, author of Axios Richmond
The COVID-19 pandemic wasn't all doom and gloom for restaurants. Through ingenuity, savvy and smart pivots, some managed to find success.
Beauvine Burger Concept in Richmond found success by leaning into takeout early on.
The result: The first Friday that dining rooms were shuttered by Virginia mandate, Beauvine set a sales record.
Author: 13NewsNow.com, Preston Steger, Christopher Collette, Brenna McIntosh
Published: 7:08 PM EST January 19, 2024
PORTSMOUTH, Va. — A Virginia ABC location in Portsmouth will be converted to counter service less than a month after a man brazenly stole liquor from the store.
The ABC store on London Boulevard is one of two locations being remodeled, the other being on Turnpike Road, officials confirmed to 13News Now.
Under the counter service model, ABC team members select items as requested by customers. There are other stores with self-service available in Portsmouth and other cities in Hampton Roads.
The London Boulevard closed on Jan. 12 and the modeling project is underway, which Virginia ABC officials said should be done within the next few weeks.
13News Now spoke to several Portsmouth residents who say they aren’t happy about the temporary closure, and they aren’t too thrilled with the idea of counter service either.
“I would like to be able to go in the store and touch my own bottle," said Shatiara Mitchell.
“The lines here at like three o’clock in the afternoon are usually pretty long to begin with. Then, if they’re going to have counter service, they’re going to probably be out the door," said Britton Grieser.
Grieser said he can understand why they’re making the change. He said he’s witnessed theft at the London Boulevard store firsthand.
“Usually, it’s couples that come in and somebody will go to the counter, you know, with a couple little airplane bottles or something," he said. "Then their partner will sneak in the back, grab a bottle, and stuff it in their pants...and walk out."
The Turnpike Road store's remodel is done and the store reopened on Jan. 12.
The remodeling comes after the arrest of 41-year-old Diante Jackson of Virginia Beach, who police say stuffed multiple bottles of alcohol down his pants and simply walked out without paying, all while bemused onlookers jeered.
Surveillance video from inside the store on London Boulevard shows the man picking out at least four bottles of top-shelf vodka on Dec. 30.
Additionally, Portsmouth police claimed Jackson had hit this same store before, and stolen more than $3,000 in alcohol.
According to Virginia ABC, the London Boulevard and Turnpike Road locations were among the top five stores across the Commonwealth for theft during the fiscal year 2023.
December 12, 2023News Release Contact:Virginia ABC Communications - (804) 213-4413
Virginia ABC Announces Dates for Its Alcohol Education and Prevention Grant Applications
In an effort to eliminate underage and high-risk drinking, the Virginia Alcoholic Beverage Control Authority (ABC) will begin accepting applications for the 2024-2025 Alcohol Education and Prevention Grant program on Jan. 1, 2024.
This is the ninth year Virginia ABC is offering grants to support alcohol education and prevention programs and projects across the commonwealth.
Since 2013, Virginia ABC has awarded an average of $80,000 each year through its grant program to Virginia organizations working to prevent underage and high-risk drinking. Organizations are eligible to receive up to $10,000 each to support evidence-based programs that have a long-lasting impact and encourage partnerships between organizations. Community coalitions, law enforcement, nonprofits, schools, government entities, colleges and universities, faith-based organizations and prevention-related groups are encouraged to apply. Proposed projects must address prevention in one or more of the following focus areas:
•providing or serving alcohol to youth
“We strive to support and work collaboratively with organizations that share our mission to strengthen the commonwealth through public safety and education,” said Katie Crumble, director of Virginia ABC Community Health and Engagement.
Applications are available online, with a convenient online platform for submission. Virginia ABC has provided an application guide to assist applicants and provide more information about the program. This grant application guide and the grant application are at www.abc.virginia.gov/education/grants.
Applications are due by 5 p.m. on March 1, 2024.
Travis Hill to step down as Va. ABC's CEO; Hill joined agency in 2014, led 2018 transition to authority
Virginia Business - PUBLISHED SEPTEMBER 28, 2023BY KATE ANDREWS
Travis Hill, CEO of the Virginia Alcoholic Beverage Control Authority, announced Thursday he plans to step down from his post at the ABC, where he's worked since 2014.
Hired nine years ago as the Virginia ABC's chief operating officer, Hill became CEO in 2018 after managing the former state department's transition to a semi-independent authority with more autonomy, Over the past nine years, the ABC has brought in more than $4 billion in profits and tax revenue to the state, according to Thursday's announcement, and it moved its headquarters from Richmond to Mechanicsville in Hanover County.
Starting in 2018, the Virginia ABC surpassed $1 billion in liquor sales each year and broke sales records each year of Hill's tenure as CEO. In fiscal year 2023, the authority exceeded its gross revenue from the previous year by $54 million, with $1.4 billion in sales.
However, Hill also presided over the authority during a period of recent controversy. In June, reports emerged that employees embezzled money from seven ABC stores last year, taking advantage of a cash register system vulnerability. A September 2022 audit uncovered the thefts, but ABC leaders said they didn't learn about it until February 2023. Four higher-up employees were later placed on leave, but it's unclear if that was connected to the thefts. Still, ABC's board chair, former state Del. Tim Hugo, expressed perplexity over how agency leaders could be unaware of the problem for six months.
During a town hall meeting Thursday, Hill said, "Joining Virginia ABC in its prior form as a department and then leading its transformation to an authority was an honor as I learned about our unique place in Virginia's government as a source of revenue and regulation. We held commitments to generating profits through the responsible sale of spirits while ensuring public safety by enforcing regulatory standards that afforded a fair marketplace.
"Our unique organization had many partners, thousands of employees and responsibility for an industry that has not one, but two, constitutional amendments dedicated to its operations. Together, we transformed into a modern governmental authority, building a distribution center that supports creative retail offerings through the promotion of products that come from every corner of the world and this commonwealth."
Hill did not disclose what his plans are going forward, saying only, "I look forward to new challenges ahead where I can apply the lessons I've learned while working with you."
Under Hill, Virginia ABC managed changes in the sale of alcohol during the COVID-19 pandemic, when state policies allowed the sale of mixed drinks off-site by restaurants, a move that kept some Virginia eateries afloat during the shutdown, when they were limited to carryout and delivery options. Also, Gov. Glenn Youngkin's administration was displeased with a decline in revenue the authority was bringing to the state, according to a Virginia Mercury report in July. In an ABC board meeting, the state's chief transformation officer reportedly noted that the ABC's operating costs grew since 2017 as did sales, but not to the same degree, and the authority's contributions to the state declined from 2021 to 2023.
According to an ABC spokesperson, Hill's last day will be Nov. 10, and Chief Law Enforcement Officer Thomas Kirby will serve as interim CEO. Kirby, according to his bio, joined the ABC as a special agent in the bureau's Hampton and Richmond regional offices in 2001, and previously served as a police officer in Newport News and Hampton.
Hill previously served as state deputy secretary of agriculture and forestry before joining the Virginia ABC. He is currently president of the National Conference of State Liquor Administrators and is a graduate of the University of North Carolina, from which he received his bachelor's and law degrees.
Virginia Alcoholic Beverage Control Authority (ABC) has earned the Overall Best Practices Award from StateWays magazine, the only national magazine devoted to the issues and subjects that affect the 17 states and multiple local jurisdictions where government manages the sale and distribution of distilled spirits at the wholesale level.
This is the third such recognition for Virginia ABC in the last decade.
StateWays recognized Virginia ABC’s innovations in five categories:
• Best Distribution/Warehouse Innovation
Team W.O.W. (Warehouse Optimization Workgroup) implemented 54 ways of enhancing operations and logistics; people, performance, and culture; safety and enforcement; and communications and training. The effort led to an increase in cases packed per hour; an increase in cases shipped per day; a reduction in staff turnover; and a record 146 days without injury.
• Best Enforcement Program
Virginia ABC Licensing (VAL) allows licensees to apply for, renew, modify and surrender any license online. Additionally, VAL processes all fees and fines online, eliminating the need for people to drive to an ABC regional office. The system was developed to replace a largely paper-based system.
• Best Technology Innovation
A dedicated call center has improved the Authority’s phone call answer rate from 60% to 97%. Improved, quality service has led to more incoming calls, an estimated 33,000 this year. The call center also features data tracking and metrics that were not previously available.
• Best Licensee Outreach Program
In response to a change in state law, the ABC Community Health and Engagement Division developed the Responsible Alcohol Delivery Driver (RADD) training. This 45-minute online training educates licensees and alcoholic beverage delivery drivers on delivery best practices. More than 15,000 people have taken the training, with 89% of survey participants agreeing the training was relevant to their job duties.
• Best Retail Innovation
To create an equitable way of selling allocated products (primarily bourbons), Virginia ABC created the drop system. Store locations and times are randomized, and once a drop occurs, store employees receive a five-minute heads-up notifying them that a range of products are now available for sale. Shortly after that, Virginia ABC announces the drops to the public via email and social media. Products are then made available to customers on a ¬first-come, ¬first-serve basis, with a limit of one product per person. Earlier this month, Virginia ABC added text notifications for drops.
StateWays’ editorial staff judged all award entries and deemed the totality of Virginia ABC’s entries deserved the highest recognition.
“This award from StateWays recognizes our commitment to accountability, service, integrity and performance excellence,” said CEO Travis Hill. “Earning this honor speaks to the incredible teamwork that is part of our culture and values. I am thrilled to be a part of such an incredible team that has accomplished so much in service to the commonwealth.”
"We’re proud to recognize the Virginia ABC as our Best Practices Awards Overall Winner for 2023," said Jeremy Nedelka, StateWays magazine vice president. "The agency is our first three-time winner, repeating an achievement from 2015 and 2021. Our judges chose Virginia as the ‘Best of the Best’ due to innovation and operational excellence across a number of areas, including distribution, technology and licensee education."
The fall 2023 digital edition of StateWays is available at this link.
News Release Contact:Virginia ABC Communications - (804) 213-4413