16 West, Embrace the Brand
Recently, I had the honor and pleasure of meeting the founder and owner of the 16 West restaurant and lounge. Located in the heart of old towne Petersburg at 16 West Old Street.
Ms. Contessa Gilbert is a native of the Hawaiian Islands, but has lived most of her life in Petersburg, VA. As a single mother of two daughters, Ms.Gilbert is a Veteran of the United States military, a business owner, and currently serves as a Registered Nurse (R.N.), with a passion for servicing others.
In the early years of Ms.Gilbert, it was socially acceptable to bring your children to local lounges to enjoy a good tune and a burger. Gilbert’s father was a well known musician who would always bring her along to select events where he would be performing. This fueled her desire to one day own and operate a lounge of her own. In September of 2014 Ms. Gilbert expressed that when her daughters left the nest she had a void that needed to be fulfilled. However, that feeling was short lived. With additional time on her hands, she decided make her dream into a reality! Ms. Gilbert stated, “it was like feeding the soul and taking care of the spirit". 16 West was born and choosing a location for the venue was the least of her worries. Why follow a trend, when you have the power to become one? Gilbert set out with her sights on Petersburg, VA. With her father’s deeply rooted influence within the area as a prior resident and Virginia State University Alumni, she felt that it was her calling to be a stake in the revitalization of Petersburg.
16 West is not only a restaurant and lounge it is also a brand. A brand that supports building the local community and supporting the arts. The ultimate goal is to provide a diverse environment, where everyone is welcome. 16 West also provides a platform for local community members to conduct community outreach events. Contessa Gilbert said it best "If the business doesn’t support the community, the community won’t support the business. Pay it forward." 16 West is sure to be one of Petersburg’s main attractions this year with chef-inspired menus, signature drinks, and events!