YORK-After more than 17 years in operation, Bay Haven Grille temporarily closed on George Washington Highway in May after one of its owners had to call it quits due to health reasons. Now, roughly four months later, the restaurant has reopened under new ownership.
“I was diagnosed with an autoimmune disease last year, and my doctor pretty much said ‘keep doing what you’re doing and you’re going to be permanently crippled in a couple of years,’” said Erin Fox, one of the original owners of Bay Haven Grille. “I turned 40 in May and feel like I have lots of life to live, so it was a hard to decision.”
Fox said that co-owners, Matt and Russ Arnold, who are brothers, decided they wanted to leave as a team, just as they started the popular Yorktown eatery many years ago.
“We’ve known each other since college and went to Virginia Tech together,” said Fox. “I grew up in York County, about two miles away from the restaurant, and Matt and Russ are from upstate New York. I kind of swayed them to stay in Virginia, and we all opened the restaurant in December 2005.”
The three owners worked as chefs at the restaurant, creating a loyal patronage with their signature seafood, pasta, and sandwich dishes.
“It’s been a rewarding experience,” said Fox. “We started off working at the catering department within the culinary division at Virginia Tech, to then operating our restaurant in York County. In the beginning, I didn’t necessarily see myself being in a kitchen for such a long time, but our customers became accustomed to the way we did things. We succeeded and built our business up from nothing to a very, very nice place to enjoy a meal.”
The restaurant’s new owner, Collin McDowell, officially purchased the business on Friday, September 23, and plans to run the restaurant with his business partner, Dr. Alvean Lyons. Their intent is to offer the same delicious recipes and meals that have made the restaurant so popular.
A soft opening was held the weekend after McDowell purchased the eatery, where some lucky customers enjoyed a meal by reservation. McDowell reverted to the restaurant’s original hours of operation on Tuesday, September 27.
McDowell said he was intrigued when he heard Bay Haven Grille was for sale.
“I live in the community, my kids go to school in the community, and York County is one of these places where everyone seems to know everyone else,” said McDowell. “Bay Haven Grille is kind of like York County’s ‘Cheers.’ I wanted to do something that would give the county what they wanted, which is to keep the restaurant like it is, only with different ownership.”
The restaurant’s new leadership said that they intend to keep the restaurant’s current employees on staff, though they’ve hired new chefs to replicate the restaurant’s original recipes.
“We really want to honor what it is that Erin has created,” said Lyons. “Too often, when businesses are purchased, there’s an erasing of the history of the business, and we really wanted to make sure that we honored what she worked very hard to build. Our goal as business partners is always to invest in the things that bring people together and to honor the people who originally created them.”
For it’s first month under new ownership, Bay Haven Grille will offer a condensed menu of the restaurant’s original recipes. As the new chefs familiarize themselves with their new surroundings, they’ll add more local favorites to their repertoire along the way.
Bay Haven Grille is located at 6500 George Washington Memorial Highway, Suite A next to the Harley Davidson store in the Marketplace at Yorktown shopping center. Hours of operation are 11am to 11pm Tuesday through Thursday, 11am to midnight Friday and Saturday, and 11am to 10pm on Sunday. The restaurant is closed on Monday.