We build our own restaurants.
We help others create their own.
Just about any guy who grew up in a blue collar town like Buffalo, NY, wants to open a bar when he is old enough. Few have an opportunity to realize this dream. Fewer still get to keep their house in the process.
Eric’s restaurant story began after 13 years of successfully raising funds. He helped house the homeless and help disadvantaged children in Indianapolis and spent many years helping local students afford college through the Access program in Hampton Roads and making sure uninsured children received care at CHKD.
Eric joined his business partner and restaurant veteran Karl Dornemann in 2002 to open Bardo Edibles + Elixirs. Since 2008, the team has opened three more successful restaurants: Still - Worldly Eclectic Tapas in Olde Towne Portsmouth, The Public House in Norfolk and Gosport Tavern in Olde Towne Portsmouth.
In addition to overseeing daily operations, Eric focuses on long-term strategic planning, new ventures, corporate governance and vendor relationships.
From his humble beginnings serving ice cream to screaming kids, Karl has now been in the restaurant business for 29 years.
Endowed with the ability of his father, an Episcopal priest, to give sermons in front of a crowded room, Karl has been entertaining patrons for a very long time.
Karl moved to Hampton Roads to open the Tap House in Ghent and later went on, with help from Chef Peter Pittman, to open Crackers in 1997. Both restaurants are respected Norfolk institutions where Karl’s design and concepts remain popular 16 years later.
With the addition of two partners at Crackers, Karl opened Empire in downtown Norfolk. After its second full year of operation, Karl was bought out and started a new company with Eric Stevens to open Bardo in 2002.
Since 2008, the team has collaborated and opened three more successful restaurants: Still - Worldly Eclectic Tapas in Olde Towne Portsmouth, The Public House in Norfolk and Gosport Tavern in Olde Towne Portsmouth.
Karl thinks he knows it all. And when it comes to wine, spirits and beer, he may actually be right. Many a bar customer or server has asked an innocent question about scotch or bourbon only to find themselves so deep into minutia that they finish their drink just to end the conversation.
Karl has created a number of popular drinks that patrons frequently request. He often hosts wine, whisky, whiskey and beer-tasting dinners throughout the mid-Atlantic. Karl was even asked to taste-test four different Glenmorangie scotches in order to determine which new Glenmorangie would be imported to Virginia. If you have ever had the cask proof 15- year Glenmorangie, be sure to say, "Thank you!"
In addition to daily operations, Karl focuses on the front of the house profit center and designs all bar programs and training. He also oversees the company’s wine, liquor and beer program as well as cocktail menus. Karl is also a certified craft distiller and is, along with Eric, forming a craft distillery called RD Wilhelm which will produce Virginia made Bourbon and Rye.
Karl Dornemann and Eric Stevens have collaborated for more than 10 years to open several successful restaurants in Hampton Roads. Karl and Eric have conceived, built and designed restaurants for investor groups. Whether you are interested in joining a current concept in development or have your own idea, Prime Eats can turn your dream into a reality.
A neighborhood favorite in Norfolk, VA for more than 10 years, this award-winning restaurant is renowned for its Pacific Rim-inspired tapas and cocktail menu, which includes classic and contemporary spirits. Its quarterly specialty dinners and creative cocktails bring out the zen in everyone.
Tucked away amid the historic streets of Olde Towne Portsmouth, Still Worldly Eclectic Tapas specializes in locally sourced products, top whisky, cocktails and mixed drinks. With its side entrance and basement-level seating, it's easy to imagine you're sitting in a 1920’s speakeasy, ordering hooch. Named a Top 10 restaurant in Hampton Roads, its innovative menu is 98 percent gluten free.
Open since 2011, The Public House is a gastropub in Ghent, a historic neighborhood in Norfolk, VA. From its extensive bourbon and craft beer selections, to the fresh ingredients used in all its tavern-style entrees, The Public House is a popular destination for those who enjoy shooting pool and drinking good whisky.
A neighborhood favorite for years, Karl and Eric helped reopen this quaint and comfortable spot in January 2012. Gosport Tavern has quickly became Olde Towne Portsmouth's newest place to dine, drink and decompress. Inventive cocktails pair with the tavern's specialty entrees, reminding patrons why it's good to live in the South. Gosport's popular brunch offerings are served both Saturdays and Sundays.
We are excited to announce the opening of our newest restaurant, Supper, to Ghent in 2014. Stay tuned for updates.