The meticulous attention to quality evident in every detail of River Stone Chophouse is the hallmark of M&M Hospitality Group. The same team that brought the award-winning Vintage Tavern to Suffolk consists of talented individuals who share a wholehearted commitment to world-class excellence.
Christopher Jones (C.J.),
River Stone Chophouse
Christopher Jones (C.J.) Leading our Chef team at River Stone Chophouse is Norfolk native Christopher (C.J. to all his co-workers and friends). As a young boy, C.J. was encouraged to hone his natural talents with food. His first and foremost mentor, his mother, instilled in him the confidence to make a career out of his love for food. Her support and “never sugar coating anything” attitude kept him on the path to prosper in the culinary field. READ MORE
Of course running the team at a Chophouse means that C.J. has mastered the art of the perfect steak. Prior to joining our team, C.J. spent eight years at Kincaid’s Fish, Chop and Steakhouse where his talent was recognized and rewarded as he worked his way up the ladder in the kitchen. In 2008 he came on board at River Stone working along side Chef’s Pete Evans and Ross Riddle. Together the three followed the lead of Chef Sam McGann where they learned and mastered the techniques to run the operation. C.J.’s skills were quickly recognized and he earned the distinction to be the one that is now a mentor to our other chefs he trains and advises. C.J. thinks of Sam, Pete and Ross often as he now sets the example in the River Stone Chophouse kitchen and leads the way for others to follow.
C.J. took his first kitchen position at 16 while still attending Maury High School. He was eager to test his abilities and was hired at Fellini’s in Norfolk. He rose to the challenge and discovered that he had an innate ability to be creative with food. He studied at Howard University before returning to Hampton Roads to continue his culinary career.
The freedom to explore and create new recipes at River Stone Chophouse motivates C.J. to cultivate his own recipes and introduce some of his favorite cuisines while still staying true to our Chophouse roots. His love of Asian and Cajun cuisines influences some of our blackboard specials and keeps things fresh and exciting for our guests. C.J. may step out of the kitchen on occasion to visit our guests and to understand first hand how they are embracing his menu offerings.
M&M Hospitality Group
Ken Dodd With tenures at national steakhouses such as Kincaid’s Fish, Chop, and Steakhouse and revered local eateries such as La Galleria, Ken Dodd brings an enthusiasm for excellence in world-class hospitality to his new role as general manager of River Stone Chophouse. READ MORE
A Virginia Beach native, Dodd took a roundabout path to hospitality expertise. Drawn to dynamic careers, he first studied acting then learned to pilot Cessna airplanes before becoming involved with cuisine.
Dodd credits his father for sparking his culinary interest – however unintentionally. Having traveled the world, his father had a sincere appreciation for the delicacies of different cultures, and instilled a love in his sons for fine wines and cheeses, particularly camembert.
However, his father’s appreciation did not often translate into culinary masterpieces at home, and it was growing up on food that was decidedly more functional than fancy that triggered an immense respect for culinary expertise in Dodd.
He began by gaining on-the-job experience working at the Virginia Beach eatery The Jewish Mother and soon moved on to national chain The Olive Garden. Dodd soon became proficient in the nuances of guest service and joined the team that launched the well-respected national chain of Kincaid’s Fish, Chop, and Steakhouse in Norfolk.
During his years with Kincaid’s, Dodd rose steadily through the ranks to become evening manager. He then took a position as general manager for La Galleria, one of Norfolk’s hallmarks of fine dining.
Kincaid’s and La Galleria gave Dodd a comprehensive background on providing an outstanding ambiance and experience for guests, a talent he brings to his new position at River Stone. His dedication to superiority puts him in good company at River Stone — he describes the team as incredibly committed to giving every guest that walks into the restaurant a top quality experience.
“The reputation of the McGanns and Mullinses precede them in this industry,” said Dodd. “They strive for excellence and work toward that goal by listening not only to the guests but to every crewmember. This level of dedication and commitment is easy to get excited about.”
M&M Hospitality Group
Brian Mullins Born and raised in Hampton Roads, M&M Hospitality Group founder Brian Mullins brings a lifelong knowledge and appreciation for the area to their newest restaurant venture, River Stone Chophouse. READ MORE
Born and raised in Hampton Roads, M&M Hospitality Group founder Brian Mullins brings a lifelong knowledge and appreciation for the area to their newest restaurant venture, River Stone Chophouse.
River Stone is the first restaurant of its kind in Hampton Roads designed to appeal to businessmen like Mullins. With the entire upstairs devoted to private entertaining space, River Stone offers businesses an exclusive, upscale ambiance in which to hold meetings and presentations, as well as host client meals and social affairs.
“Many businesses order in catering and you eat it uncomfortably in an outdated conference room,” Mullins said. “At River Stone, we provide state-of-the-art capabilities for meetings and presentations, and take care of every aspect of service and meals. It offers companies the opportunity to focus on business.”
His more than two decades as a Suffolk resident lends Mullins unparalleled insight into the community, which has served him well. He has leveraged this knowledge into a highly successful career and continually brings new levels of growth to the area.
A Born Entrepreneur
Eager to begin his career, Mullins founded his first business, Wallpaper Design, in 1982 while in college. Installing wallpaper for many commercial and residential buildings in the area, Mullins ran the company for more than 10 years, building strong ties with construction and design firms that helped him develop his next company, Quality Homes, Inc., in 1986.
His first foray into the world of restaurants came in 1981, when he helped launch franchise eatery Diamond Jim Brady in Virginia Beach. Since then, Mullins has launched the hugely successful Vintage Tavern, which sits as a point of pride at the entrance to his development Governor’s Pointe, and brings that breadth of experience to River Stone.
Pillar of the Community
Active in the community, Mullins serves as the Chairman on the Housing and Community Development Board and the Vice-Chair on the Fire Services Board, and also contributes as a board member of the Peninsula Housing and Building Association.
His hobbies include travel expeditions with his wife of more than 20 years, Teresa, who is also a partner in M&M Hospitality Group, wine collecting, spending time with his dogs, riding his Harley and bow hunting. Several of his trophies from various hunting and fishing expeditions adorn the walls of Vintage Tavern, providing a personal touch to its elegant lodge-style appeal.
M&M Hospitality Group
Owner Teresa Mullins a lifelong Hampton Roads resident, Mullins first started in the hospitality industry as a student, working at local restaurants to put herself through college at Old Dominion University. After graduation, she put her experience in hospitality to good use, helping husband Brian launch the successful building and commercial development venture Quality Homes, Inc. while she worked at Dominion Power. READ MORE
Early Roots in Hospitality & Design
A lifelong Hampton Roads resident, Mullins first started in the hospitality industry as a student, working at local restaurants to put herself through college at Old Dominion University. After graduation, she put her experience in hospitality to good use, helping husband Brian launch the successful building and commercial development venture Quality Homes, Inc. while she worked at Dominion Power.
As Quality Homes, Inc. expanded, she left her desk job to take on the full-time role of interior designer, working with individual homeowners to personalize each house and select the lighting, tile and furnishings that made them into homes. She continues to select the décor for the company’s model homes today.
Flair for Design
Mullins brought this extensive experience designing unique and personal interiors for homes to some of Hampton Roads most notable landmarks: Vintage Tavern and River Stone Chophouse.
For M&M Hospitality Group’s first restaurant, Vintage Tavern, Mullins chose several of Brian’s hunting trophies to highlight the walls, setting off the Rumford stone fireplace and hearth. The restaurant’s warm, welcoming décor gives guests the feeling of a cozy family-style extended living room.
For River Stone, the décor has a decidedly contemporary feel – a perfect contrast to the stunning Arts and Crafts designed exterior. Much of the artwork comes from local artists. The downstairs dining room uses the architecture itself as a design element, making use of exposed beams and showcasing warm reds and gold colors that enhance the beauty of the building. The upstairs, comprised of four rooms for private business and social entertaining, lends a prestigious air to any gathering.
Married for more than 20 years, Mullins and her husband are partners in every sense of the word, helming M&M Hospitality Group, Quality Homes, Inc., and the Shoppes on the Village Green in Governor’s Pointe together. Mullins is also actively involved in animal rescue, placing several strays with new families or welcoming them into her own.
River Stone Chophouse
Charlie Rizzo One of only three certified sommeliers recognized by the prestigious Court of Master Sommeliers in Southeastern Virginia, Rizzo brings passion and an effervescent approach to creating unique food and wine pairings at River Stone Chophouse. READ MORE
His extensive expertise in developing award-winning wine programs ensures guests continue to receive unparalleled, superior dining experiences at River Stone Chophouse.
An Illustrious Wine Career
Rizzo became interested in wine while working at a radio station in 1989. At a dinner with a representative from Columbia Records, a bottle of Shafer Hillside Select 1986 vintage was ordered and Rizzo was captivated by the sleek and elegant flavors. He later sought out the wine to serve at special meals and a lifelong fascination with food and wine was born.
Since then, Rizzo has created internationally acclaimed wine programs for Brutti’s in Portsmouth (which received Awards of Excellence from “Wine Spectator” magazine 2004-2007) , Swan Terrace at The Founder’s Inn in Virginia Beach (Wine Enthusiast Awards of Unique Distinction 2005-2006 and Wine Spectator Awards of Excellence 2007- 2008).
While with The Founder’s Inn, Rizzo received national recognition in 2007 during National Tourism Week in Virginia Beach, when he was nominated by his peers and won a prestigious Hospitality Industry award. He has also garnered numerous local wine awards for his work at Wild Monkey in Norfolk and Sterling’s Steakhouse in Chesapeake.
In March 2008, after joining the team at M&M Hospitality, Rizzo was invited by Coastal Luxury Management in Carmel, California to be a participating sommelier at the inaugural Pebble Beach Food & Wine event. He also eulogized the passing of the late Robert Mondavi, who is credited with the creation of the American fine wine industry, which was published in the July 31, 2008 issue of Wine Spectator.
Inspired by the legendary career of Mondavi, Rizzo’s goal is to communicate with each guest to recommend pairings that suit their individual tastes. If a guest prefers beer, he recommends Guinness Stout or Blue Grass Brewing Bourbon Barrel Stout with one of River Stone’s Harris Ranch beef cuts. If a guest does not enjoy red wine, he recommends instead the 2004 Chateau St. Jean Reserve Chardonnay along with the 14 oz. New York Strip Steak.
His favorite pairing at River Stone is the gluten-free Peanut Butter Mousse with Talasker Islay Scotch Whiskey. Unconventional as it may seem, the peat notes of the Scotch whiskey work in harmony with the gluten free peanut butter & chocolate.