The Whaling Company
494 McLaws Circle
Williamsburg, VA 23185

(757) 229-0275

The Whaling Company Story

The current owner, Stephen York, opened The Whaling Company in the summer of 1980. The corporate name then was Continental Restaurant Systems owned by Ralston Purina. There has only been one Whaling Company ever built. Thru the late 1970’s to early 1990’s the corporation expanded to almost one hundred restaurants with names like Mountain Jacks and Hungry Hunter. Vickie Barbour, who joined with Stephen to buy the business in 2007, is a Hampton native and she was involved in opening the Mountain Jacks in Hampton in 1979.

Throughout the decades The Whaling Company was left somewhat alone by the corporate changes and corporate raiders. On July 04, Independence Day, 2007 Stephen and Vickie were able to buy the business and free The Whaling Company from corporate hands. We can now proudly say we are locally owned and employee operated. One of our original menus is framed in the foyer. It’s as much a relic as our décor. During the Covid lost-year our lease expired and Vickie chose to leave us. Our entire Team now is committed to keeping our business alive and well for each other and our valued guests.

Our longest-running and most accomplished chef, Tony Giallombardo, instilled pride and devotion to our quality for over 25 years since 1987. His beautiful wife, Mindy, now runs administratively the entire day-part operations. We married off their youngest, Sadie, and in January,2021 she left us for California. She started here as a hostess/bus-girl 8 years ago and became a highly valued waitress.

You will find our people dedicated to the art of hospitality, and most stay with us for years. One of our long-term waiters, Mike Boatwright, was on the opening team in 1980. Sadly, over Labor Day weekend, 2011, Mike passed away. Our longest-term waiter, Sonny Gideon, fostered one of our more popular dishes: The Sonny Delight! His son, Eddie, started when he was 15 as a busboy and has worked his way to rival his Dad as one of the most requested waiters. And then there is Ben, the undisputed “most complimented” waiter on Trip Advisor in Williamsburg.

Devasting to all of us here, Sonny passed away unexpectedly on Jan. 07, 2022. (32year W.C. veteran)

Our kitchen also boasts long-term professionals. Mike Mason is our long-term kitchen leader and valued member of our leadership team. Our prep crew, Christina and Terry, have for years now taken great pride in making all our homemade desserts, soups, and sauces. All our long-term kitchen guys play their part: Nate, Skip, James, Mary.

Lynda Levister runs the front-of-house night time operations. And her daughter, Destiny, who started at 15 years old as a bus-girl is attending college and comes back to wait tables whenever she can.

Rounding out our leadership group are the hardest working sisters alive: Victoria and Lisa Breschel, who manage the bar like it was is a family heirloom. Checkout the Williamsburg’s Next Door Neighbors magazine front page article devoted to Victoria’s story.

In Oct of 2021 we added a third-generation employee, Mya (AKA Mini-me): Susan, Amber, and now Mini-me.

Our current story is not complete without naming the few devoted brave men and women who got us thru the terrible 2020 Covid year: Victoria, Lisa, Ben, Mike, Mindy, Lynda, Destiny, Rob, Nate, James, Sean, Dexter, Rebekah, Christina, Terry, Kenny, Skip, Jared, Dayzia, Nancy, Sonny, Eddie, Teresa, Sadie, Amber, Albert, Andrew, Tasha.

The Whaling Company Story Continued (2023)

For the last three years our Vision has been to operate a stable, financially solvent restaurant in a stress-free work environment. After hearing this recently, Tom Waltz scratched his head and said “Steve, you’re in the restaurant business. If you can do that…………Bottle it!”

So much has changed since Covid, and its not over yet. As a matter-of-fact, most of us in this business are waiting for the other shoe to drop. Eileen Sperry (Williamsburg Visitor’s Guide) said “Its just evolution, the business is always changing.” And Debi Schafer (WARA) said “It will never be the same again.”

The Daily Press is finally writing about it: the Opinion piece Sunday 8/6/23 titled ‘Fighting to Stay Afloat’. The article is highlighting, with many specific examples, the inflationary pressures causing price increases, hidden service fees, surcharges, the inability to provide pre-Covid services like separate checks for larger parties, large party restrictions, reservation and no reservation policies, long waiting times, and the list goes on. We all feel the stress and the pain, and as Eileen put it “Steve, everybody is doing something different since Covid”.

We are still operating a business in the Red, and our people are still dealing with people-related stress. The costs of doing business has far exceeded what we feel like we can charge for our products and services. And some of our guests, fewer now but more vocal, are stuck in their pre-Covid expectations of what we can offer them.

It troubles me that there is this growing antagonistic relationship developing since Covid between service people in our industry and unknowing, unaware guests (I dare say “entitled guests”). It was never this bad before Covid.

I can appreciate that it would be difficult to understand some, if not all, the survival changes we are all making if you haven’t worked in our industry since Covid. Please be patient with us, and please know we are all trying our very best.

You may have noticed our prices keep increasing, but we haven’t yet added any hidden fees, service charges, or extra credit card fees. Our menu speaks for itself.

We call ourselves “The Misfits” here at The Whaling Company. And our saying now is “Love is all you need”.