Ryan Hines pulls out an item from his desk with unabashed excitement, fingering it delicately as if marveling at a diamond. It’s his Grandmother Lillie Mae’s, circa 1930s, biscuit cutter. “Look carefully,” he says. “See Hines etched into it?” It’s emblematic of what he and business partner, Jay Kulas, want their new breakfast/brunch/lunchery, The Rustic Spoon in Virginia Beach’s Thoroughgood Commons, to embrace: tradition, comfort, honest-to-goodness food and family. “My dad, John, has been my ‘main guy’ doing all the carpentry. No contractor,” says Hines, who himself laid the bars’ bricks and hung rough-sawn yellow pine beams.
Kulas and his brother-in-law whittled the huge spoon hanging outside the restaurant (formerly Lubo) out of wood from Kulas’ home state, New Hampshire. A gas fireplace complements the rusticity. Along with Lillie Mae’s knuckle print biscuits, head chef Nick Shipman and sous chef Ross Fetterly (both from Leone’s) roll out spoonbread, chicken and waffle sliders, and carnitas hash. Hines has a deep history in food service and music (Ryan Hines Band, Spin City). Most notably, he was GM at Hot Tuna from 2015 to 2019 where he launched its popular brunch, and he’s logged many hours tending bars. Which explains why he’s as enthused about Rustic Spoon’s potables – “mammothmosas” (mimosas in giant, handled mason jars) and playful cereal shooters – as he is about that heirloom biscuit cutter.
The Rustic Spoon’s tented outdoor patio is currently open to diners at limited seating.
1658 Pleasure House Road, Virginia Beach. 757-937-8930. Facebook.com/therusticspoonvb/