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Valley Woman Opens Restaurant Inspired by Son - NBC29 WVIR Charlottesville, VA News, Sports and Weather

Valley Woman Opens Restaurant Inspired by Son

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WAYNESBORO, Va (WVIR) -

There's a new restaurant in the Shenandoah Valley and the owner says it's about more than just feeding people; it's celebrating life.

A mother of four boys with the two youngest nearly out of the house, Rhonda Winfield needed a plan. The idea came while she was in her car one day.

“I just would love to have a little tiny hole in the wall, and just a place that we could go and that people could just leave the whole world outside,” Winfield said, "and people could just have something like a really great hamburger and just a cold beer."

Winfield says it just snowballed from there. She soon found a location - the site of the old Schooner Restaurant on Wayne Avenue in Waynesboro. But Winfield didn't know the first thing about owning a restaurant, and that wasn’t very reassuring when she approached the property owner.

“She thought I was absolutely crazy and tried to talk me out of it and then I think I just wore her down,” Winfield said.

Now that building is home to Jake’s Bar and Grill, a name that has great significance for Winfield from a time when she was raising her two oldest sons.

“When Justin and Jason were little, when they were very little they were only 17 months apart and so I would load them up and say, ‘come on Jake and Leroy,’” she said.

Winfield just pulled the names out of thin air one day, but says she would use them from time to time.

“That what just, that was what it was supposed to be,” she said.

Jake, referring to Winfield's son Jason, was Lance Corporal Jason Redifer, a Marine killed in Iraq in 2005. He was only 19 years old and two weeks shy of coming home to Stuarts Draft. Winfield says it was a very dark time in her life but she had to keep living.

“You either have to get up and then just on the wheel and start running and find where you're going to run to or the wheel runs over you and you do fall in that hole,” she said.

Nine years later, people are at Jake's enjoying a burger and a beer.

“I absolutely just feel he's here and all about this. I just feel him rejoicing in this craziness that we're doing,” Winfield said.

And while the restaurant celebrates Jason, Winfield says it really celebrates her whole family.

“It's largely inspired by him, but it's not like it's a memorial here to him or any of that. This is about our life and the things that we had and our love as a family,” she said, “and sharing what's good in our lives now.”

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