Prince Edward supervisors approve Sandy River restaurant request

Published 12:47 am Thursday, July 13, 2023

It didn’t take long. In fact, the overall vote took all of three minutes. During their Tuesday, July 11 meeting, Prince Edward County supervisors unanimously voted to approve Mark Smith’s request. Smith, the owner of Sandy River Distillery, had been requesting a permit to open a restaurant on his property, located at 147 Monroe Road in Rice. 

Smith was also asking for authorization to allow up to five food trucks at the facility at any given time during operating hours. Since the property is zoned agricultural, a restaurant or brew pub needs a special use permit.  

As for food trucks, Smith said in the previous hearing on the issue that he didn’t anticipate having anywhere close to five food trucks at one time. Usually, he expects between one or two during a special event. But he’d rather have permission and not need it than the reverse.

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And in fact, the Sandy River restaurant won’t be the first thing going up. In last month’s planning commission meeting, Smith said he plans to start by bringing in the food trucks. He’s been in contact with a wood-fired pizza operation Smith said was one of the best he’s had in America. 

Focusing on a Sandy River restaurant

Then, once the food trucks take root and customers start coming, he’ll focus on the restaurant. The first version would seat 30 people, be farm to table and operate seasonally. He’s requesting hours of noon to 9 p.m. for the restaurant, with the option of being open seven days a week. Even though that part of the plan is at best months away, Smith told the board he’d rather have the approval now.

Speaking in the June planning commission meeting, Smith said making an adjustment like this, bringing in food, was needed to help his business grow. 

“Traffic has dropped significantly after COVID-19,” Smith said. “They’re going to hotels again, they’re going overseas. We planned this in advance, because we knew we needed something to make it a sustainable business.”