By Candy Sagon
The grand reopening this spring of Virginia Beach’s historical Historic Cavalier Hotel and Beach Club, following a four-year, $85 million renovation of the 91-year-old oceanfront landmark, is a fitting symbol of the city’s booming tourism business and rapidly changing culinary scene. The latest state tourism data shows that the last five years have brought record numbers of visitors to enjoy the city’s pristine beaches and family-friendly atmosphere, but the biggest changes have come from a coterie of young, innovative chefs determined to shake up the city’s staid eateries. In the laid-back Vibe district, just blocks from the busy beachfront, one can find new craft coffee shops and farm-to-fork restaurants worthy of big-city neighbors. The Cavalier is also capitalizing on the national love for craft spirits with its own working distillery for making bourbon, rye whiskey and vodka — a throwback to the hotel’s Prohibition days.