BLUEFIELD, Va (WVVA) - Opening a restaurant now or even pre-pandemic is risky. Some never make it to see their one, five, or even 10 -year-anniversaries. However, one local restaurant is beating the odds.
The Villa, an Italian restaurant in Bluefield, Virginia, is celebrating its 20-year-anniversary. It wasn't all smooth sailing. The restaurant was shut down for two and half months during the COVID-19 pandemic.
However, this story is really about a young man's dream. Allen Hatfield turned the site from an empty building into a bustling Italian restaurant with longevity to go with the linguine.
"I like to think it's one of a kind just because it was built from scratch, literally blood, sweat and tears," said Allen Hatfield.
The year was 2000, and Allen Hatfield was just 20 years old. He was young and full of ambition.
"I wanted to work for myself. I enjoyed the restaurant business, the camaraderie, the fast pace," said Hatfield.
Hatfield was working at a restaurant in North Carolina, but he was ready to move back back to Virginia and open a restaurant of his own, and that's how a young man's dream eventually turned into 'The Villa,' which is located in the Walmart Plaza in Bluefield, Virginia.
When you step inside you'll see lights, greenery, scenes from Italy on the walls, and Allen Hatfield cooking in the kitchen
"Our recipes, everything we make is from scratch. so it might take us a little longer sometimes to get it out, but hopefully it's worth it in the long run," said Allen Hatfield.
"He's done 20 years of it. I'm just amazed at seeing new people come in that I've never seen before coming in, and then there's the regulars. Thank goodness for them," said Russ Hatfield, Allen's dad.
Regulars include Lani Crane and her son Landon.
"We always enjoy the atmosphere, and the service is great. The prices are reasonable. We always enjoy the foods," said Lani Crane.
"It's always been good, good service. people are nice," said Landon Crane.
As for Allen Hatfield, he owes his success to his loyal customers and also his manager, Missy Wyatt, who's worked by his side for 17 years.
"The biggest part of why we're here and my right hand is Missy. Without her, Icouldn't do it. She's awesome, and the rest of the staff, same way," said Allen Hatfield.
"He depends on me like I depend on him. If it wasn't for him I wouldn't be here. He's run (the restaurant), kept it open, kept it going, and I pushed to make sure it stays that way," said Allen Hatfield.
Maybe the restaurant will stay open another two decades and beyond, but right now, Allen Hatfield says he's just thankful to be living his dream, moment by moment.
"Right now, it's day by day. It's month by month. Another 20 (years), that would be great, but in these times right now, we're just pushing forward," said Allen Hatfield.
Hatfield and Wyatt tell say that The Villa is more like a family that a workplace.
About four servers, four hosts and hostesses, six cooks one bartender and Wyatt and Hatfield all work here, serving their customers five days a week. They are closed Sundays and Mondays. If you want to eat there Saturday, they open at 3 p.m.