Tipsy Beans Cafe to open in High Street later this year

Staff writer

The owners of Tipsy Beans Cafe want to shake things up in Williamsburg.

Co-owners Andre McLaughlin, Sean Walker and Alex Frazier said they aim to offer new experiences and an eclectic menu when the cafe and restaurant opens later this year. Walker said he aims to make the cafe “the ultimate place to be” for the area’s younger residents by offering brunch, live entertainment and more.

“Based on the economy and how housing is being developed, they’re building for younger families, so (there are) these townhomes and these communities where there are going to be younger people moving here, but there’s nothing for us to do as far as entertainment,” he said.

While they didn’t want to reveal too much about their plans for the menu, the co-owners said Tipsy Beans will function as a coffeehouse during the day, but also offer wine, spirits and more.

“Brunch is a big thing, and we want to play into that. That’s the energy that we want to bring: a new energy, a fresh feel, we just want to bring Williamsburg up to date to the rest of the world,” Walker said. “Definitely a lot of great drink specials, a lot of picture-worthy items, a lot of good quality and great-tasting food with a different look and a different feel.”

McLaughlin and Walker also own Frame Fitness gym on Lightfoot Road, and said they partnered with Frazier after the three began developing the idea for the coffeehouse and restaurant. Tipsy Beans is expected to seat about 50 to 60 people, Frazier said.

Last March, the city’s Economic Development Authority unanimously approved a no-net-loss tax incentive for Tipsy Beans Cafe, which will return half of the taxes that the cafe pays during its first year in business or up to $10,000, whichever comes first.

In a previous interview, City Economic Development Director Michele Mixner DeWitt said the taxes involved in the agreement are the 1% local portion of the sales tax and the 5% meals tax.

The storefront, located at 1430 High St., Suite 709B, has been empty since Quirks of Art moved from High Street to its new Prince George Street location in April 2017, according to a past Virginia Gazette report.

“I think what we’re bringing is going to be a big surprise for Williamsburg,” Frazier said.

McLaughlin said they expect the cafe and restaurant to open this spring or early this summer.

Dr. Vinod Agarwal, deputy director of Old Dominion University’s Dragas Center for Economic Analysis and Policy, reviewed the economic health of Hampton Roads and what to look out for in the future at the Virginia Peninsula Chamber’s midyear economic forecast breakfast Tuesday.

“The statewide economic forecasts that come from the center have become the gauge by which many of us predict and plan our business,” said Phil Richards with Chartway Federal Credit Union, who introduced Agarwal and his colleague, Dr. Robert McNab.

Agarwal focused on economic growth in Hampton Roads and how it breaks out into sectors, including home sales and hotel revenue in the area.

Focusing on home sales, he said inventories, days on market and estimated supply have decreased since 2011 across Hampton Roads, but the number of existing homes sold steadily has increased over time.

Also, the median price of homes has not increased significantly, and mortgage rates continue to be at historically low levels.

A total of 27,729 homes were sold in 2018 across Hampton Roads, according to data in his report collected from the Real Estate Information Network and the Old Dominion University Economic Forecasting Project. In Williamsburg, he said 3,066 homes were sold last year, according to the report.

Figures collected from REIN may not represent all new construction activity, he said.

At least 2,655 of those sales were existing homes, while 411 were sales of newly built homes. Williamsburg was one of three Hampton Roads locales, along with Chesapeake and Suffolk, with the highest percentage of new home construction, ranking higher than other cities including Newport News, Hampton and Virginia Beach, he said.

Williamsburg also outpaced Hampton and Newport News when comparing existing home sales from 2002 to 2018, according to the data presented by Agarwal. At $291,500, median sales prices of existing homes in Williamsburg last year also were above medians in Hampton and Newport News.

Arriaza can be reached at 757-790-9313 or on Twitter @rodrigoarriaza0.

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