From Lemonade to Legacy -- A History of Chic's Beach
One of the many great things about living in the Bayfront communities is the diversity of people, lifestyles, recreation, and homes. No where is that variety more apparent than in Chic's Beach. It has been said that you can't quite "size-up" the person sitting next to you at Zia's or crossing your path on the beach. But ask the locals about the correct name and spelling of Chic's Beach and you will see community pride and unity well-up. Chesapeake Beach is the area west of Baylake Beach to Little Creek Amphibious Base and north of Shore Drive. It includes many neighborhoods such as Chesapeake Shores, Chesapeake Acres, and Chubb Lake Villas. Maps dating back to the 18th century note "Chesapeake Beach" and a vantage point for Revolutionary soldiers to watch out for British ships was later named Lookout Road. Another main ingress to Chesapeake Beach, Pleasure House Rd, is reportedly named after a house that served up a bit of bootleg or simply some leg, we aren't sure. There are historic accounts that the widow of Adam Thoroughgood opened the Pleasure House Tavern to serve soldiers an innocent libation after a long day at watch. Local historian Susan Boland, who has studied Sarah Thoroughgood extensively, explains that Sarah operated an "ordinary" or a B&B in the Baylake Pines neighborhood that operated as a waypoint for travelers to the Eastern Shore. As they might have awaited weather conditions to improve to use the ferry service, serving alcohol was a benefit that was legally awarded to Mrs. Thoroughgood. She even had her own whisky still on the premises. But this was not on Pleasure House Rd nor named Pleasure House Tavern.
In 1919, Chesapeake Beach incorporated and is currently organized under the Chesapeake Beach Civic League. In 1948, Luther "Chic" Ledington and his wife Audrey ("Sadie") opened up a lemonade and hot dog stand on the beach at the end of Fentress Rd, where Buoy 44 serves locals today. According to Ledington family-friend and Mayor of Chic's Beach "Beetle" Bailey, a sign labeled "Chic's Beach" marked the location of Chic's Hot Dog Stand. The popularity of the location spread down Shore Drive and the name "ChicK's was later used for Texaco and the Oyster Bar. Growing up in the Great Neck area, I always knew the area with a K, maybe after the beach girls who lounged on the sand during the Low-Rent Regattas during the 80s or who ogled the body-builders at the Ocean Park YMCA in the earlier decades. I truthfully never gave the name much thought. Chesapeake Beach Civic League President Wally Damon speculated that the K might have been used to differentiate the businesses cropping up on the east side of the Lesner Bridge, but the Ledington business in fact did not expand beyond the small block of Ocean View and Fentress. South of the Ledington business, Buster's Barracks offered Chic some competition, selling hot dogs on the corner of Seaview and Ocean View and was only recently razed to make way for new condos, In 1967, the Ledingtons sold the property, and it has continued to operate as a popular locals restaurant to this day, serving up some of the most beautiful views in Virginia Beach. In recent years, The Virginian-Pilot abandoned the common misspelling of "Chicks" to refer to the area and have opted for the correct spelling. The historically accurate name of the subdivision, and what is referenced in real estate searches, is Chesapeake Beach. However, many businesses to this day will refer to and advertise the area as "Chicks Beach" opting to attract a larger audience over historically accurate information. The Chesapeake Beach Civic League has masterminded a way to unify all othes camps into the trademarked CXB. You can find CXB souvenirs at the local art shows, the Walgreens on Shore Drive, or on the Chesapeake Beach Civic League website. And on that website, one will be greeted by a friendly "Welcome to Chic's Beach!" It's quite a testament about the diversity and inclusiveness and pride of a community that can take a small family-owned hot dog stand that never expanded beyond it's block, spread it's name and popularity several miles, and decades later re-establish and promote it's heritage. If they were alive today, would you have known Chic Ledington if he were sitting next to you at Zia's or Sadie if she passed you on the beach? Yet, this unpretentious little beach hot dog stand has defined a community quite succinctly.