#4 Story

Cape Charles Wave

December 5, 2012

Say it ain’t so, Joe!

Sadly, the fabled Aqua Restaurant in Bay Creek Marina Village, managed so ably by Adam Travis, and served so deliciously by chef Shelly Cusmina, after Saturday, December 22, will be no more.

The final decision to throw in the towel at Aqua was made only this morning.

The Cape Charles Wave confirmed the news through multiple, independent, high-level sources.

Aqua employees have been told only that the restaurant is closing for the season.

The Aqua website has been changed to read: “AQUA will close for the winter season after the close of business on December 22.”

What the website fails to mention is that, along with the Shops at Bay Creek, the closure is permanent.


The Aqua shutdown comes almost exactly two months after the adjoining Shops at Bay Creek closed down.

The only remaining business in the complex is the marina itself and the adjoining Complete Angler tackle shop. Those two businesses are under separate management and the employees do not work for Bay Creek.

The Wave will publish further details of the closure as they become known.



15 Responses to “#4 Story

  1. Cody Yokem on December 5th, 2012 1:31 pm

    Mr. Southern, As an employee of Aqua, I implore you to make sure your facts are correct — from what I see here they are not. You are affecting people’s livelihoods. As someone who lives in a small town you need to realize your words are not affecting faceless people, but your very own neighbors.

    GEORGE SOUTHERN REPLIES: Cody, if I did not already have assurances from more than one source that the facts in this story are correct, the story would never have been published. I have three close neighbors who work at Aqua, and know several more. I reported this story because they, and you, deserve to know the truth. Owners often tell employees that a closure is only temporary. Walk next door and look at the notices taped to the doors of the Bay Creek Shops: they suggest that the shops will reopen next year. That is not true. I am concerned that you believe that I am affecting people. This is the classic case of shooting the messenger. People’s lives will be affected, but not by the Wave. The Cape Charles Wave is in the business of publishing news. People who don’t like the news may be inclined to blame the Wave for printing it, but that is not logical reasoning.

  2. Karen Gay on December 5th, 2012 4:58 pm

    Let me add that if I were working at Aqua, I’d want to know this information as soon as possible. Knowing ahead of time provides the employees with the knowledge that if they don’t find another job, their current job is not waiting for them in the Spring. Not good news, but I’d want to know. If this information is true, then I’m so sorry for the good Aqua employees. I have enjoyed going to this restaurant for years. The employees at least deserve the truth from their management.

  3. Sarah James on December 5th, 2012 7:40 pm

    If you are going to be writing in such definite terms of “the closure is permanent,” as opposed to “is rumored to be” or “is reportedly”; then you should be able to reveal your sources. Printing this does impact other people. Obviously, the actual happenings of any news publications have a greater impact than the actual articles. However, I am sure the staff at Aqua has had to respond to multiple inquiries about this. Inquires from people like me, who just yesterday, confirmed her wedding reception at Aqua for next fall. Yes, the actual closing of Aqua is what would impact me the most. However, publicly announced ideas and statements affect others. And you have made some very definite statements without any evidence. Either supportive facts or the addition of words such as “speculation” would have allowed this article to have been better received and would allow for a more productive resolution to any issues this closing would present.

    GEORGE SOUTHERN responds: Sarah, I deeply empathize with you, and sincerely hope that arrangements will be put in place to allow your wedding to take place next fall at AQUA. But a lot will have to happen before that can be possible. In the meantime, you are holding me to an impossible standard — higher than any publication or news agency extent. As I already emphasized in my earlier comment, this is not a rumor, it is not speculation. I also reported that the WAVE would provide further details as soon as they are available. That will be very soon. It is the responsibility of Bay Creek to provide prospective brides, such as yourself, timely and accurate information. If until now you were unaware of any problem, you might want to thank the WAVE. Please write back and share with readers the latest information you are being told about your wedding reception — not for the benefit of the WAVE, but for the benefit of others who may be in a similar situation.

  4. Rich Boehling on December 5th, 2012 8:50 pm

    It would make for an interesting story if the shops and Aqua were closed strategically in order to allow for “a managed” short sale of the property. Perhaps some investigative journalism is due on this one. We should all watch this closely.

  5. Robbin Smith on December 5th, 2012 9:42 pm

    As a former Cape Charles restaurant owner I am saddened by this news. The loss of any business is disheartening, but to lose one in such a small community as Cape Charles is doubly so. I opened The Chesapeake in Cape Charles in 2001 as Bay Creek was just starting and we both had high hopes and promises for success. As with anything worthy it was a rough start for the first few years as the town, Bay Creek, Aqua, and myself found our way. Even though the restaurants in town at the time — Rebecca’s, Garden Cafe, Harbor Grille, and The Chesapeake — were in competition with Aqua, we all were members of a small restaurant fraternity hoping Cape Charles would fulfill its, and our, potential. Seeing any member of this fraternity fail hurts, as I know first-hand how closing affects not only the owner’s dreams, but affects the whole community. The loss of valuable scarce jobs, the disruption of the fragile synergy of a small town business community, and the loss of tax revenue hurts both the town and county. Schools and social services are impacted greatly and so on and so on as it spirals into nothingness. For it is true “That a butterfly’s wings can cause a avalanche.” As with the aforementioned restaurants, Aqua you will be missed.

  6. Kearn Schemm on December 6th, 2012 8:52 am

    This is terrible news. We all loved Aqua and hope that in its case, as in the case of the other shops, some new owner will take over and keep the place going.

    This closing really will impact the whole community in a negative way.

  7. Mike Kuzma, Jr on December 6th, 2012 11:53 am

    Good to hear from you! I so miss your corn ‘n’ crab chowder . . . delicious! I was so sorry to see you go, but if Government is going to be picayune in enforcement as opposed to supportive of Business, that is the end result. One can only hope the lost revenue due to a lack of an operating license won’t destroy Hotel Cape Charles.

    Mr. Boehling, unless the restaurant (and I do not know one way or the other) is a leased affair, the closure would not impact a short sale. It is mere square footage and not a line item profit center where a defaulted lease would impact value.

    As for Acqua closing, that is a darn shame. My family made a point of going at least once every time they were there. Excellent food, great atmosphere and superb service.

  8. Ana Kohler on December 6th, 2012 2:27 pm

    THE WAVE in Cape Charles: Drowned Itself with False Words. Employees are the First, and will be the Last, to know.

  9. Rich Boehling on December 6th, 2012 8:34 pm

    Mr Kumza, Perhaps you are correct. However, lawsuits between development partners have always had interesting ways of unwinding. Stay tuned.

  10. Lisa Guzzardo on December 6th, 2012 11:23 pm

    The Chesapeake! What wonderful food and what a classy owner. Yes, the corn/crab chowder was the best. We miss it. I so hope that Aqua is not gone for good. We’ve been visiting Cape Charles for years and finally bought a lot in the Marina Village last month. We so hope that someone revives the Bay Creek area — we’ll never all fit in Kelly’s.

  11. Mike Killebrew on December 7th, 2012 12:26 am

    I have been an Aqua employee long enough to have seen five or six hundred beautiful sunsets across the Chesapeake Bay from our little oasis at the northern tip of Cape Charles. It has been a pleasure working with the fine staff and management for almost four years. The chain of management from Dickie to Oral to Adam has always been good, fair and forthright with their employees, making it a fine place to work. Having worked in the restaurant business for over twenty-five years, I really have appreciated the close knit and fun yet very professional environment that is Aqua. I have worked in a quality, busy French Bistro in Stanford Shopping Center in Palo Alto and a very high end Italian Restaurant with a Florentine Master Chef in the wine country of Northern California (among other places), and have found Shelly and her kitchen staff to be equally creative and consistent in putting out great food. She always does extremely well in using local seafood and produce. This is the best and most fun restaurant crew I have ever worked with and we have many wonderful and loyal customers!

    Yes, Aqua will be closing on the 22nd of December. I understand that this news was broken to Adam, Shelly and Tiffany at a meeting Tuesday morning. They were kind enough to wait to break this news to all the employees at a meeting after our very busy “Two for one local appreciation night.” The employees were the first to know and we were told the facts and we were given a best case scenario and a worst case scenario. I have always been an optimist and believe that we are a part of a greater plan. With this in mind and in my heart, I will enjoy my last days THIS YEAR working at Aqua, enjoy being off for Christmas and New Year’s Eve and look forward to the reopening of Aqua in the new year. I believe in a great future for Aqua, Cape Charles and the Eastern Shore. I look forward to many more sunsets over the Bay with my friends at Aqua! Keep the faith and have a Merry Christmas and Happy New Year.

  12. Bruce Lindeman on December 7th, 2012 9:21 am

    Great post, Mike. I’ll be hoping along with you that Aqua returns again in the year ahead. It’s been a great place to go with family and friends year ’round. Not much in life is permanent, especially in the food service industry. Thanks for your service through the years and hope to see you and more sunsets to come from the Aqua dining room.

  13. Jim Blanchard on December 7th, 2012 10:25 am

    Mike, great to hear a refreshing, positive perspective on here. You served my family numerous times at Aqua, we would ask for you by name when we went there. I hope that Aqua can restructure and re-open, perhaps tweaked to be a more sustainable business for the town.

    Above all I appreciate your first hand, positive perspective on an otherwise tough situation. I was excited to see The Wave take off a while back. As a part time resident I want to stay plugged in to things happening in town. I would wait for the monthly publication of the Gazette to keep me informed, it’s great to now have access to information on a regular basis. However I’ve found the dissent and pessimism posted on here depressing at times. The Town Council is neither the root of all of our problems nor the solution to them.

    Be the change you want to see in the world.

    Thanks for a refreshing post. I hope you and your family are well.

  14. Brett Yohn on December 7th, 2012 2:08 pm

    Having grown up on the shore and Bay Creek being my first employer, I was hired as a food runner For Aqua. It hurts me to see someone writing about such false things. Even though South Carolina is where I reside now I still visit the shore often and can say Bay Creek will always and forever be a huge part of that Town during good times and bad. Also sir you have not grown up on the Shore so therefore you have no idea of the struggles the Shore has seen or the fact that the Shore is home and always will be to some of the most amazing people and nature this nation has to offer. I am currently the youngest finance director and property manager in my area for some very large resorts and I owe all my success to Aqua and Bay Creek. The things I learned from the managers there and owners I have put to use with my current clients. So during these hard times there’s no doubt in my mind that Bay Creek will bounce back from this hard time. So I raise my glass to giving Bay Creek a much needed winter break and I will be there once the doors open again to enjoy the place that helped shape me. So to the most remarkable managers I have ever had — Adam Travis, Tiff and Ana as well as Chef Shelly and many others — Thank you for teaching me and your hard work and determination; take a break this winter y’all — I will see you when the doors reopen to AQUA.

  15. R.D. Matney on December 27th, 2012 4:02 pm

    Being from the southside and an avid bay lover, it is terrible when I hear something negative about Cape Charles. However, they need people coming in from out of town to keep the doors open. I have dined at Aqua since they opened. It was never great dining (the atmosphere was, but not the food). I was there a month ago and will be staying at the marina again for the New Year. Have to change the mindset a bit: GET THE SERVICE and the FOOD right. Forget the golf crowd — “they ain’t comin” enough to keep such a nice place open.

    Southside people would love to visit Cape Charles more often but they a need an affordable place to stay so they can have a good time. Hotel Cape Charles is great but rooms above $150 are just not good for a weekend getaway. I love the B&B’s too, it’s always great staying with Bruce and Carol.

    Hopefully that city-planned waterfront area opposite the marina will come through. The Eastern Shore is great.

    A Southside guy looking in with my 2 cents — that’s all folks.