Who Was Al Pollard?

Biography of Al Pollard
What can you say about Al Pollard?  If you knew him, you will never forget him.


He is the man many of us believe was responsible for the revitalization of Downtown Roanoke.  His high energy, charisma, stamina and sheer force of will breathed life back into the heart of downtown.


From meager beginnings selling corned beef sandwiches in a stall in the Market Building to moving to Jefferson Street with expansion after expansion creating the hottest night club in southwestern Virginia Corned Beef & Company, to the upscale atmosphere and first class steakhouse of Frankie Rowlands, to the charming class of 419 West with its beautiful décor and relaxed atmosphere, Al was and is a part of Roanoke’s culture.  He has touched and enhanced the quality of all of our lives.

Other cities who have seen our downtown “day and night” vibrancy ask how we did it.  When they did, they were all sent to Al and he, in turn, visited their downtown areas and shared his creative ideas and vision.  One such visit inspired a Frankie Rowlands in Winston-Salem.


Al never knew a stranger and was one of those rare individuals, who no matter how busy he was, would make you feel like you were the most important person in the room.  For those who knew him, picture him in your mind---does it make you smile?  For those of you who did not know him---I wish for you that he would have had more time.  It is said that you can judge the worth of a man by his friends.  If that is true, Al Pollard was the richest man in Roanoke. 


Al passed in 2006 leaving behind two very beautiful, smart and compassionate daughters.


Why the Memorial Foundation

APMF Overview


The Al Pollard Memorial Foundation is a qualified 501(c)(3) non-profit organization and the funds raised will continue to be used for scholarships and local charitable giving.


Many will say that Downtown Roanoke was energized by the vision and persistence of Al Pollard and his partners.  Al’s memory continues in hundreds of stories about his helping, encouraging and motivating his many friends and associates. The Al Pollard Memorial Foundation (APMF) was created to honor the life of a man whose contribution to individuals added up to an important impact on the entire community.


The First Annual APMF Golf Tournament and Gala in 2006 generated over one hundred thousand dollars in contributions, sponsorships and ticket sales.  The overwhelming response from the community paved the way for the largest single contribution to Virginia Western Community College.  The APMF donation is specifically designated for Institute of Culinary Arts scholarships at the Higher Education Center in downtown Roanoke.


The spirit of helping students start their careers in the culinary arts is in perfect harmony with the opportunities Al Pollard generated in Roanoke’s restaurant community.   We are looking forward to the influence the culinary school will have on what is already a fantastic collection of food venues and restaurants.


Our intention is to keep Al’s memory alive through the APMF  and it is growing into a product of the vision he had for Roanoke.  The natural focus on the food service community in relationship to our support for the Institute of Culinary Arts is creating opportunities that span much farther than anyone expected.