Business Briefs: November 2018

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UVA Credit Union rises in downtown Crozet.

UVA Community Credit Union Adds Downtown Location

Construction is well under way for UVA Community Credit Union’s second full-service branch in Crozet, located downtown at 5714 Three Notched Road, next to Crozet Market. “This new branch reflects our commitment to expanding our services to our members and community in the Crozet area,” said Credit Union President Alison DeTuncq.

In addition to the full slate of personal and business services, the new branch will offer innovative technology, with an interactive touch-screen kiosk showing videos with corresponding brochures that can be printed on demand. Other features will be drive-through lanes, an ATM, and a night depository. The present location in Clover Lawn will remain as well.

Cindy Swigert, Vice President of human services, said the Credit Union is currently advertising for staff, so they can be trained in time for the opening this winter.

Brewery Branches out in Nelson County

He took off a few years, did a little fishing, lived at the beach a while, and got married, but Crozet beer brewer Mark Thompson is back, this time with a plan quite different from the typical plan of the new business owner. Thompson, who with his wife, Gina, owns The Brewing Tree Beer Company on Route 151 in Nelson County, has a plan to avoid growth.

Gina and Mark Thompson of The Brewing Tree Beer Company. Photo: Theresa Curry.

Thompson, former owner of Starr Hill Brewery, has had plenty of experience in impressive growth, all instructive, he said, but in the end he missed doing what he does best. “I want to brew my beer and welcome guests,” he said. To remain on that “less is more” path, he’ll stick with a few core beers; and to encourage those who came after him on the Virginia brewing scene, he’ll offer collaborations and guest taps. He’ll brew and he’ll pour and he’ll hand a beer across the bar or slide it down, but he won’t can, he won’t keg, he won’t distribute, he said. He’ll stay active in the Virginia craft brewing scene. In fact, he took the brewery’s name from the idea of a “coaching tree,” where a coach enables those he’s coached to reach others in turn.

There’s plenty to do in the time saved by eschewing expansion. He and Gina have landscaped the beautiful riverfront slope, redone the interior of the short-lived Blue Toad, put in a stage, a fire pit and a patio surrounded by assorted outdoor family and children’s activities, and devised a way for guests to have some say in which local charities they want their beer dollars to support. In “Pints with a Purpose,” the Thompsons give customers a token with every pint. Customers, in turn, deposit their tokens in jars representing one of four rotating charities—“All local,” Mark said—to determine the amount to go to each. The brewery is fast becoming a local center, with live music and creative and fun ideas like yoga followed by a beer, pumpkin painting and a doggie Halloween costume contest.

Gina Thompson is a trained chef with years of experience, and she’s tinkered with a snack menu that goes far beyond what you’d expect from a rural brewery, including baked goods by Charlottesville’s Marie Bette and a judicious selection of nuts and meats and cheeses accompanied by beer-infused condiments. But there’s more to come: the Thompsons have just bought a food truck and plan to dispense locally sourced food from the “Brewing Tree Scratch Kitchen” as soon as it’s open for business.

“Our customers tend to want food,” Thompson said. “And our experience with food trucks is that they’re not always reliable.”

“I’m not going to pretend it’s fine dining,” said Gina, who has plenty of experience with fine dining, “but it will go beyond what you might expect.” For instance, they might offer a slider, but it will be made from scratch and be enhanced by some of the flavors of Mark’s brews. “We’ll have four or five things, and none of them will be frozen jalapeño poppers,” she said. “They’ll be seasonal, and good.”

Find The Brewing Tree’s schedule and hours on Facebook.

Pro Re Nata Expands Ownership

There are new owners at Pro Re Nata Brewer, but the popular farm brewery hasn’t changed hands. Three long-time employees are now part owners of the company. “This was my intention all along,” said John Schoeb, one of the brewery’s owners. “They’ve been here since day one.”

The three employees––Brian Combs, the marketing manager; Brad Hulewicz, the brewer; and Debbie Goodbar, the operations manager––said they were honored by the gesture.

“It’s a great gift to staff,” Combs said. “He told us a few months before he did it, and of course it just reinforces our commitment to what we’re doing here.”

Debbie Goodbar, Brian Combs and Brad Hulewicz join John Schoeb, second from left, as owners of Pro Re Nata. Photo: Theresa Curry.

“It’s great to be recognized for your efforts,” Hulewicz said.

Goodbar, who previously worked at Schoeb’s dental practice (Blue Ridge Dental) said he had the same attitude there. “He wanted the staff to always feel as though we were part of the business.”

Combs said that having ownership of Pro Re Nata encouraged them to see past their own job responsibilities and work for the success of the whole operation: “We notice things we might have overlooked before.”

The three said that Schoeb had always been quick to praise them for their hard work. “Of course, actions speak louder than words,” Schoeb said. “This is a situation where all of us benefit.”

Schoeb said that stock would also be offered to a couple of other key employees.

Proving that A WoMan Can

Jessica Pugh grew up hanging around her father’s engine repair business, All Engines Possible. So, she said, she’s been proving for years that a woman can do just about any kind of work. In fact, that’s what Mark Pugh used to say when customers spotted Jessica with grease on her hands or clothes and asked what a mere girl was doing hanging around the shop. When she started her own landscaping and gardening business, it seemed logical to choose A WoMan Can for its name.

When Austin Eavey joined her as a partner, he didn’t object to the name, he said. Pugh, 18, and Eavey, 20, together have more years of experience working outside than many twice their age. Eavey also has the skills and experience to maintain and operate equipment needed for the business.

Jessica Pugh and Austen Eavey of A WoMan Can. Photo: Theresa Curry.

Pugh, who previously worked for local landscaping contractors, said she especially liked putting together artistic arrangements of plants in a landscape or planter. The pair also does yard mowing, raking, mulching and maintenance. Find them at https://www.yelp.com/biz/a-woman-can-crozet.

Crozet Artisans on Studio Tour

Crozet artisans show their wares and open their studios November 10-11 for visitors, in several nearby locations. The Barnswallow will be home to a couple of potters, Janice Arone and Mary Ann Burk, and will also feature paintings, glass, jewelry and other fine crafts. The Barnswallow also offers refreshments furnished by area vendors: Cakes by Rachel, Hot Cakes, Gearhart’s Fine Chocolates, and the Bellair Market.

Other area studios open for visitors are Two Owls Pottery, Sunset Farm Studio, and Frederick Williamson Bowls. Find times for and directions to each of these studios at www.artisanstudio.com

Business Bits

Several changes underway in the Crozet restaurant scene, but nothing final: No new owners yet for the former SWAY, said landlord Blue Springs Development; likewise for the former Mountainside Grille, said owner Benton Downer. “We’re awfully close to a restaurant group,” said realtor Stu Rifkin of the nearly completed Mechum’s Trestle.

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