by Lisa Hinton-Valdrighi
You can’t go wrong with a fresh strawberry milkshake from Newsome’s Restaurant. That was owner Talmadge Newsome’s simple advice when I placed my shake order following dinner a few weeks ago. And as long as we’re dispensing advice, you can’t go wrong with any of Newsomes’s more than 50 regular menu items.
Just about everyone in the lower Northern Neck has heard of Newsome’s Restaurant in Burgess. And if they haven’t, they’re certainly familiar with the yellow building near the intersection of Jessie Ball duPont and Northumberland highways with the old Coca-Cola truck-turned-marquee out front.
For 30 years, Newsome’s has been serving up homestyle subs, sandwiches, salads and sides. But many casual diners don’t know the story behind the family-owned restaurant and how it has come full circle.
I grew up in Miskimon in Northumberland County not too far from where Jimmy and Betty Newsome first opened their vegetable stand and carry-out only burger joint on Route 360 in Burgess. Jimmy said there wasn’t any place in the area to get a good hamburger and his son Talmadge was only 12 in 1982 when he helped his father gut an old trailer and turn it into the carry-out restaurant. During the next few years, they added another redesigned trailer to increase seating. And then added an area for a movie rental business.
I remember well as a teenager going to Newsome’s on a Saturday night for a signature Betty Melt—a hamburger with fried onions and provolone cheese on grilled sandwich bread—with a heaping side of curly fries, then picking out a movie to rent.
Well, by 1988, Newsome’s had outgrown its space and Jimmy and Betty built a “cape cod style” restaurant where the original carry-out restaurant was. And in 1992, Jimmy retired…for the first time. He took a seven-year hiatus before jumping in again.
That’s right, around 1999, Jimmy started selling fresh produce and food in a little yellow building less than a quarter-mile as the crow flies from the original Newsome’s Restaurant site. They quickly outgrew that building and built a bigger one. In 2007, Jimmy re-retired and sold the business to Talmadge and his wife, Casey.
The restaurant seats about 35 and is diner style, order at the counter and your number is called. And through building upgrades and location changes, one thing has remained constant—the food.
The Betty Melt is still on the menu, competing now with a country melt—country ham, turkey, provolone, bacon, lettuce, tomato and mayonnaise on grilled sandwich bread. Yum!
Talmadge has added a few things here and there, but for the most part, the recipes, especially for the chicken, tuna, egg and side salads, are his mom’s.
In fact, his mom’s macaroni salad recipe, which includes tomatoes, onion, cucumbers and chunks of cheddar cheese, is a customer favorite. Talmadge says during the summer months especially, he makes between 12-to-15 pounds of the macaroni salad every other day or so.
Another customer favorite is the shaved rib-eye steak sub with mounds of thinly sliced steak and melted cheese and grilled onions on a sub roll. It was more than my husband, Chris, could eat when we went to Newsome’s for dinner a few weeks ago.
I’m predictable and always order the chicken salad cold plate when I pass through Burgess. The to-go container, heavy enough to need both hands to carry, is piled high with chicken salad, potato salad and that sweet macaroni salad. But I deviated for the first time to try Talmadge’s homemade crab cake sandwich. If I order a crab cake that’s all I want. Although it’s offered, I don’t want it dressed up with lettuce or tomato. The cake filled the bun and was chock full of crab meat. Not much filler in sight.
For dessert, he recommended a slice of coconut cream pie, again his mom’s recipe. I’m not a coconut fan, although I enjoy a good Pina Colada every now and then. But I humored him and went with the coconut cream pie and fell in love. As I write this, I’m thinking about making the drive from Weems to Burgess for another piece. It was thick and creamy, with just enough coconut shreds to taste but not overwhelm.
Newsome’s also serves several other homemade desserts courtesy of Betty’s recipe collection, including apple pie and lemon meringue. Newsome’s also offers daily specials for lunch and dinner. Monday night is hot roast beef with gravy, Tuesday wing night, Wednesday fried chicken, Thursday steamed shrimp and Friday hamburger steak and beef liver. Talmadge usually throws in a third special on Fridays like ribs or lasagna. On the first Saturday of every month, Newsome’s holds its Free Burger Night. Buy a burger and get one free. It’s so popular, said Talmadge, they usually serve 200 burgers, including 100 free.
Ultimate Food Challenge
For the Man vs. Food show host wanna-be, Newsome’s offers an Ultimate Food Challenge, roughly five pounds of “Utter Man-Food”. “The Barn” includes two quarter pound burgers, two chicken fillets, 10 slices of bacon, two eggs, a third pound of Virginia honey ham, provolone and American cheese, lettuce, tomato and mayonnaise.
“The Field” is one-and-a-half-pound of fries with cheese sauce. And “Just Because” is a 32-ounce milkshake of your choice.
If you eat the whole “Farm” it’s $35, unless you eat it within the 30-minute time limit, then it’s free. You also get a bumper sticker and your name and photo on the Newsome’s Farmer Wall of Fame. For the record, there’s only a few names on the wall.
Personally, I’d just order the 32-ounce milkshake and make mine the fresh strawberry.
235 Jessie duPont Memorial Highway, Burgess VA 804-453-9071
Monday through Saturday, 10 a.m. to 9 p.m.
Shaved rib-eye sub Crab cakes Macaroni salad
Did you know?
Newsome’s caters and offers fruit carvings by owner Talmadge Newsome.