The not-so-very ordinary story behind Tanglewood in Goochland

Posted at 11:30 PM, Sep 20, 2019
and last updated 2019-09-21 18:03:59-04

GOOCHLAND COUNTY, Va. -- Have a hankering for history or how about a pang for the past? Pull up a chair. Goochland’s Tanglewood Ordinary will satisfy your stomach and soul. Anne and Jim Hardwick's business harkens back to a simpler time.

"I guess part of the charm of Tanglewood is that we’ve been for a while," Jim Hardwick said. "The road was dirt when they built this place."

"I think we’re the only restaurant in Richmond that doesn’t have a television," Anne added. "We don’t have a television."

The couple with no restaurant experience bought the eatery as an investment. The Hardwicks had visions of turning a profit by selling couple of years later.

That was in 1986.

"It's changed a lot in 33 years since we’ve been here," Jim said.

Anne and Jim Hardwick

Anne and Jim Hardwick

Down-home country cooking is always on the menu. Fried chicken is their specialty.

Tanglewood opened as a gas station and early convenience store in 1928 -- Calvin Coolidge was living in the White House.

"The historic folks tell us that it's one of the biggest commercial log structures in the country," Anne said.

Past owners expanded the building to include a restaurant and dance hall. It was ‘the’ gathering spot in Goochland.

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“Oh yeah. It had quite a reputation," Anne said. "Tanglewood was a destination place for having a lot of fun. Sometimes too much fun!"

Some customers didn’t always see eye to eye or tooth to tooth.

“They would have fights in the parking lot. Someone told us that there was more teeth in the parking lot than gravel," Jim said.

These days the building -- which is on the National Historic Register -- is a kinder, gentler place that attracts loyal customers. Famed bluegrass musician the late Bill Monroe was even a repeat customer.

Jim and Anne Hardwick with Bill Monroe

The Hardwicks and dedicated staff shoulder nearly 90 years of history. After three decades as stewards, Anne and Jim said they had no intentions of letting go, just yet.

“This is not a fast food place. It is not a franchise. This is something to get in there and put your stamp on," Jim said.

A place called Tanglewood. There is nothing ordinary about it.

“That is why we’re in the restaurant business. We enjoy it. It's not just food. We enjoy it," Jim said. “There are lots of fringe benefits. We get the leftovers.”

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