Poquoson Restaurant 185 offers upscale comfort food with a twist

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Restaurant 185 in Poquoson was opened by longtime friends and restaurant partners, Lenora Garland and John Chesney. (WYDaily / Courtesy of Lenora Garland)

POQUOSON – Restaurant 185 in Poquoson, this is the kind of place where everyone knows your name.

“We’re this little restaurant where when you walk in the door I look up and say, ‘Hey Reggie, what’s going on? Or ‘Hey, Jeremy!’ Said owner Lenora Garland. “When they come in, we know their names.”

Located at 185 Little Florida Road (hence the name) the breakfast and lunch restaurant hails from Garland and his longtime catering partner John Chesney.

The two met at Notre-Dame du Mont-Carmel Catholic Church, where Chesney ran the kitchen and later taught Garland how to serve.

Together, the two continued to serve upscale comfort food throughout the Hampton Roads area for approximately 16 years.

Garland and Chesney found a small building that was the former location of Scorpios Deli, a restaurant in Poquoson, and used it as a commissary kitchen.

“Then we said we need to make more money – open a restaurant,” Garland recalled.

Restaurant 185 opened on February 26, 2020 and was a hit among the locals of Poquoson.

“Our food is really good,” Garland said. “Everything is homemade. “

Garland describes the restaurant as having a “cozy and relaxed vibe” with a coastal theme to fit in with Poquoson.

The interior of Restaurant 185 has been designed to create a coastal and comfortable ambience. (WYDaily / Courtesy of Lenora Garland)

Garland, a resident of Poquoson, said the whole town was a client for her, hosting many venues and events, such as the Poquoson Seafood Festival.

“This little building seemed perfect to me to have this safe and cute place that was in the city where I lived,” she said.

She said much of the restaurant’s support has come from the community.

Friends donated old wooden furniture to the restaurant, and local artists provided artwork for the restaurant’s interior.

“People tell me they feel at home in their kitchen,” she says. “It’s eclectic.

For three weeks the restaurant was kept busy.

Then COVID-19 hit, and like many restaurants, 185 turned to take out orders.

In May 2020, the restaurant reopened with outdoor seating with umbrellas and a fountain.

“Our outdoor seating just became the cutest little place,” Garland said. “It looks like a small French cafe on the side of the building.”

For the past year and a half, Garland and Chesney have been making breakfast and lunch foods and serving large portions with the goal of leaving customers with full stomachs and leftovers to take home.

“We receive a lot of compliments on our hospitality, our warm and comfortable atmosphere and our delicious generous portions,” she said.

One of the staple items on their menu is their French-style three-egg omelets, which are turned over to be large and chewy.

“You’re never going to get a runny omelet from us,” Garland said.

Their Smoked brisket omelets and sweet potato cookies are some of customer favorites.

Their BLT Avocado Fried Chicken is a favorite among customers. (WYDaily / Courtesy of Jasmine Elizabeth Goretskie)

When the sweet potato cookies come out of the oven, the restaurant smells like Christmas because of the cinnamon, ”Garland said.

Their brisket is another big favorite, which they smoke in restaurants for hours, usually around 70 pounds at a time.

This summer’s special is their Jerk Chicken Sandwich, a grilled chicken breast with house jerk seasoning, hot pepper jack cheese, house pineapple mango salsa with jalapenos and Aioli Sriracha.

“When you get to 185, you’ll need a lot of towels,” Garland said. “It’s big messy food. But people always say it doesn’t matter because it’s so good.

Restaurant 185 is open from Tuesday to Sunday from 7 a.m. to 2 p.m.

Garland recommends those who come on the weekends to make reservations as it is very busy, which she loves.

“I was overwhelmed and so happy with the wonderful customers and staff we have,” she said. “There are times when we are understaffed or we have a lot of staff, but they have all been great and hardworking people. And our customers have supported us through COVID in the kindest and most generous way. “

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