WILLIAMSBURG — One new restaurant in downtown Williamsburg has seen a successful opening and is already planning with other restaurants and city officials on how to expand.
In the midst of a global pandemic, with 30 percent capacity, Josh Howard expanded his thriving Butcher’s Pub in downtown Pineville to Williamsburg.
Howard said when he started this he knew he wanted a pub, not necessarily a bar or restaurant although the pub does in fact serve serve up British and Irish pub food.
“To me a pub is just a socially gathering place,” said Howard. “It doesn’t have to have alcohol, it typically does, but it’s a place that people go and hang out.”
Howard is a person for the region, with law offices in Whitesburg, Pineville and now Williamsburg. He thinks about tourism, which is one of his main focuses—how to get people from outside the area to spend money here.
Williamsburg Mayor Roddy Harrison and Howard along with his neighbors the owners of The Brick Oven have had discussions about opening up Fourth Street to be able to expand business and keep patrons safe during this unusual time.
“What we want to see is livelihood come back downtown,” said Howard. “The biggest opportunity zone, I think, is next to the pub—Fourth Street.”
In essence Howard is going for Louisville’s Fourth Street Live feel, outdoor local live music, dining and entertaining inside roped off streets.
The hold up right now is the seating and storage for the seating, said both Howard and Harrison.
Howard said the idea is to have table service outside. His goal is to have all this happening by end of summer beginning of fall.
Although Howard hadn’t spent a lot of time in Williamsburg, since getting the restaurant ready to open he’s spent more time in the city and said it’s exactly what he’s looking for— a small town, with a courthouse square, ready to grow.
“I like investing in small towns,” said Howard. “I don’t want to go to Lexington, I don’t want to go to Richmond, I don't want to go to Knoxville. People are moving away from the big box store and the chain restaurants. They’re looking for that little hole in the wall.
Howard explained more and more people are looking for little niche restaurants and stores.
“That’s what my wife and I or my family and I do when we go places,” added Howard. “We look for something that we can’t do at home.”
Opening a restaurant in the middle of a global pandemic had been stressful for Howard, but he admits it’s also worked out well for him. The Butcher's Pub in Williamsburg was originally scheduled to open the Friday before St. Patricks Day.
Having rushed to try and meet deadlines the shutdown allowed the business to reset and fine tune things. Howard said now they are up and running and everything is great. People were lined up at the door on opening day and the restaurant has seen a steady flow since.
While they are still trying to establish a full time kitchen staff they are currently open for dinner only. The restaurant can seat 75 comfortably including with seats at the bar and tall privacy booths. For now hours are Monday and Tuesday 5 p.m. to 9 p.m. Wednesday and Thursday 5 p.m. to 11 p.m. and Friday and Saturday 5 p.m. to midnight. Within a month Howard plans to have the full menu up and running as well as full time hours which will include doors opening at 11a.m.
Howard has also purchased the former Dreaming Creek building in London and plans to put a third Butcher’s Pub Location there in the future.