No, really — there is no such thing as a bar in Virginia. As a very deliberate result of the Virginia ABC Board’s regulations on the food/alcohol ratio, there are only restaurants that happen to serve food.
A recent Food Fight article (which is the source of the previous quote) in Brick gives a good overview of the impact this has on local business owners, and views from both sides. Mostly, it is a government regulation, and just like anything else with the Health Board or the ABC Board, as a restaurant owner it is better to just learn to live with the rules and jump through their hoops and just get back to making money.
God help anyone that can help change the system and these arbitrary limits, but it’s not worth trying to make waves until you are firmly established and can work from the inside.
I still don’t feel like I have a grasp on why this rule is in place, except for the typically cynical view that Richmond is behind the times and too much under the influence of the “Moral” Minority. The reasons that I have heard so far just ring hollow. (i.e., This law is not necessary for keeping bars from popping up on every corner. There are building codes and regulations on usage that can handle that.)
Something just feels wrong about my gut reaction against the regulation, so if someone can explain it, then please do. I’m all ears (or eyes, in the case of reading responses).