Originally, John Power was just going to consult on what to do with the former Chow space on Norfolk’s North Colley. “But the minute I stepped in, I knew I was the one that had to do it,” says the seasoned restaurateur who also co-owns The Blue Point on the Outer Banks. “The place has a lot of sentimental value for me.” He recalls his father, a banker, frequenting it in the 1960s when it was The Igloo. Later, as The Coach House, it was his hangout. So, along with partners Kevin and Dana Kern (both of Ghent’s No Frill Grill for 15 years), Power revived the name from his coming-of-age days and opened in January.
He acknowledges that there could be confusion between The Coach House and (Omar’s) Carriage House. But beyond nostalgia, the image of a coach house, a cozy and quaint place where you’re welcomed, appealed to him. The new restaurant’s rich woods radiate that warmth and walls adorned with nautical maps and vintage Norfolk photos celebrate its setting. “The port, the water, that’s what Norfolk’s all about,” says Power.
Chef Kevin Kern sections his creative American, “something for everybody” menu into Snacks, Soups & Greens, Small Plates (cornflower fried fresh Gulf shrimp, braised short rib risotto/$12-18), Big Plates (creole etouffee, bison meatloaf/$17-33) and Sandwiches (pulled duck BBQ, lobster roll/$12-22).
“It’s thoughtful, it’s how people eat now,” says Power. “Maybe a salad and an app. Then there’s room for dessert.”
The Coach House is currently open, Tuesday–Saturday from 4–8:30 p.m., for limited dining on the outdoor patio and takeout.
5103 Colley Avenue, Norfolk. 757-489-0389. Dinner nightly eventually weekend brunch. Available for private parties at lunch. ColleyCoachHouse.com