For many locals in the Hampton Roads area, Surf Rider is a name that has long been synonymous with terrific home-style cooking. In fact, Surf Rider first opened in May 1980 when Liz Massey and her son, Stanley Bennett, had an idea about serving up real home-style cooking. Together they would do it all- from cooking to serving to bussing and cleaning up. Mother and son built a restaurant that soon became a favorite spot for many, serving friendly fare for over 42 years!
The original Surf Rider restaurant which was located in Virginia Beach at 17th and Mediterranean. Liz was running Mary’s Country Kitchen at the time and Stanley had just retired from the Virginia Beach Police Department after 20 years of service. The family-run business gave birth to other locations which began popping up across the Hampton Roads area in 1988. There are currently seven locations in all…still run by the Bennett family.
Chris, Stanley’s son has taken the helm of the family business, while dad Stanley has taken a more “behind the scenes approach.” Chris and Stanley opened their first location together in Haygood Shopping Center in 1990 and they didn’t stop there! At one point, there were nine total locations! With that keeping him busy, you can find Chris hustling from one location to another; creating daily specials, placing orders, training new employees, designing new locations and even cooking on the line. Chris began his restaurant career at the age of 10, washing dishes…barley tall enough to reach the sink, at the original 17th Street location. Chris worked at Surf Rider and a handful of other local restaurants around Virginia Beach and Palm Beach, FL where he went to college. Absorbing new ideas over those years, he loves trying out new recipes for the special board or future menu items! His love of cooking and baking came from his Grandma Liz. Her cake and pie recipes are still made in each location and are always a guest’s favorite. In honor of his Grandma Liz, Chris and Stanley opened Liz’s Country Kitchen & Bakery in 2015 where most of the menu items are examples of Liz’s home cooked meals and desserts.
Chris returned home in 1990 and shortly after had a son, Preston Tanner. Preston has worked his way up through the business over the past 10 years and is currently working side by side with his dad, learning all aspects of running a business. He is on track to co-own his first location with his dad in 2022!
Chris met his future wife, Diana at Surf Rider at Haygood Shopping Center, which moved to Cypress Point, 30 years ago. She ate lunch there often in between her shifts at Bennigan’s or between classes at Norfolk State University, studying to become an Elementary School Teacher. She had worked in restaurants since she was 14 years old, so was familiar with the business. After dating a few months, Diana began working at Surf Rider part time. Ten years ago, Chris and Diana decided it was time for her to work in the family business full time and she resigned from teaching in Virginia Beach Public Schools. A difficult decision because she knew she would miss the children the most, but the restaurant business has always had a special place in her heart.
Surf Rider Smiling Staff...
We Couldn't Do It Without Them!
A devoted staff helps keep things running smoothly at all locations. Some of the Surf Rider Family has been with the Bennett family since working at the 17th Street location! Numerous amounts of employees are an integral part of the history of Surf Rider and have worked at Surf Rider 5, 10, 15, even 20+ years! Dave Simeone, COO has been part of the Surf Rider Family for 30 years. The knowledge he has gained allows him to guide and assist in all aspects of running a smooth operation. He has worked his way up through the ranks, starting as a line cook, general manager, COO and currently part owner. Chris and Diana also coached wrestling and cheerleading in Virginia Beach Public Schools for about 15 years. Dozens of their students and athletes have worked at Surf Rider, some are currently General Managers and Kitchen Managers. The Bennett family would like to thank each of their employees, that are considered family and its patrons for being a part of the Surf Rider History over the last 42 years! We couldn’t have done it without each and every one of you!
Our Management Team
Surf Rider Group
Surf Rider Group
Chris & Diana Bennett
Surf Rider Restaurants
Surf Rider Restaurants
Bay Point Location
Stanley Bennett &
His Beautiful Mom "Liz"
From the Press
"Only been here once but the restaurant is gorgeous, the service amazing and the food delicious. We ate crab cakes, flounder and yummy fried oysters. Can't wait to go back."
Pa Kettle K.
"Super! Emily made us feel right at home, and the food, every one of our eight entrees, was great. Each of the fisherman's platters, one fried the other broiled, were excellent."
Always the best seafood. We have been customer for many years and are never disappointed. This place surpasses all others that try to imitate. The staff is friendly. Atmosphere is perfect.