The Water Dog Awarded Virginia Restaurant of the Year

October 14, 2019

On Thursday, October 10, 2019, The Water Dog received The Ordinary Award in the category of Restaurant of the Year. The Ordinary Award, presented by the Virginia Restaurant, Lodging & Travel Association (VRLTA), celebrates and honors all of Virginia’s restaurants, lodging establishments and hotels, DMOs, attractions, and more. The Award is named after Chinn’s Ordinary which is considered “the oldest original inn in America” and speak to all facets of hospitality—restaurants, lodging, and travel.

Lynchburg natives and brothers, Dave and Chris Henderson came onto the Downtown Lynchburg scene in 2016 when they opened The Water Dog as their first restaurant venture. By creating a brand to tell the story of the restaurant, they established The Water Dog as not just a mascot, but as a lifestyle. The philosophy that work and play go hand-in-hand can be seen in their relationship to their customers, their treatment of their staff, and their approach to day to day operations. The Water Dog’s menu of delicious, affordable food with wide appeal is well paired with 40 beer taps focusing local, regional, and national craft breweries served up in a casual, rustic atmosphere. Their dog-friendly policy, outdoor seating, and games for kids and adults of all ages makes The Water Dog a second home to many.

On top of their dedication to restaurant excellence, Dave and Chris envisioned The Water Dog as a vehicle for community participation and collaboration. Over the last three years, The Water Dog has supported local non-profits through profit-sharing nights, free hosting of charity events, and donating food to non-profit fundraisers. Ashley Kershner, Executive Director of Downtown Lynchburg Association expressed, “We are so pleased that The Water Dog is being recognized in this way. Their generous support of our city’s non-profits and their work to create an exciting and collaborative downtown atmosphere has done a lot for our community. They are so deserving of this award, and we are proud to have them in our city.” Local non- profits supported include but are not limited to Lynchburg Humane Society, HumanKind, Miriam’s House, Miller Home For Girls, Over the Edge Suicide Prevention, Lynchburg College, Liberty University, EC Glass High School, Heritage High School, Brookville High School, Virginia Episcopal School, Jefferson Forest High School, Thomas Jefferson Elementary School, Dunbar Middle School, Forest Youth Athletics Association, Central VA Hokie Alumni Association Cooks for Hunger, Academy Center of the Arts, Out of the Darkness Walk, Downtown Lynchburg Association, and Spectrum Arts Society.

In addition to their philanthropic work, their impact on the community can be felt through the vibrancy they bring to the downtown district with their local business partnership events. By working collaboratively with nearby businesses such as Pints After Pedals with Bikes Unlimited, Drag Brunch with Spectrum Arts Society, and the first ever Oktoberfest, The Water Dog has created a new downtown scene that didn’t previously exist. “These activities are important to the continued growth and revitalization of Downtown Lynchburg, as they attract more and more people to our urban core,” added Anna Bentson, Assistant Director, Office of Economic Development & Tourism.

“It’s such an honor to have received this award. Never in my wildest dreams would I have imagined winning an award as prestigious as this, much less even be nominated. All we have ever wanted is to make a small impact to Downtown Lynchburg. I’m so grateful to the people around me that work every day to make The Water Dog such a special place and to our community who has embraced us,” said Dave Henderson. The Water Dog was nominated by the City of Lynchburg Office of Economic Development and Tourism in partnership with Downtown Lynchburg Association for their commitment to excellence and innovation and their dedication to serving the Lynchburg community. Other nominees for The Ordinary Award in the category of Restaurant of the Year include 1799 at The Clifton Inn in Charlottesville and The Boathouse at City Point in Hopewell.

Additional information about The Water Dog can be found at and on the Facebook event page at Information about the Ordinary Awards can be found at

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