Article and photography by Fitz
Lead photo of Chef David Hannah at Stoley’s
Flashback to June of 2016 and while on vaca, Hannah was let go from Press 626. He had only been there for eight months. That being his first step up to executive chef after working in the industry for twelve years, the news hit him like a sharp blow to the jaw. Adding an extra punch to the gut, Press, filled the position with the chef Hannah had replaced to become the exec.
Fast forward to the present, however, as executive chef and part owner of Stoley’s, David Hannah, couldn’t be happier. He’s reconnected with his former boss at Cobalt, Alvin Williams and jokingly told me, “It’s going to cost money to get rid of me now.” This moment of brevity from Hannah stuck with me, as his disposition, known by many in the industry, is often reserved–some might even say docile.
Saying I can be objective about what Hannah is up to at Stoley’s would be a lie. Full disclosure, I’m openly rooting for him. I’ve gotten to know him and his food over the years and the combination of the quality of his food paired with its approachability won me over a long time ago. He’s a talent that’s flown under the radar for some time now but he’s bested some of the best locally in food competitions. Chef Steven Marsh at Legrand, Chef Kevin Sharkey at 1608, just to name a few.
Stoley’s has been an institution in Great Neck for awhile now. So, as a Norfolk boy, I’m not about to try and get in the head of what Stoley’s regulars are looking for. What I can say, with full confidence, is Hannah is one of the best I’ve come across in the years I’ve been writing about Hampton Roads food when it comes to elevating American standards. He excels at it like few others in the seven cities. He knows flavor profiles through and through. He’s a comfort food dealer who’s about pleasing those who come to him for food. Ultimately, even if Stoley’s changes a bit, I believe those that visit loving what Stoley’s used to be, will appreciate Hannah’s food and embrace this new chapter. It’s going to be a delicious one.
For more on Stoley’s visit them online at www.stoleys.com
Stoley’s is located at 1408 W Great Neck Rd in Virginia Beach