At Your Service
Agnis Chakravorty on being a lawyer, a restaurant owner and a human crawfish
Published in 2013 Virginia Super Lawyers magazine
on June 11, 2013
Updated on June 14, 2013
Agnis Chakravorty’s life changed during an after-work beer.
After graduating from the College of William & Mary in 1985, he and his college roommate formed a business painting houses.
“I remember sitting there one day going, ‘What are we going to do?’” says Chakravorty. “We sat there after work drinking a beer, and [my roommate] said, ‘You know what? I’m thinking about going to law school. Why don’t we go?’ And I was like, ‘Well, OK,’” he says with a laugh.
He adds, “There’s not many job opportunities for someone who majors in government and religion.”
Attending the University of Richmond School of Law and delaying his entrance into “the real world,” as Chakravorty puts it, turned out for the best. He’s spent nearly 25 years counseling clients on day-to-day labor and employment matters and defending corporations in lawsuits. As a principal at Woods Rogers in Roanoke, the relationships he has formed in town are especially important to him.
“I have met some very nice people that are clients, but are also very good friends of mine,” says Chakravorty. “I met Al [Pollard] because I represented him.”
Pollard—famous for co-owning Roanoke’s esteemed Corned Beef and Company restaurant—died in 2006, but not before he inspired many in the local restaurant business. Chakravorty credits him with the revitalization of downtown Roanoke following the flood of 1985, which crippled the area. He even inspired Chakravorty, who supports sustainable development in the community and became co-owner of two restaurants in town. “I have clients from other parts of the state, and they marvel at the quality of entertainment we have down here [in Roanoke],” he says.
Chakravorty, fellow Woods Rogers attorney R. Neal Keesee Jr. and restaurateur Chip Moore opened The Quarter, inspired by the flavor of New Orleans, in April 2011. “We thought it would be fun to do,” says Chakravorty.
Sidewinders Steak House and Saloon came next, which he owns with two other friends. “We just opened it in November,” Chakravorty says. “It’s a country-western place. … We’ve got a concert series.” With a stage and booming sound system built in, artists can just plug in and play, entertaining 300 people when the venue is at capacity. The restaurant has already drawn performers like Jana Kramer and Uncle Kracker.
Chakravorty also helps students who plan to cook up their own excitement on the restaurant scene. For the past seven years, as a founder and board member for the nonprofit Al Pollard Memorial Foundation, Chakravorty has helped with the foundation’s annual golf tournament and gala, which benefits the Virginia Western Community College’s Culinary Institute. “We’ve given away close to about $30,000 in scholarships a year,” he says.
Juggling a law practice and two restaurants is a tall order, but a busy work schedule doesn’t get in the way of Chakravorty’s having a good time.
Speaking of good times, “I lost a bet with our head chef at The Quarter for Mardi Gras, and I had to wear a crawfish suit for a couple hours,” he says. “I’m willing to do stuff like that.”