The Journey of a Restaurateur: Internship to Ownership

Journey of a Restaurateur: Internship to Ownership

The Genesis of a Restaurateur

Reed Adelson’s journey began in the bustling restaurant scene of New York City, influenced largely by his father, a food enthusiast. Though Reed’s initial interest in restaurants was lukewarm, a college job at Bern’s Steakhouse in Tampa, Florida, ignited his passion for the hospitality industry. Working in the wine cellar, Reed gained valuable knowledge about wines, fueling his desire to explore further into the world of fine dining.

After college, Reed’s dedication led him to work at Charlie Trotter’s in Chicago, a place known for its rigorous and high standards. This experience taught him vital lessons about the demands and rewards of the culinary world. From there, Reed’s career path took him to various elite establishments, including Restaurant Charlie in Las Vegas and Jean Georges in New York.

Founding Virginia’s

The idea for Virginia’s was born from a desire to create a unique yet accessible dining experience. Inspired by the American Bistro model, Reed envisioned a place that combined the sophistication of a steakhouse with the casual vibe of a café. Finding the right location in New York City was challenging, but Reed’s perseverance paid off when he found a spot in the East Village that perfectly suited his vision.

Virginia’s New Location

Virginia’s operated successfully until 2021 when it had to close due to lease issues. However, Reed relocated and reopened Virginia’s in March 2021 on 3rd Street, continuing the legacy of high-quality food and exceptional service. The new location retains the charm and essence of the original Virginia’s while incorporating Reed’s evolving vision for the restaurant.

Menu and Culinary Inspiration

Reed isn’t a chef by training, but his extensive experience in the hospitality industry has given him a keen sense of what works. The menu at Virginia’s features a mix of long-standing favorites and seasonal dishes, with a notable emphasis on their famous burger. Reed collaborates closely with his chef, Jake, to ensure the menu remains innovative and exciting.

The restaurant’s walls are adorned with menus from renowned establishments, serving as both decoration and inspiration. This eclectic mix not only reflects Reed’s journey but also provides him with continuous culinary ideas.

Building a Team and Culture

Reed emphasizes the importance of fostering a collaborative and respectful culture between the front and back of the house. The open kitchen layout at Virginia’s facilitates better communication and teamwork. Reed’s experience in fine dining, where the environment was more militant, has shaped his belief in creating a positive and supportive work culture.

Marketing and Community Engagement

Virginia’s marketing strategy is a blend of traditional methods and modern techniques. They leverage social media, email marketing, and public relations to keep their brand top-of-mind for customers. Special events like beer dinners and pop-ups are also part of their strategy to attract and engage diners.

Overcoming Challenges

Running a restaurant in New York City comes with its share of challenges, from high operational costs to dealing with supply chain issues. Reed has adapted by keeping a close eye on costs and periodically adjusting the menu to maintain profitability without compromising quality.

Looking Ahead

Reed’s entrepreneurial spirit doesn’t stop with Virginia’s. He has recently ventured into the cocktail bar scene with the opening of Romeo’s around the corner. Looking ahead, Reed hopes to expand Virginia’s to the West Village and explore opportunities outside New York City.


Reed Adelson’s story is a testament to what passion, perseverance, and a keen understanding of the industry can achieve. Virginia’s continues to thrive by delivering exceptional dining experiences, and Reed’s journey serves as an inspiration for budding restaurateurs.

Stay tuned for more engaging stories and insights from the Restaurant Rockstars Podcast. Whether you’re a seasoned operator or a hospitality novice, Reed’s path offers valuable lessons for all.

Catch the full episode on the Restaurant Rockstars Podcast for more insights on Reed Adelson’s remarkable journey.

The Journey of a Restaurateur: Internship to Ownership
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