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Okras and its ‘N’Awlins’ fare a sign of life on the Virginia Oaks Golf Course

It’s the “Cheers” of Virginia Oaks.

Okras — a staple restaurant in Downtown Manassas since 1998 — opened its second location on the Virginia Oaks golf course clubhouse in Gainesville. The Cajun-style restaurant is the sole occupant of the clubhouse, complete with dining areas, a full bar, patio, and events spaces.

The new restaurant offers the same signature “N’Awlins” food including Shrimp and Grits, Red Beans and Rice, Gumbo, but it does so in an atmosphere that is brighter, more open, and more conservative than its Manassas flagship location.

Owner Charles Gilliam had planned to open a second location for more than two years, eyeing spaces in shopping centers around Manassas and along Warrenton’s main street area.

He found a diamond in the rough at Virginia Oaks.

“It came out of nowhere,” explained Gilliam. “It’s an interesting scenario. We’re surrounded by 2,000 homes but were insulated by homes. We have ready-access the “Cheers” crowd, and for the people who don’t live here, trying to find the place is kinda like like going to Wolf Trap (a secluded National Park for the performing arts in Fairfax County).”

While Okras may be the shining new gem on the Virginia Oaks Golf Course, the course itself is no longer a player’s favorite. Reviews posted to the website Golf Advisor in recent months have rated the course “poor” to”unplayable.”

“Virginia Oaks used to be a great place to play and a good value. Not anymore. This course has been neglected and is in horrible condition. Cow pasture-like rather than well-maintained and cared for,” stated one review.

The course is under new management working to improve the course, according to replies on the Golf Advisor website. Gilliam didn’t discuss plans to improve the course at the grand opening of his new restaurant.

The new Okras at 7950 Virginia Oaks Drive will be a gathering place ripe for meetings, seminars, events, and weddings.

“I can’t think of anywhere else I would like to go to get away from the gridlock,” said Gilliam.

The first event at the new Okras is “Wine, Nibbles, and Scribbles” at 6 p.m. May 17 to benefit Rainbow Therapeutic Riding Center. On June 10 in Manassas, Okras will host its third-annual “Cajun Occasion” on the lawn at the Manassas Museum.

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