'Queen Anne was for everyone'

amayfield@vagazette.com

The Williamsburg area's dreams of summer milkshakes were spoiled when Queen Anne Dari-Snak closed Thursday after a deal to keep the restaurant open fell through.

The storied burger joint was scheduled to close due to a necessary, costly upgrade to the building's fire suppression system. Restaurant owners Kelvin and Monica Taylor believed that property owner David Hertzler should cover the bill, while Hertzler argued that fixing the equipment was their responsibility.

It seemed as if a last-minute miracle was in the works when the Taylors and Hertzler struck a deal during Thursday's lunch rush. Hertzler offered to buy Queen Anne and let the Taylors continue running the restaurant for the month of July, rent free. Hertzler was going to take over the business in August.

But the deal was dead by Friday morning when the Taylors woke up and had a change of heart. They decided it was in their best interest to take more time to find either a better offer for the Queen Anne name or a new location.

"(Kelvin Taylor) told me twice yesterday that we had a deal," Hertzler said. "I think it was sellers-remorse."

Queen Anne's small parking lot was packed well into Thursday evening with customers sticking around until about 11 p.m. to chat with the Taylors about the restaurant's history.

The shake shack has been serving up burgers and fries on the east side of Williamsburg for more than 60 years. Ownership has changed, but the restaurant hasn't, said long-time patron Greg Hodge, 61.

"This place is like a snapshot in time," Greg Hodge said. "All the things I remember from my childhood are gone. Queen Anne is the constant."

Greg Hodge and his brother Dean, 59, grew up a stone's throw from Queen Anne when the Williamsburg area was segregated. The brothers said racial and economic segregation ended in the parking lot of Queen Anne Dari-Snak.

"Queen Anne was for everyone," Greg Hodge said.

"This place is a mecca for people, whether they are black, white, rich, poor – it doesn't matter. Everyone comes here," Dean Hodge said.

Another long-time customer John Jones Jr., 44, stopped by Queen Anne on Thursday to grab one last large banana split to go. Jones, who came to Queen Anne first as a 6-year-old with his parents, continued the family tradition of delicious desserts with his three sons.

Jones said he's tried just about every banana split in the area, and none hold a candle to Queen Anne.

"It's not just what goes into the cup," Jones said. "It's the love at the very bottom."

Peter Berquist and his sister Susan Zickel have been coming to Queen Anne for 40 years to enjoy root beer floats made with chocolate ice cream. As the Williamsburg area has grown, their childhood hangouts have disappeared.

"This place got more and more special as places like New Town got more developed," Berquist said. "There are a lot of places that have gone away, but this place is one of the places that stayed constant."

The siblings munched on fries and slurped shakes with Zickel's children, Katherine, 13, Peter, 11, and Jon, 8. The kids said everyone in their family has a story about something they've done at Queen Anne.

"It holds a lot of memories," Peter said, adding that he has a picture of his parents outside of Queen Anne before they were married.

The Taylors, who have owned Queen Anne for about 18 years, are sad to see the end of an era, but hopeful about the beginning of a new story for the restaurant.

The couple doesn't know what their future holds, but they hope that much of the time spent behind Queen Anne's grills can now be devoted to family.

"I love Queen Anne. I love everything about it," Kelvin Taylor said. "But we don't get enough time with family. There's so much of life that we miss out on, and once it's gone, it's gone."

Hertzler said he has several offers on the table for restaurants that want to move into the building.

"I think eventually someone will be back in there selling ice cream again," Hertzler said.

Mayfield can be reached by phone at 757-298-5828.

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