With new years come fresh goals, focused resolutions, and inevitably, some changes.
It’s no different for me and my establishment, AVA Restaurant and Wine Bar. We’ve had many exciting moments, unique events, special meals, and even our share of trials and tribulations over the years. It’s been quite a ride! But after 16 years in the service industry, I’ve decided to take a break from the restaurant itself.
That’s right, the end of February — the 26th to be exact — will be our last night of full service at AVA.
It’s not you, it’s me, seriously!
Before you get sad, let me preface the announcement: This isn’t a closing out of necessity; the restaurant is doing as well as ever. Closing up shop is more about my personal desires and new directions in my life.
I’m 33 and haven’t worked fewer than 65 hours a week in nearly a decade. Phew — these gray temples didn’t come from nowhere!
I’ve worked nights and weekends my entire adult life. I also have held down additional day jobs from time-to-time (and all the time for the last year), as well as having extra catering some weekends, special event appearances, and fairly regular weekday catered luncheons. I’ve also experienced some health trials over the past few years that weighed on me even as I diligently plowed ahead out of love for my restaurant and guests.
But sometimes it’s just time for a change.
I’m so very happy about this decision on so many levels, from relief concerning the pace of working, to new avenues I’m pursuing. It’s that bittersweet passion where you love the thing you do but it can also take its toll, and sometimes get out-of-balance.
Here in Staunton I have a beautiful new home, and come the end of the daytime work day, this classic homebody really wants to be able to stay in at night with my puppies!
And I have a really cute and serious boyfriend who works during the day. At AVA, our schedules really clash. When he’s ready to call it a day, I’m getting cranked up for the second shift! Then I get home anywhere between 9-11pm just when he’s yawning and thinking that he has to be up and out by 7am.
It’d be great if the weekend was a respite, but the restaurant is going strong on Friday and Saturday nights, with a bevy of special events often scheduled for Sundays.
Now that the newness of our relationship has worn off and he doesn’t sit up with me all night, I get to see him for a grand total of about an hour a day on nights I work. Talk about two ships passing in the night!
And that madcap pace of life isn’t what gracious living in the gorgeous Shenandoah Valley is supposed to be about. When I’m in New York City, sure, let’s go all day and night. But most of the time I’m here, and work-life balance is what I crave.
Going forward with passion
In better news, I really like my new day job as a real estate agent. Not only do I get to work in our Harris family-owned business, James River Realty out of Lexington, Virginia, but I also get to enjoy architectural finds and picturesque settings, decorating schemes and renovation possibilities, and helping clients find their dream home and make it a reality. I love that!
I want to be able to cultivate this new skill more single-mindedly, and not have to leave in the middle of an important project to come sling (gourmet) hash for the evening!
All this is why I’m making this decision to wrap up one phase of life and begin another.
But don’t despair — we’ve got several weeks to enjoy the best of AVA as we wind down toward our good-bye!
We’ll host many special events in February of which we’d love you to be a part! We’ll have musical guests, wine dinners, wine expo(s) with amazing deals, a “Best of Menu” night, and Valentine’s Day specials. We sure hope to see you there!
And as we get closer to closing, I’ll share a link to my new personal blog Website which will include cooking videos and recipes, decorating tips, tricks, and ideas, and a contact form to hire me as a home personal chef and for catering. (I still want to stay in food service, just in a new and more manageable way.)
And of course I’d happily help you buy or sell a home!
I’m so very grateful for the people that I’ve met and the life that this little place has provided for me.
For the better part of two decades the majority of my closest friends are people that I’ve meet while being a waitress, bartender, or restauranteur. These connections mean the world to me and though I won’t be “hosting a dinner party” every week now, I hope to remain in contact with all of you.
As I embark on this next chapter in my life, I must say, thank you so much for the love and appreciation that you have shown to me and the “Little Restaurant That Could.”
One final and important note — please be aware that if you have any events scheduled with us, we will honor them for sure. Also, the restaurant will be available in March to rent if you would like to host a special event. If you’ve been thinking about hosting a bridal or baby shower, engagement party, office shindig, or one rocking girls night out, now’s your chance! Contact me for details.
Thank you again and onward and upward!
— Mary Beth Harris, Proprietress, AVA Restaurant and Wine Bar