Warm weather, sunshine and more daylight hours tend to make us all want to get outside and play. And there’s a great new place to do just that on Colley Avenue in Norfolk: Hank’s Filling Station.
Inside this super-casual spot are large communal tables that seat about 40, but walk out the back door and you’re in a yard that’s almost three times the size. Picnic tables and circular fire pits grace the grassy lawn, which accommodates bocce ball, foosball, cornhole and Jenga, plus a fun game for the little ones called Connect 4.
You place your order inside at the counter, and are given a number. When your order is ready, your number is called and you walk to the counter and pick it up. A bartender can serve inside and out at the same time through a large opening in the wall to the backyard.
I stopped in on a recent Saturday around 1 p.m., placed my order and made a beeline out to one of the fire pits. I sat on the circular walls surrounding the fire while I sipped one of their creative craft cocktails out of a shiny copper mug. Called The Happy Pill, this smooth, sweet concoction contained coconut liqueur, orange, pineapple and lime juices plus dark and silver rum. I chatted with fellow fire pit appreciators and watched a group of young parents playing the yard games with their toddlers. When my name was called, I walked a few feet over to the pass-through to retrieve my sandwich.
Anytime I see anything involving figs on a menu, I order it. My brie and fig panini was golden, crunchy and had just the right amount of melted cheese and fig jam. For those who want some meat on their sammies, there is an option to add Surry ham.
I spoke to general manager Heather Lolio about the menu.
“Our focus is local and seasonal,” she said. “Our barbecue will be smoked in the backyard, and we’re offering handhelds and things you can eat with your fingers.”
Among those choices: dips, deviled eggs, salad-on-a-stick, charcuterie and cheese boards, Cubans and Reubens and a s’mores tart.
Hank’s has 24 local beers on draft and 50 bourbons to quench your thirst. You can also buy beer and wine to go, because Hank’s has an off-premise license.
Acoustic musicians take to the outdoor stage on Saturday and Sunday afternoons.
I predict that Hank’s backyard will bring out the kid in even the most buttoned-up adult.
Open 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. Sundays through Thursdays and 11 a.m. to midnight Fridays and Saturdays.
Hank’s Filling Station, 4301 Colley Ave., Norfolk