NORFOLK, Va. (WAVY) – If you stop by Doumar’s Cones and Barbecue in Norfolk Monday for a waffle cone, you’ll be out of luck.
The iconic restaurant will be closed for one day, in memory of one of the men who helped build it, Albert Doumar. He lived 92 years, most of that time spent doing what he loved. Wednesday he passed away after a battle with bladder cancer.
According to Doumar’s website, Al Doumar began working at the Monticello Avenue establishment in the 1930s when his father moved the business from Ocean View. His work was governed by the simple philosophy: “anytime is a good time for an ice cream.” The simple orange hat and signature bow tie told you you were getting something special at Doumar’s.
If you passed by the drive-in cathedral to ice cream and barbecue, you found Al Doumar standing by his family’s contribution to food lore, the world’s oldest cone machine, and a tribute to an American ethic.
“Dad worked 68 years, everyday straight. He never took a vacation,” said Albert’s son, Thad Doumar.
Al often called crafting the crisps of refreshment his daily exercise. The waffle cone is said to have been invented by his great uncle Abe Doumar. But it was Al, the man people found most refreshing, almost as much as the big crafted cones that cooled many a resident on a hot day.
“He’s that touchstone for so many people who come here, so losing him is a personal feeling for a lot of people,” Doumar said.
And those personal feelings were felt from governors to senators to anybody who enjoyed a treat at Doumar’s.
After he served as an officer in the Navy during World War II, Al Doumar invested an unheard of $40,000 to build what has become an icon on Norfolk’s Monticello Avenue. And long after he sold the company to his son and son-in-law, his passion never wavered.
“Into his 90’s he said he fed off the energy of young people and kept him young and it gave him something to look forward to because the energy was infectious,” Doumar said.
Thad Doumar told WAVY.com his father worked every day up until about three weeks ago despite being diagnosed with cancer almost a year ago.
— Rep. Bobby Scott (@repbobbyscott) May 14, 2014
RIP Big Al of Norfolk’s Doumar’s. Welcomed everybody w/smile. Thoughts w/ family & generations of loyal customers pic.twitter.com/vbfaxY0kRw
— Mark Warner (@MarkWarner) May 14, 2014
Family will be at H D Oliver Funeral Home in Norfolk Sunday. Doumar’s funeral will be held Monday at St. Matthew’s Catholic Church in Virginia Beach.