Callie Opie’s Orchard Restaurant
by Irene Luck
“Calliope – a Greek goddess of eloquence and epic poetry or a loud musical instrument that produces sounds by sending gas through large whistles typically used on river boats and circuses.”
In the case of Mike Kavros, Callie Opie is the name of his maternal aunt, his mother’s sister who passed away at an early age.
“The story is that because of our Greek heritage, my grandparents named her after the goddess Calliope, and my grandmother sometimes called her ‘Callie’ and sometimes ‘Opie,’ so we added the space between both parts of her name,” he said.
When he and his wife, Roxanne, decided to open a restaurant, Kavros wanted to honor his aunt’s memory. Thus, he named his farm-to-table-style establishment after her, calling it Callie Opie’s Orchard Restaurant.
The orchard part of the name comes from the concept of the farm-to-table effort Kavros is striving for in his eatery. Towards that effort he has planted 130 dwarf apple trees on the property with the fruit incorporated into his meals as much as possible. He also plans to add raised garden beds so that other ingredients can be grown.
“We are trying to use as much local produce and other local products as possible when possible,” he said. “It is based on availability and what we have on the menu.”
Callie Opie’s Orchard Restaurant, nestled in a grove of trees just off a major thoroughfare between Mineral and Lake Anna, opened in August 2017. The restaurant is just a short drive from most of Lake Anna. The rustic barn-style building features an open beam ceiling, a bar, and a loft space for dining or other events. The bar specialized in a variety of liquors, wines, and beers, ranging from locally-produced craft beers, ciders, and liquor to international brands.
The unique menu changes seasonally but always features several protein dishes, a vegetarian option, gluten-free choices, and a limited children’s menu. The dishes – from appetizers to entrees and sides – are cooked to order and offer fresh and healthy options by sourcing locally-available fresh proteins, vegetables, and fruits when possible.
Callie Opie’s Orchard Restaurant is also offering daily specials that feature unique twists on the traditional preparation of the dish. And, should you have room for dessert, the endings are as distinctive as the rest of the menu.
“We are very appreciative of the support and business we have gotten from the community at large, and we look forward to continuing to invest back into it at every opportunity,” Kavros emphasized.
Kavros’ first exposure to Lake Anna came in 1984 when he visited with the owners of a small mom and pop restaurant he worked at part-time in Alexandria. Ten years later, the Kavros family purchased land on the public side of the lake.
“We loved it here and planned on retiring here,” he said. “I was working full-time in IT [information technology] and spent five years working at the Alexandria restaurant and in catering on the side.”
The couple moved to the lake full-time in 2008 and realized there were not a lot of high-end places to eat or hold events.
“I saw it as an opportunity, sort of like ‘if you build it they will come’ concept,” Kavros explained. “It was also a career change for me since the food service business was really just a short-term, part-time job.”
They then purchased 25 acres fronting Zachary Taylor Highway [Rt. 522] near the intersection of Chopping Road just south of New Bridge Road [Rt. 208]. The location also allows them to have an entrance off of Chopping Road. As they were designing the restaurant and the property’s other uses, they learned that the popular trend was to do weddings in a rustic, barn-style setting, hence the restaurant’s style.
Kavros also wanted to design the kitchen to be large enough to handle catering jobs and the restaurant service at the same time. Once the restaurant was completed, Kavros added an outdoor patio setting with tables and fire pits, allowing guests to enjoy the cool evening breezes and wildlife that occasionally find their way onto the property.
Over the summer in 2019, Kavros was also constructing a 3,000-square-foot event barn with a 200-person capacity for large gatherings like weddings, reunions, dances, fundraisers, and similar events.
In the past two years, the property has hosted four weddings, several dress rehearsal dinners, receptions, and several fundraisers with more slated for the remainder of 2019.
“Whether you desire country chic, classic rustic elegance, shabby chic, or a look and feel that’s altogether unique, Callie Opie’s Orchard provides the perfect venue for a romantic wedding ceremony and reception,” he said.
The restaurant is available for larger gatherings as well and can seat up to 80 people. For smaller groups, the loft can accommodate gatherings of up to 15 people.
“We’ve had a ‘plant night,’ a silent auction fundraiser, and wine tasting during the off-season,” Kavros explained. “We have also hosted catered lunches and dinners for groups like the Belmont Club, Red Hatters, Free Masons, Lake Anna Business Partnership, and the Louisa County Chamber of Commerce.”
His new facility will allow for even larger gatherings and events without interrupting normal restaurant guests. For example the Ducks Unlimited fundraiser will be held there this fall. The event barn will be available for use from May through November initially, but will eventually be available year-round as Kavros adds heat units.
“We are trying to offer what people want and need,” Kavros said. “There really isn’t any place local that can handle a large event. With the barn and patio area, we can accommodate those groups.”
Some of the potential uses for the new facility, in addition to weddings and receptions, would be murder mystery theater, paint and plant nights, fund raisers for local charitable organizations, dances, class reunions and corporate seminar and training sessions.
“I am excited to see the growth and progress as we continue to add to our amenities,” he said.
One of the benefits of holding an event at Callie Opie’s Orchard is that the business maintains the required Virginia Alcoholic Beverage Control (ABC) license and also offers event planners, officiants, and food and beverage selections on site.
This year, Callie Opie’s Orchard Restaurant is serving as the site for a Farmers Market, held on Saturdays through the fall from 7:30 a.m. to 1:00 p.m. These events offer food and food-related items only (no crafters or other vendors), keeping with the farm-to-table concept.
Kavros is also taking advantage of the availability of local Virginia grown products with a small selection of sauces, preserves, jellies, and honeys, as well as handmade canes and walking sticks. There are also souvenirs such as shirts, pub glasses, and stemless wine glasses sporting the restaurant’s logo available as gifts or mementos.
“We are really excited to be part of the area as commercial growth is finally starting to occur in the region,” he said. “I foresee growth as a good thing for this area and am glad to see other businesses coming to join us since we are within the designated growth area for Lake Anna.”
As word spreads about the unique eatery, Kavros is finding that diners are coming from Richmond, Charlottesville, Culpeper, Fredericksburg, and beyond, as well as from around the lake.
“We have a unique environment and a unique take on food and how it should be served,” he said. “Clients are hearing about us and coming to check us out.”
They are open for Sunday brunch from 10:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. and for dinner from 5 to 9 p.m. on Tuesdays, Wednesdays, and Thursdays. On Fridays and Saturdays, the eatery is open for lunch from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. and for dinner service from 5 to 10 p.m. Reservations are recommended and can be made by calling 540-894-4343 beginning an hour prior to opening, if not earlier.
Callie Opie’s Orchard Restaurant is located at 4533 Zachary Taylor Highway in Mineral. Check out the seasonal menu offerings as well as the various local entertainment and special activities occurring at the establishment by visiting www.callieopiesorchard.com or the business’ Facebook page at Callie Opie’s Orchard. Gift cards in various denominations are available at the restaurant and make a great housewarming gift for new residents, birthday and anniversary gifts, or for other special occasions.