Saturday, January 19th, 2019

S Shopper Stories


DOCK OF THE BAY II

Second Carrollton location offers family dining with same delicious food and great service

by Kelli Tatum


The Duffee family, from left: Mia, Yolanda, Isabella, Andrea, Sofia, Alexis, Maximo, Sean, Jr. and Sean, Sr.

The Duffee family, from left: Mia, Yolanda, Isabella, Andrea, Sofia, Alexis, Maximo, Sean, Jr. and Sean, Sr.

When crossing the James River Bridge into Isle of Wight County, travelers get a glance at a building that’s been around a long time and seen a lot of changes. However, the owner, Ron Dashiell, has always remained the same.

Ron opened and managed the building once known as South of the James in the 1980s. It was a grill and convenience store for the shipyard workers who would stop in every morning before their shift for a breakfast sandwich and cup of coffee. He would see them again in the afternoon to gas up, grab a quick snack or buy a gallon of milk for their family before heading home.

Although the store and grill closed decades ago, the building continued to transform into other businesses. “It was Bridges for 10 years, a bar and grill for an adult crowd,” Ron remembers. After a family illness, the owners of Bridges sold to The Virginia Company, an upscale restaurant whose owner was based in Norfolk. They performed a massive renovation to the building and gave it a nautical, modern look. After just a year in business, they were ready to sell.

Ron believes that this time, a family style restaurant is just what the building and community need.

“Third time’s a charm. It’s fate. Pure fate,” Ron says about the future of the building. Fate because his nephew, Sean Duffee, is the new tenant, bringing the building back into the family’s control.  As soon as The Virginia Company decided to close, Ron knew his nephew would finally have the chance to take over.

“Owning a building can be a tricky thing when renting it out. I had no control over who would inhabit it because of the legal bindings of the lease,” Ron explains. For years, the agreement allowed tenants to sell their lease to other businesses, so Ron had little influence over what business would reside there. “I was lucky to have good tenants through the years, but I’m so excited to see Sean get in here. He knows what he’s doing. He’s family-centered and has many years in the restaurant business. You could say it’s a recipe for success,” Ron shares.

Sean believes timing is everything. “The opportunity wasn’t there until now. And we are ready,” he says.

Sean and his family are no strangers to the area. Sean was raised in Churchland and has family in Smithfield and Carrollton. “I grew up in this place. Since my uncle ran the convenience store, I would come over here and play with my cousin. I have a lot of good memories here,”  Sean reminisces.


“We want to give this wonderful community
what they deserve;
a restaurant that is for family...”

—Sean Duffee, Owner



He and his wife Yolanda will be running the new restaurant, named Dock of the Bay II. “We are adding the ‘II’ to the end of it because we already have a restaurant in Portsmouth called Dock of the Bay. It was important that we gave this one its own identity, but let folks know it’s part of the family,” Sean explains. Their current location in Portsmouth can only seat 70 people. Because of strict watershed laws, the building cannot physically accommodate more, so the only opportunity to grow as a business meant a second location was needed. “The timing was just perfect. I was ready to expand - I just didn’t know how. Then my uncle called and here we are,” Sean says.


In addition to the great seafood one expects,  more exotic offerings are also available - try the shrimp tacos topped with pineapple coleslaw

In addition to the great seafood one expects, more exotic offerings are also available - try the shrimp tacos topped with pineapple coleslaw


“We love our customers in Portsmouth and we’ll keep that location thriving. The fact that we can’t expand there doesn’t mean we love it any less,” he remarks. His sisters, Megan and Gloria, will be running the Portsmouth location and he’s confident it’s the right fit. “They can handle it. They have as much experience as I do and the customers know them already.”

Since customers are driving to Portsmouth from Isle of Wight and Suffolk to eat at Dock of the Bay, Sean sees the second location as a natural progression. “We want to give this wonderful community what they deserve; a restaurant that is for family and not a budget-buster,” he emphasizes. Sean and Yolanda have a large blended family with five children, ranging in ages from toddlers to teens. Caring for people and their communities is their passion.

“I love having my family around me,” Sean continues. “The back room of this place will be for them. They will have a place to spend time when they are not at school so we can be close. My children will be here a lot. It won’t just be me and my wife. We are all in this together.” Sean believes spending as much time as he can with his family and showing his kids the importance of serving a community. That’s what has helped shape them into what he calls amazing children.

“All of them are great students and enjoy sports and activities, but they also see the importance of hard work. My 10-year-old wants to help with the dishes at the restaurant. He’s eager to pitch in. It makes me proud that they have the desire to work,” he smiles.

Getting the building back into the family was important to Sean, but fulfilling his desire to serve the immediate community is what’s most exciting. “This community is hard-working but laid back. It needs a place like this. It’s a different style here, a style that we like; taking care of family.”

Since the building has already seen major renovations, the look and decor won’t change too much. Sean feels fortunate to be able to walk in and open quickly, without a long list of renovations. He is keeping the bar, but adds, “We want to be a family restaurant. We don’t want to be a bar. If I am dining here with my family, I don’t want them to hear bar conversations.” Currently, the bar area of the restaurant takes up a significant portion of the floor plan. Sean plans to shrink it a bit to stay true to his promise of family dining.

Dock of the Bay II will open the first part of February. Business is already starting strong with three large parties booked and more inquiring about the opportunity. In the future, Sean hopes to create a fun outdoor area with a fire pit. “The possibilities are endless here. There is plenty of room to do what we want to. It’s an exciting time!”

Dock of the Bay II at 13162 Carrollton Boulevard

Dock of the Bay II at 13162 Carrollton Boulevard


Dock of the Bay Seafood Restaurant

103 Constitution Ave.
Portsmouth, VA 23704

757-337-8604
13162 Carrollton Boulevard
Carrollton, VA 23314
757-279-2083


http://dockofthebay-hub.com