After a months of waiting through slow construction progress, the new stores coming to the Old Trail Village shops got possession of their spaces and in a push to get open, held a grand opening day July 19 that brought scores of curious Crozetians out to see what the new businesses had to offer. It was a weekend when things got rolling for Old Trail; it had opened its new pool two days earlier. Lite Rock Z95.1 was broadcasting from the lot. An inflatable playground for kids was at the entrance corner.
At the east end of the parking lot, Brett Wilson of Horse and Buggy Produce was set up and showing off sparkling ripe fruits and vegetables.
Nearby, Don and Victoria Rich stood outside their store, Zestivities!, which Rich described as offering “casual entertaining items and gifts, a large selection of hot sauces, baby gifts, bridal gifts, last-minute gifts, Tortuga rum cakes, a big selection of tumblers, tableware. We have an exclusive of Brandy J bags and also on Key West Aloe products.” The shop will also house Seg-Ville, a dealership in Seg-Way personal transporters. The day before, Rich and his gear had been featured in a Daily Progress story about a three-on-three Seg-Way polo match at King Family Vineyards.
“We’ll be expanding our tours over new trails in Old Trail,” Rich said, adding that he intends to do some trail grooming and has bought an old Farmall Cub to do it. He will also do tours just on pavement. He is pushing the usefulness of Seg-Ways for golfers. The vehicle was the 2007 product of the year for a national golf course manager association because “it doesn’t damage turf because it can’t spin a wheel. It weighs a fraction of a golf cart. Some courses are putting in fleets of them,” he said. Rich said they expect to have the door open by mid-August.
In the elbow corner of the building, ACAC was working on its 8,500-square-foot gym set-up. “We don’t want to be held to a date,” admitted co-managers Jeremy Tipton and Karen Melcher. “We look at it as an ‘express’ club right here in your backyard,” Melcher said. For the occasion, they were offering a $1 sign-up fee with a new membership for the first 100 people to sign up. Lots of folks were signing up. “It will be about cardio-strength, training and free weights, group exercises,” Tipton said. Both he and Melcher have exercise training backgrounds. “We’ll be out here every day.” The gym will also have a Kidz Zone day care area.
On the sidewalk next to them, Marcella Kauffman and her husband Jeff, owners of Anna’s Pizza, set up hot serving trays with samples from their traditional Italian food menu. Folks were lined up for penne with tomato sauce, baked ziti, meatballs, and sandwiches. Marcella’s mother, Maria Buzzetta, owner of Anna’s Pizza #5 on Maury Avenue in Charlottesville, is a co-owner too. Also on the team is sister Silvana Liguria.
“It will be a true family-run restaurant,” Marcella said. “We’ll be doing the cooking and serving. Everything is handmade from traditional Italian recipes.” The kitchen was about half finished. They expect to open in late August or early September. They were hiring wait staff meanwhile.
It was business as usual at Face Value Salon and Studio, which had opened July 1. Owner Lucinda Riley had decided to donate from the day’s proceeds to the Boys & Girls Club of Charlottesville. She was giving a free haircut to Jordan Robertson, the daughter of Deanna and Jeff Robertson, Old Trail residents. The salon has six chairs (five stylists) and the barbershop side has two. They all stayed occupied and folks were waiting in the chairs by the front windows. They were running a 12- to 15-name waiting list.
Riley said she “uses team-based pay [for the staff] and everybody gets a stake in the success of the business. So service gets a boost. It’s better for the stylist and the customer.” Stylists get predictable incomes.
“We want it to be a community place. It’s not in my heart to hurt anybody else’s business, but to be a place people like to go. I love it when people say they like to hang out here because they feel comfortable. My prices are good.”
On the end of the building Domenico D’Auria and his wife Kathy are opening da Luca, a café and wine bar. D’Auria, who is from Naples, owns Arcadia Construction and was working on the café. “We embraced the idea of the village. That’s a very Italian idea,” said D’Auria in melodiously accented English. “We’ll have 50 wines, 70 percent of them Italian, also some French, Spanish and Portuguese wines. Our vision is a social gathering spot for locals. We really want feedback on what type of food and wine people want.” The menu had a dozen savory-sounding Mediterranean dishes on it. He characterized the café as more bar-like than Anna’s Pizza. They hope to host musical events, wine and beer tastings, sports events parties, happy hours, and movie nights. “We want to gain a reputation for gastronomy and gracious and informed hospitality,” D’Aurais said. He said the café’s name comes from the Italian custom of referring to a place by its owner’s name. Luca is his son and “da Luca” essentially would be used to mean “We’re going to Luca’s.”
“We want an atmosphere like you would find downtown, but you can have it here in Crozet and not drive.”
On the streetside of the building, Trailside Coffee took the plunge after an heroic effort to get the space ready and opened for business on the grand opening day. Owner Marcia McGee and her husband Paul were both relieved and frazzled. “It’s been good,” said Marcia. “We’ve learned a lot already. We’re happy we got it open and it turned out well.” There’s a cozy fireplace in the seating area.
The house brew is from Williamsburg Roasters. “They do custom roasting and they’ve been a big help,” said Marcia. “They have an assortment of blends and standards. It’s ‘direct trade coffee’; the brand is ‘Intelligencia.’ They buy directly and the farmer gets a better price.” The shop also offers four types of smoothies, maté (a coffee alternative that is like an aromatic tea; “It’s so smooth. It’s a big thing in California,” McGee explained.), four or five types of paninis (grilled sandwiches) made in-house, a breakfast sandwich, Chaps ice cream, and Revolutionary Soup brought out from Charlottesville, two choices per day. The floor is reclaimed heart pine with a graceful curve by the display cases (Paul did the work) that was salvaged from the headmaster’s house at St. Anne’s/Belfield School when it was dismantled recently.
Cynthia Bayliss, who lives in Wickham Pond, was pleased with the whole scene. “I like it that you can live and shop and swim and golf here. I like the idea of building a community. It’s nice that it feels prosperous. It’s not gloom and doom here.”
Also in the complex are the offices of Dr. George Guess, who describes himself as a classical homeopathic medicine family physician, and Access Home Mortgage company. An office of Augusta Medical Center is coming to Old Trail Village as well.