Local Mellow Mushroom franchisees dive into Va. Beach, NoVa expansion plans

Local franchisees who run the Mellow Mushroom in Short Pump have opened a location in Virginia Beach. (Photo courtesy of Mellow Mushroom)

Jay Shah and his business partners had been on the hunt in Virginia Beach for the right location for their next Mellow Mushroom pizza franchise, but weren’t having much luck finding a spot.

Turns out Shah’s other job, as principal of Richmond-based Shamin Hotels, opened a door for his restaurant exploits.

Shamin had purchased the Sheraton Virginia Beach Oceanfront hotel at 3501 Atlantic Ave. in Virginia Beach in 2019, and found that the 214-room hotel’s indoor pool area needed some love.

“We were touring the building and coming up with ideas of what to do with it,” Shah said. “The general manager at the time pointed out that (the pool) isn’t well used and it’s a prime location.”

Three years later and after a whole lot of concrete to fill in the pool, the 4,700-square-foot space recently opened as the third Mellow Mushroom location owned by Shah and partners Joel Gilbert and Charlie Patten.

“The beauty of it was that, outside, the indoor pool was about a (3,500)-square-foot patio, which was very underused, so we incorporated that into the design,” Shah said.

The interior of Mellow Mushroom’s restaurant at the Sheraton Virginia Beach Oceanfront hotel at 3501 Atlantic Ave. in Virginia Beach. (Photo courtesy of Mellow Mushroom)

The trio also own the Mellow Mushroom in Short Pump at 12171 W. Broad St., as well as a location in Fredericksburg.

Shah and Gilbert were a twosome when they opened the Short Pump restaurant in 2017, and were planning to further expand when they were connected with Patten, a fellow Mellow Mushroom franchisee and operator of a Chantilly location.

“We knew he was active up there and we were active down here, so if we joined forces we could get more area covered,” Shah said.

The three banded together and opened the Fredericksburg outpost in 2021 and now are working on plans to add a fourth spot under their shared banner in Vienna by the summer of 2024. Shah said they’ve signed a lease to be part of a yet-to-be-built mixed-use development in that city called 444 Maple.

Shah, Gilbert and Patten do not own the Mellow Mushroom locations in Carytown and Midlothian. Those are run by separate franchisees.

Architects Incorporated handled the design of the Virginia Beach space, which opened in late October after delays caused by supply-chain issues. The restaurant has 125 employees.

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Bruce Milam
Bruce Milam
1 month ago

Neil gets most of the press but Jay has been just as active in the growth of the hotel chain. He’s done well in the pizza business too. What I appreciate about Mellow Mushroom is that their gluten free pizzas are cooked in separate ovens from the normal pizzas. I’m gluten sensitive, not Celia, but it’s still important to me.

pc amin
pc amin
1 month ago
Reply to  Bruce Milam

you are so correct. jay graduated from JMU with degree in restaurant and hospitality. jay is a low key guy but very talented

Mickael Broth
Mickael Broth
1 month ago

I’ve done mural/art installs for a number of Mellows around the country, including four of the stores mentioned in this article.. Jay and Joel have been fantastic to work with on these projects! Great folks, great pizza, really cool design concepts!