News in 5: Riverwalk Restaurant, Brass Cannon Brewing to close in coming months

Plus: A local doctor is charged after the death of a toddler, more details have emerged following last week's home invasion in Williamsburg and new roundtrip flights are coming to Newport News.

Good morning!

The heat and humidity will remain in full swing all week, according to News 3 Meteorologist Myles Henderson. Highs will be in the 90s but will feel like triple digits, straight through Sunday.

Myles Henderson
Aug 03, 2022 ·

If you’re looking for something to do this week, I’ve linked to my community calendar of events again at the bottom of this newsletter. The article has been updated to correct that tonight’s Summer Breeze concert in Williamsburg will feature a performance by the Grateful Dawgs, a seven-piece Grateful Dead tribute band. The USAF Heritage of America Band Full Spectrum concert will be held next Wednesday, August 10.

Have questions, comments or suggestions? Please reach out any time by hitting “reply” to this email.

Now to the news.

-Christin

1. Two popular Historic Triangle establishments – Brass Cannon Brewing and Riverwalk Restaurant – will soon close their doors. Meanwhile, Water Street Grille is set to expand.

  • Brass Cannon Brewing, a craft beer microbrewery and taproom located on Mooretown Road in Williamsburg, announced it will be permanently closing this year. In a July 29 Facebook post, the brewery thanked customers for supporting its “dream of making and serving great beer a reality” but said Brass Cannon will no longer be able to survive amid current economic conditions.

“We put up a fight for more than 10 years. We invested in new brew gear and built a new facility. We made great, uncompromising beer. We survived the COVID,” the brewery’s management and staff said in a statement. “But we find ourselves now in an over-saturated market rushing to the bottom and in an inflationary economy with the resultant rising interest rates and we are not willing to reduce quality, cut cost corners or raise prices.”

  • Many of the brewery’s social media followers expressed shock and disappointment over the news, with one commenter saying the announcement “makes my heart hurt for the staff and patrons that became our friends/family.”
  • The brewery will begin winding down its operations this month and is planning to fully close by October 1. Those who wish to continue supporting Brass Cannon are asked to check the website for updated hours before stopping by. The taproom is expected to operate on a reduced schedule until its last operational day.
  • Meanwhile, Riverwalk Restaurant, a staple on the waterfront in Yorktown, will also be closing in the coming months, according to the Peninsula Chronicle.
  • The owner of the restaurant, Mario Buffa – who also owns the adjacent Water Street Grille – said that he plans to shut down operations at Riverwalk and will instead expand the more casual Water Street Grille.
    • Buffa told the Chronicle his business faced incredible challenges from the Covid-19 pandemic and called the ordeal “one of the worst experiences” of his life. While he was able to avoid closing the restaurant down in 2020 and 2021, he’s now made the decision to say goodbye to Riverwalk, citing dwindling demand for fine dining in the area.

“It became obvious to me that people aren’t really interested in coming down here for fine dining,” Buffa said.

  • When both spaces are combined, Water Street will comprise about 12,000 square feet. While plans are still being finalized, Buffa said supply chain issues will partially determine his timeline for moving forward. He expects to close Water Street in October for about seven months to work on the remodel.
    • Water Street currently employs a staff of 90, according to Buffa, but the restaurant had 250 employees during peak times prior to the pandemic. The riverfront dining establishment offers a full bar and American fare, including steak, seafood, burgers, sandwiches and salads.

Riverwalk Restaurant, a fine-dining fixture along the Yorktown riverfront, is set to close in the coming months. The owner plans to expand the adjacent Water Street Grille, which offers a more casual atmosphere. (Photo by Christin Nielsen/The Triangle).

2. A local doctor is among three people charged after the death of a toddler in Yorktown.

  • A family physician, Dr. Timothy Raines, was charged with one felony count of neglect on Thursday following the death of a two-year-old girl, according to a news release by the York-Poquoson Sheriff’s Office.
    • Raines, 59, is the third person to be arrested in connection with the girl’s death. He was the grandfather of the child and resided at the home where the death occurred. As previously reported, the toddler’s parents, Anna Raines, 29, and Jesse Gunn, 37, were arrested in early July, and each was charged with one felony count of neglect.
  • Police reports stated that when officers arrived at the home in the 100 block of Aberfeldy Way on July 7, the child was lying on the floor and not breathing. Heroin was discovered in a diaper bag located near the toddler’s crib, and illegal narcotics and syringes were found in places that would have been accessible to the child. Additionally, Anna Raines admitted to police that she had overdosed in the days leading up to the child’s death. Results of the child’s autopsy are still pending.
  • Newly released court documents detailed by The Daily Press reveal that Timothy Raines was charged because he was a primary caregiver of the child and did not intervene to stop the neglect, even though he was aware of the situation. According to the criminal complaint, the child was born with Neonatal Abstinence Syndrome (NAS), and a case was opened with Child Protective Services at the time of her birth. NAS occurs when a baby experiences withdrawals after being exposed to drugs – usually opioids – taken by the mother during pregnancy. The syndrome can cause long-term health and developmental complications.
    • “Mr. Raines had firsthand knowledge of the neglect going on under his roof and characterized himself as one of the primary caretakers for [the child],” the criminal complaint stated.
    • Dr. Raines has been a practicing physician for more than 30 years and is currently affiliated with Victoria Family Practice in Hampton. Though he has been charged in the case of the child’s death, he will be able to continue seeing patients unless and until he is convicted, according to the Code of Virginia Medicine. Raines was released on his own recognizance. Additional charges may be forthcoming depending on the autopsy results, police say.
  • Some context: While there are still many unknowns in this case, the tragic situation has renewed discussions about the continually-worsening opioid epidemic and its impacts on families. Emergency room visits related to opioid abuse jumped by 33% in Virginia between 2019 and 2020 alone, according to VDH, and that number continued to tick up in 2021. Additionally, CDC data shows the rate of Neonatal Abstinence Syndrome (NAS) – a condition caused by exposure to narcotics while in the womb – spiked by 130% between 2010-2017 across the U.S.

3. Additional details have been released in a Williamsburg home invasion case that left one man dead.

  • New information has emerged following the shooting death of a man on Corvette Drive in Williamsburg last week. According to the York-Poquoson Sheriff’s Office – which responded to the scene shortly after 5:00 pm – the man who was killed has been identified as 20-year-old Antonio Beltran Flores Perez. The death marks the first homicide in York County this year.
  • Police say Perez was killed by the homeowner during an attempted burglary and home invasion. The suspect reportedly jumped over a gate at the home while the homeowner and his family were sitting on their deck. The family then retreated inside the home and locked the door, but Perez attempted to kick their door down. The homeowner then shot the man.
  • No charges have been filed by the sheriff’s office in connection to the shooting. The York County commonwealth’s attorney will investigate the incident to determine if the shooting was a justified homicide.
    • A neighbor, Thomas Overby, told The Virginia Gazette the neighborhood is generally safe, and he felt the homeowner’s actions were justified. “I’m glad he had a gun, and I’m glad he did what he did,” Overby said. “You know, he protected his family and that’s what guns are for, to protect you if you feel defenseless.”

4. Avelo Airlines has arrived at Newport News-Williamsburg Airport with roundtrip routes to Florida.

  • Avelo Airlines announced it will begin serving the Peninsula this fall with exclusive nonstop service to Florida.
    • The airline will offer routes from Newport News-Williamsburg Airport (PHF) to Orlando (MCO) starting October 19 and Fort Lauderdale Hollywood International Airport (FLL) starting October 20.
  • Introductory fares will start at $29 at www.aveloair.com. The airline will also give away 100 tickets in its Fly PHF sweepstakes. A total of 50 winners will be given a pair of roundtrip tickets to fly on any Avelo trip.

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5. Seaview Lofts Apartments in Newport News failed inspection once again, leaving residents unable to return to their homes.

  • While repairs have been in the works for several weeks at the Seaview Lofts apartment complex in Newport News, the building’s elevators have failed inspection yet again. Hundreds of residents were forced out a month ago after the high-rise building was condemned for repeated code violations.
  • The fifteen-story building still has no functioning elevators, and its boiler remains broken. Court documents show the owner of the building has a long history of violations and has routinely failed to follow through on promises to make necessary repairs.
  • The judge in the case set a new hearing date for this Friday, August 5 but emphasized that he wants the owner to be present in the courtroom during the proceedings. So far, only his attorneys have shown up in court, 13NewsNow reports.
  • A Newport News city official also told WAVY News the state of the building was “the worst” he’d seen in his career and he was not confident the residents the condemnation order would be lifted anytime soon.
    • “The unfortunate thing is that the residents, being the average working person, they’re usually the people that get caught in the middle and suffer the most,” said Newport News Director of Code Compliance Harold Roach.

6. James City County is now accepting applications for its Good Neighbor Grant.

  • James City County is taking applications from community groups and neighborhood associations interested in carrying out environmentally-friendly beautification projects. The purpose of the program is to enhance the sense of community and sustainability of local neighborhoods.
  • Some examples of previous winning projects include restoration of a stormwater sediment basin, planting native and pollinator-friendly plants and installing a free-standing library. More information and project ideas are available here.
  • Matching grant awards up to $500 are available. The deadline for submissions is September 15, and grant award amounts will be based on the number of applications selected. Residents who wish to be considered should complete the Good Neighbor Grant Application.

Lowest Gas Prices Today

All prices are per Gas Buddy. To check the latest prices based on zip code, click here.

Local Covid-19 Update

New cases:VDH reports that an additional 21,350 people in Virginia tested positive for Covid-19 last week. Cases are up slightly from the 21,149 reported during the previous week. Localities with the biggest increases in new cases (over 100) on the Peninsula last week include Newport News (+399), Hampton (+337) James City County (+187) and York County (+101), according to WTVR News 6.

Hospitalizations and deaths: An additional 264 people were hospitalized with Covid-19 in Virginia last week (up from 249 the week before), according to VDH data. 51 Covid-19-related deaths also occurred in the state last week (down from 66 the week before).

Vaccination rate: 71.9% of Virginians are fully vaccinated (up from 71.8% last week).

In the National News

  • Pelosi Lands in Taiwan: Speaker Nancy Pelosi landed in Taiwan Tuesday, defying heated warnings by Beijing amid rising tensions in the region. In a statement issued just after the Speaker’s arrival, China’s foreign ministry said the visit severely damaged peace and stability in the Taiwan Strait, Reuters reports. While Pelosi’s meeting with leaders in Taiwan was largely symbolic, analysts say it sent a clear message that the U.S will not abandon its support for the self-governing island. Meanwhile, China says it’s planning to hold military drills within Taiwan’s sea and air territory later this week, per CNBC.
  • Al-Qaeda Head Killed: The U.S successfully launched an airstrike in Kabul on Saturday which killed Ayman al-Zawahiri, the White House announced. Al-Zawahiri was Osama Bin Laden’s successor and the head of Al-Qaeda. He played a key role in plotting 9/11 and was heavily involved in numerous other terrorist attacks against Americans, including the bombing of the USS Cole in 2000 and the bombing of U.S embassies in Kenya and Tanzania.
  • U.S Job Openings Drop: Fewer job openings were posted by American employers in June, an indicator that sky-high inflation and rising interest rates are having an impact on the job market. The number of job openings dropped from 11.3 million in May to 10.7 million in June, the Labor Department announced Tuesday. Economists, however, expect that unemployment will remain steady at 3.6% for the fifth straight month, according to ABC News.

Events This Week

Miss this week’s community calendar of events? You can find it here.

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