders, she helped many customers focus on building their immune systems, prevent mucus buildup, and show people that they can do detoxes and still feel satisfied and enjoy the flavors. For her it’s also one of the most rewarding aspects of her job when customers who have been struggling with various health issues come back saying they have a clean bill of health. 

One of the unique aspects of Alkalicious is that Lisa offers consultations for health guidance and nutrition to help people be able to personalize their goals. She wants her customers to know that plant-based food is delicious and that they work very hard to go out of their way to make it flavorful and guilt free. As of yesterday since the state has moved into Phase 3, Alkalicious now offers pick-up, take-out, and dine-in. They are currently working towards a delivery option. 

For more information or to place your order visit Alkalicious’ website.
If you would like to nominate a small business for our Shop Local series please email us

Things to Do During Quarantine: Lipgloss and Lashes Virtual Drag Brunch at 37th and Zen

Words by Christopher Bernhardt.
Images courtesy of 37th and Zen.

It’s odd to think that just a few months ago, in February to be exact, the world was a much different place. There was live theatre, movies in movie theatres, dine in restaurants and there were weekly drag shows in several locations across the Hampton Roads area. Now, as many theatre artists, restaurant workers and many others try to figure out what is next and adjust to what has often been referred to as the “new normal”, we are left to wonder when will things return to how they used to be. The stress that comes from so many having to adjust to working from home, home schooling, virtual learning or filling for unexpected unemployment makes it hard to stay positive during a rough time but there is a silver lining. That silver lining is Lipgloss and Lashes Virtual Drag Brunch at 37th and Zen.

Before social distancing and stay at home orders, the Lipgloss and Lashes Drag Brunch at 37th was flourishing. So much so, it had recently grown from having one seating on Sunday mornings to having two; packing the house with audiences who want to come have a good time celebrating with their friends and family, enjoying a good meal, superb cocktails and a fabulous show by some of the best Drag Queens from around Virginia; including some that travel from Richmond and Roanoke.

When the Governor instituted the shutdown of Virginia to stop the spread of Covid-19, this brought a halt to the brunch and left the performers without an opportunity or place to perform. As the world changed and social interactions started evolving into Zoom meetings, Facebook Live, Google MeetUps, and YouTube series to pass the time and keep connections; a fantastic opportunity bloomed. Since 37th and Zen was able to stay open and provide Curbside, Take Out or Delivery, the decision was made to provide a little entertainment and joy to so many that need a distraction. Bring back Brunch- but do it virtual. 

Now, every Sunday, Noelia Bella, Jasmine Devoux Spaulding, and their cast of Queens perform virtually while 37th and Zen is open with a limited Brunch menu and To Go cocktails. From 11:30AM – 2:00PM, you can order Pick Up, Curbside or order Delivery through Postmates and get tasty offerings like the Hangover Burger or the Big, Luscious and Tasty and take home your very own Quarantine Punch or Mimosa kit to go.

Then at 1:00PM, you can join the show through YouTube Live which is then shared through Facebook to reach more viewers. Of course, with any new technology, there have been a few hurdles to overcome; from streaming difficulties to how to “Tip the Queens”. As the learning curve lessens, working through these hurdles has become easier making the event as fun and enjoyable as the live show.

Since the Drag performers are used to having an audience where $1s, $5s, $10s and $20s run rampant and there is no audience there to tip, during the streaming performance each queen has their PayPal, Cash App or Venmo shown throughout their numbers so the at home audience can tip their favorite performers or numbers. 

With three virtual brunches successfully completed, and not knowing when the live brunch will be able to happen again; this has become the “New Normal” for Lipgloss and Lashes and is providing a glitter filled ball of joy to Sunday. One of the benefits of the new streaming platform allows the ability to reach audiences not just in Hampton Roads but all over the country- from Florida to New York to California- all from the comfort of your own home without having to get out of their pajamas.

For more information about 37th and Zen, follow their Facebook page @37thandZen or you can reach them directly at (757) 533-5151 and order To Go, Curbside or Deliver, 7 days a week from 4PM-12AM.
For Delivery options, outside of Brunch, 37th and Zen is on Postmates, UberEATS and Door Dash and has daily specials and deals that sometimes include some already made To Go Cocktails.
To watch, the Lipgloss and Lashes Virtual Drag Brunch visit and subscribe to their YouTube at Lipgloss&Lashes TV.