Business Briefs: June 2017

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Raphael Strumlauf. Photo: Theresa Curry.

Crozet Market to reflect community

As of mid-May, there were 2,500 new products on the shelves of the Crozet Great Valu, and Raphael Strumlauf could name most of them. He’s one of the owners––with Mark Green and Kurt Wassenaar––of the store, now renamed Crozet Market, in the Crozet Shopping Center. Most of the new items are there because customers asked for them, Strumlauf said: “That’s how the former owners built their inventory, and we want to continue that.”

Walking through the store, he pointed out individual items––Indian products, cut flowers, spices, mixers, food for special diets––added by request. He said that people who were skeptical at first about some of the changes have been reassured by his responsiveness. Other items have been rearranged, consolidated and shifted to make more open space, and that will continue, with new, more efficient shelving. In the back right-hand corner of the store, some spaces will change to make room for large meat items. More expansion in the present space will be in the bulk food and produce sections.

Strumlauf also owns the Market Street Market in Charlottesville with his father, Steven. “He’s the one who gave me my passion for food and wine.” He expects that the Crozet store will form itself organically to be different in many ways from the downtown space. People shop for their families, cook more at home, buy larger packages of vegetables and meat, he said.

Besides responding to requests for certain items, Strumlauf has an eye for what might allow his customers to do most of their shopping in one stop, rather than leaving town. At the front of the store there’s a new greeting card display and a bit farther back is an assortment of gift cards.

Price is another reason why even regular customers might shop elsewhere, Strumlauf said. When a customer told him prices were competitive with Walmart in everything except laundry detergent, he was determined to correct that, ordered more at one time, and has been able to lower prices.

There’s a lot more to come. The owners purchased the former home of Crozet Tack and Saddle (now moved to the former Patterson Flower Shop) and it will offer deli meats and cheeses, pastries, prepared food––including homemade salads––and a few tables and chairs for onsite lunches. It’s hard to tell how quickly that will happen, said Strumlauf, who’s scouting for the right equipment to outfit the deli, but he hopes it will be within the year.

Strumlauf said he’s a man living his dream. He loves the grocery business, and not just the food, the wine and the interaction with customers. Even the parts that might seem dull to others are appealing to him: “Contracts, vendors, finding the best deals on equipment, hiring personnel: I love it all.”

Mechum Trestle owners still seeking right fit

Construction is still underway and so is the search for the most appropriate tenant for the long-vacant restaurant location at the intersection of Routes 250 and 240. Co-owner Bill McKechnie said the perfect match will be someone with the combination of relevant experience and the correct understanding of what will work in that spot. “I live right up the road, so I think I have a good idea of what people want,” he said.

He envisions something family-friendly, inclusive and comfortable in the former home of several homey eateries. “That’s the history,” he said, “of course, with the notable gap of two decades.” He doesn’t rule out a chef-driven operation, but neither does he want a place that’s only for special occasions. “I don’t think we need a place with white linens,” he said. “We want something sustainable, that will do well, that will have something for everyone.”

Season underway at Chiles Orchard, tasting rooms

Fluctuating weather conditions have not hurt the main peach crop at Chiles Orchard, said store manager Lisa Henson. The earliest crop was lost at the Crozet location, but other varieties are thriving and right on schedule to be picked in late June and early July. Strawberries have been plentiful all through May and crowds have flocked to the pick-your-own fields. Henson said the orchard has increased the number of pancake breakfasts, offering them every weekend morning in the season. “Whatever is in season, that’s what we top the pancakes with,” she said. “People love them.”

Chris Hansen pours peach-infused wine at Prince Michel at Chiles Orchard. Photo: Theresa Curry.

The sweet concentrate from last year’s peaches flavors one of the wines next door at Prince Michel at Chiles Orchard tasting room, said wine shop associate Chris Hansen. The tasting room offers fruit-based sweet wines and wine slushes, including the new “Froze Yay,” a frozen rosé. Those with more classic taste in wine can order a flight of four wines of their own choosing, or a bottle of one of the vineyard’s popular wines.

If cider’s your drink, it’s a couple of steps to the Bold Rock Tap Room and Cider Garden, an outpost for the Nelson County operation offering all of the Bold Rock hard ciders on draft.

There’s ample seating in the cider garden and throughout the orchard to enjoy local fruit, wine and cider; local music and local artists, with a full schedule of events planned for the summer. For music and special events, visit chilesfamilyorchards.com

Batesville Market opens, going strong

Neighbors poured into the Batesville Market early last month on Batesville Day, welcoming the landmark store’s re-emergence as a full-service market. Some last minute donations easily pushed the market’s “Go Fund Me” campaign over its $60,000 goal, and the community’s generous support was evident. Shelves were well-stocked, full of local produce, artisanal baked goods and a wide variety of everyday necessities.

Chef Scott Link of Batesville Market. Photo: Theresa Curry.

Chef Scott Link, who manages the kitchen, said the food sold for takeout lunches or in-house consumption features local ingredients whenever possible. Especially popular has been the house-smoked pastrami Reuben, also featuring Goodwin Creek bread and local sauerkraut.

“Vegetarians have loved our vegetable gallettes,” Link said. Baguettes and croissants are from MarieBette, the Charlottesville bakery. Customers can pick up weekly shares or half-shares of produce from Bellair Farm at the market, as well as locally-made beer and wine and locally roasted coffee.

Link said the strong support has continued through the weeks following the market’s opening, including continuing patronage of the weekly concerts featuring local bands. Recently, hand-cut rib-eyes have been added to the meat cooler. “But we want people to know they can find the regular grocery items they need, even if they’re not fancy,” he said. “We always have milk and eggs, things like that.”

Batesville Market. Photo: Theresa Curry.

New owners, new manager at the Crozet Creamery

The Kauffmann and Slater families now own the Crozet Creamery. Jonathan and Megan Kauffmann and Greg and Kay Slater have taken the popular ice cream store over from the Holzwarth family and Michael Comer, who returned to higher education.

They’ve hired Erik Schetlick to manage the store. Schetlick’s a veteran of the Charlottesville food scene, starting when he was a U.Va. student, first working at the Virginian and later at the Ivy Inn and Michael’s Bistro, and most recently a few months ago when he served as sous chef and production manager at Harvest Moon Catering. In between, he traveled for years, picking up jobs as line cook and sous chef in Oregon and Colorado.

Erik Schetlick. Photo: Theresa Curry.

“This is the first time I’ve been able to have a brand-new kitchen,” Schetlick said. Hard work and attention to cleanliness and efficiency have always been his trademarks, he said. “I’m glad to be able to work with teenagers and teach them those values.” He’s looking forward to experimenting with new flavors as well as the ones already beloved by patrons of the Creamery. Schetlick lives in Charlottesville with his wife, Sara, and his thirteen-month old daughter, Susannah.

Innovative menu & bar at Pro Re Nata

Management of the food truck is changing hands at Pro Re Nata, with young chef Austin Robbins overseeing the compact kitchen and Brianna “Buddha” Robbins managing the rest of the operation. Robbins, a Crozet resident, is taking the operation over from 106 Street Food, and will operate as “Braised” [sic] once the transition is completed. Chef Austin plans to reach out to the community by supporting local farmers, expanding the menu to incorporate locally made products, and offering cooking classes and other special events. He plans to expand the hours the truck is open during the summer, perhaps including Mondays.

Brianna and Austin Robbins bringing new menu, new name to food truck at Pro Re Nata. Photo: Theresa Curry.

Austin and Brianna as well as a few other staff members were stunned by the attempted robbery of the truck a few weeks ago. Nothing was taken, and the alleged robbers have since been apprehended at their home in Charlottesville. “It was a matter of just being in the wrong place at the wrong time,” Brianna said. Although shaken, they said their belief in the safety of the community has not been affected. “We live here and plan to raise a family here,” Austin said.

The operation has become more far-flung with the addition of the unique container bar and seating area at the rear of the property, and picnic areas spaced around the grounds as well in the front by the fire pit. Austin has some ideas for using technology to keep track of orders and ensure efficient delivery of food.

Shipping containers form unique seating, serving space at Pro Re Nata. Photo: Theresa Curry.

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