PUNGO — When Karen and Joe Johnson decided to open a restaurant in Pungo Village, they wanted to adopt a rustic theme to honor the agricultural community.
Now, The Bee and The Biscuit, which opened in 2016, has been named the best restaurant in Virginia by Reviews.org, based upon Yelp reviews by consumers.
The restaurant received an average 4.5 stars based on 504 Yelp reviews, and reviewers commented on the restaurant’s ambience, its location and the traditional southern breakfast and brunch entrees.
Reviews.org said its methodology used Yelp data for each state’s most populous city, then picked a winner from three well-reviewed restaurants.
Opening a restaurant was a new venture for the couple, who moved here from Maui in 2008. They had lived most of their lives in Thousand Oaks, Calif., and Karen Johnson is a retired marriage and family counsellor, while Joe Johnson retired from Wells Fargo Bank.
The couple wanted to be closer to their daughters, both of whom were living here, after their son, Joey, died soon after he’d completed a year-long road trip around North America. Then, they decided that they wanted to open the restaurant business.“My husband had the idea,” Karen Johnson said. “He thought that it would be something to do besides mourning.”
The restaurant, which is open from 7 a.m. to 2 p.m., Tuesday through Sunday, includes breakfast and brunch items that range from stuffed French toast or tostadas to traditional southern eggs, meat, pancakes and biscuits.
“We noticed that almost every restaurant in Virginia Beach has a beach theme,” Karen Johnson said. “So we wanted to recognize the farmers, and we decided that we also wanted to recognize bees because they fly around and pollinate and, like farmers, feed people.”
The menu, Karen Johnson said, was largely her idea, but she credits the staff members with the recipes. She didn’t even know how to make a biscuit when she first moved here from California, she said, but she chose the restaurant’s name because she thought that “biscuit” seemed to flow naturally after “bee.”
The staff members developed the recipes, and they frequently develop new ones. Some popular items include avocado toast and the “Big Farm Truck,” a breakfast that offers eggs, pancakes, meat and grits or potatoes.
“That’s for the really big eaters,” Johnson said.
The restaurant’s menu includes some locally sourced foods, including fruits from local farmers. And the restaurant truly is a family effort.
Daughter Jaime Borland serves as manager, while her sister, Jo-Anne Evangelista, still manages their social media marketing and other administrative work although she recently moved to Maui. Three grandchildren also work there, and Joey Johnson’s Volkswagen Westfalia van is parked in the restaurant’s yard, and customers are invited to take selfies with the vehicleThe Bee and The Biscuit is located in a 100-year-old cottage that was built from a Sears mail-ordered kit, and many customers enjoy beverages in the shady yard while waiting to be served. Some may remeber it as the former home of the Pungo Grill.
Popular beverages include the mimosas and Bloody Marys, as well as coffee drinks.
“Customers like the Cinnamon Toast Crunch Latte,” barista Hannah Via said. This beverage, an expresso drink inspired by the breakfast cereal, is a particular favorite with millennials, who grew up with that cereal.
“They also like our Lucky Charms drink,” added Via, who is also working in the restaurant’s small, outdoor gift shop, which sells t-shirts, local honey and other memorabilia.
The gift shop is a new venture for the restaurant, which also hosts weddings and other special events.
“I want to thank our local community,” said Karen Johnson. “I feel like they have been kind to us. We’ve had a lot of support from Pungo.”
The Bee & The Biscuit is at 1785 Princess Anne Road. Learn more online at beebiscuit.com, follow it on Facebook via @beebiscuit or call (757) 800-5959.
© 2019 Pungo Publishing Co., LLC